Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

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Keeping dental insurance when budgets are tight

With today’s pandemic-related economic uncertainty and rising interest rates, you may find yourself with a benefits budget that’s stretched a bit thin. If you’ve considered dropping your group’s dental benefits to save money ― or don’t think you have the resources to add them ― we’ve got you covered.

DeltaCare® USA, Delta Dental’s DHMO-type product, offers comprehensive dental benefits for less than you might expect. These copay plans cover more than 400 procedures, so your employees won’t have to sacrifice quality care for affordability.

What it offers

Most DeltaCare USA plans include additional cleanings at reduced copayments, at-home teeth whitening, athletic mouthguards and porcelain crowns. And our orthodontic treatment in-progress provision allows new members to continue treatment with their current orthodontist, even if that orthodontist isn’t in our DeltaCare USA network.

Other advantages include: 

  • Tooth-colored fillings for any tooth
  • No lab fees or other hidden fees
  • No hidden charges for materials such as resins, metals or porcelain

What’s more, as a fixed copayment plan, DeltaCare USA offers your employees both convenience and simplicity:

  • No deductibles or maximums
  • No claim forms
  • Low or no copayments for diagnostic and preventive care

How it works

In most states, employees select a DeltaCare USA primary care dentist and pay their set copayment directly to the dentist. That’s it. Our primary care dentists even coordinate specialty care. An added bonus is that there’s no paperwork.

How it helps you

DeltaCare USA plans are easy to manage and offer predictable costs. Available resources include:

  • A comprehensive administrator support guide
  • A recently updated wellness library that includes a variety of helpful dental wellness content, including a risk assessment tool, wellness videos and dozens of articles

Remember, one of the biggest boosts to your budget is happy, healthy employees. Each year, over $45 billion is lost in productivity because of dental issues. When employees without coverage avoid going to the dentist or delay care, their dental issues often become more serious and may contribute to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

So if you think budgetary woes mean dental coverage might not be in your future, consider DeltaCare USA. You’ll help your employees — and your budget — stay healthy.

Take the mystery out of dental expenses with the Cost Estimator

Your employees are busy enough, so trying to figure out how to budget their dental care shouldn’t become a second job. That’s why we created the Cost Estimator, a tool available for desktop and mobile that your employees can use to estimate quickly and easily what their next dental visit will cost.

What’s more, the Cost Estimator has just been refreshed with a new, accessible and mobile-optimized design.

How can the Cost Estimator can help my employees?

The Cost Estimator provides employees with a personalized estimate (based on the fee schedule from the last dentist from whom they received service) for an entire dental visit with a specific dentist. It calculates employees’ out-of-pocket costs based on their current benefits. Information is updated daily, so your employees can always count on getting an accurate cost estimate.

This versatile and easy-to-use tool offers employees a variety of useful features and information to help them make the most of their benefits and helps them become better informed consumers.

In the tool, employees can choose from a list of common dental procedures ― they can even specify which tooth needs treatment or what type of filling they’d prefer! After they select their procedure, the Cost Estimator calculates their estimated out-of-pocket cost. The tool subtracts both the network savings and the portion the plan pays.

Other tasks your employees can perform with the Cost Estimator include:

  • Adding procedures. If employees need to add services such as a cleaning or x‑rays to their visit, they can add them to their estimate to get the total cost of the visit.
  • Comparing dentists. Employees might be curious to see if they’d save by switching to another dentist. The Cost Estimator lets them compare up to five in-network dentists to find the best deal.
  • Selecting plan members. Employees can get cost estimates for anyone on their plan, such as spouses and children.
  • Reviewing benefits usage. Employees can access the benefits activity and history for everyone on their plan, and can also review their plan’s maximums, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.

How can the Cost Estimator help my bottom line?

The Cost Estimator provides members with transparency about their out-of-pocket costs. More cost transparency can mean fewer questions and less confusion about the value of visiting an in-network dentist. By showing the substantial cost differences between in-network and out-of-network dentist visits, the tool encourages in-network utilization — which can help members save and may help lower your group’s dental plan costs.

Is the Cost Estimator available to my group?

Yes! All Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® groups are eligible to sign up for the Cost Estimator. Talk to your Sales contact to find out how to add this service to your plan.

DeltaCare® USA members receive a plan booklet with their copayments for covered services, so this tool isn’t necessary for DeltaCare USA plans.

To access the Cost Estimator, employees simply click Plan ahead for a visit from the member portal. PPO and Premier members can also access a more limited version of the Cost Estimator through the Delta Dental mobile app, which features in- and out-of-network fees.


With the Cost Estimator, your employees can be confident not only about staying within their budgets, but also that they’re getting the best deal for themselves and their families. Be sure your employees don’t miss out on this valuable resource.

Get comprehensive utilization and health risk reports for your group

How do you know which dental benefits enrollees actually use and need? The true value of a dental benefit plan can depend on how much employees utilize their plan and which benefits they’re using. With Your Dental Health Summary, you can get these insights and more.

How are your employees using their dental benefits?

Your Dental Health Summary is a comprehensive report that helps you evaluate your enrolled employees’ utilization, oral health and risk status. The report highlights your group’s healthy behaviors and helps identify risk factors like the percentage of enrolled employees that had fillings, root canals or gum treatment. You can examine utilization and risk status indicators over time and compare your enrolled member population to benchmarks. Using this data, you can assess whether intervention, education or better patient habits could improve risk status.

What’s in the report?

When you open Your Dental Health Summary, you’ll see information about:

  • Your employees’ dental benefits utilization, including risk factors and healthy behaviors. See how your employees compare to benchmarks for taking advantage of diagnostic and preventive services. You can also review health indicators for employees at high risk for dental disease, with utilization patterns compared to benchmarks.
  • Your employees’ current oral health risk status compared to benchmarks. You’ll get risk categories for your entire group of enrolled employees, including new members, high-risk employees and employees with no dentist visits. You’ll also get a detailed breakdown of each category by age.
  • Your group’s oral health progress compared to previous years. Track the progress of your high-risk and low-risk employees and you’ll see whether your employees’ oral health has improved or declined and how many visited the dentist.

But what if you don’t know much about dental health? Your Dental Health Summary contains a guide to best practices for good oral health and how to support healthy habits. As you receive information about your employee’s plan usage, you’ll learn how to help high-risk employees and encourage dentist visits.

How do I get the report?

Your Dental Health Summary reports are available for groups with at least 500 primary enrollees. Because the reports track dental health trends over a period of several years, your group must have been effective with Delta Dental for at least two full years before you can receive your first report.

A report is generated each month but trends are tracked on an annual basis, so talk to your Sales Account Executive to discuss how often you’d like to receive the report. Reports are always delivered via email. Once you receive your report, Delta Dental’s team will also set up a meeting with you to walk you through the numbers, help you understand the data and answer any questions you have.


Making choices about your benefits package can be difficult when you don’t have a clear picture of how your employees are using it. With Your Dental Health Summary, you have a tool that gives you tailored and actionable information you can use to plan targeted, effective wellness initiatives for your group.

3 reasons your employees expect great dental insurance now

The pandemic has changed how we work, how we interact and how we think about our health and safety. Attitudes toward oral health have changed, too, and dental insurance has become more important than ever. 

Here are some of the top reasons why your employees expect great dental benefits now and how Delta Dental can help you provide them with what they’re looking for.

1. The pandemic has increased the need for dental benefits

Although dental offices are open and many patients have resumed regular visits, the pandemic is still taking a toll on the nation’s oral health.

Nearly half of U.S. adults reported delaying dental care due to the pandemic. And a 2021 survey showed a major increase, up to 71%, in stress-related oral health conditions during the pandemic, with more than a quarter of the dentists reporting an increase in cavities and gum disease.

Employees need strong dental plans to handle the health issues arising due to the pandemic. Comprehensive dental coverage can also help them reduce the chances for serious (and expensive) health issues down the line. 

With Delta Dental PPO™ and DeltaCare® USA plans, you can meet the demand with affordable, flexible plans with great features that encourage access to preventive care, like maximum waivers for diagnostic and preventive services.

2. Employers must boost benefits to combat the Great Resignation

The pandemic has triggered an exodus from the workforce that economists have labeled the “Great Resignation.” One of the top reasons employees are giving for leaving a job is lack of adequate benefits. 

As the pandemic reshapes the labor market, companies like yours must rethink and retool benefits to attract and retain talent. Employers who offer dental already know that employees consistently rank dental insurance as one of the most important benefits in making a job decision. Offering a comprehensive benefits package that includes robust dental coverage has become more crucial than ever.

You can help your company remain competitive by offering a dental plan that stands out. With Delta Dental, you can create or enhance plans with attractive added benefits that employees want, like coverage for popular but costly services such as implants and orthodontics.

3. Patients want teledentistry as an option

Fear of returning to the dentist caused teledentistry to boom during the pandemic, with more patients using the technology than ever before. For instance, Delta Dental’s synchronous and asynchronous teledentistry claims in 2021 were six times and two times higher than 2019 levels, respectively.

Many consumers grew accustomed to using teledentistry during the pandemic, and they want to have it as an option moving forward for its safety and convenience. Satisfaction levels with teledentistry services during the COVID-19 pandemic were 100% in the satisfied and very satisfied categories, according to one recent study, and 96% of participating patients in another study said they would use the service again.

When your employees are covered under a Delta Dental PPO or Delta Dental Premier plan, they have two options for free-to-access, easy-to-use teledentistry platforms.

And with Delta Dental, your employees can still see a dentist in person after choosing a virtual dentistry appointment. Delta Dental’s teledentistry options give your employees access to the technology they want now.

Your employees need great dental benefits in a post-pandemic world

Employees value dental benefits now more than ever. If you haven’t already, consider increasing current benefits to keep your workplace competitive in the new post-pandemic marketplace. Whatever your needs, Delta Dental is here to support your company with affordable, quality plans.

4 oral health problems teens face and how you can help

When you’re building your benefits package, are you thinking about teenagers? You may not have benefits-eligible teenage employees, but it’s likely your benefits package will be covering teenagers as dependents. Here are some common dental concerns that teenagers face and how you can develop a better benefits package to help your employees’ children.

1. Cavities

With teens’ love of snacking and their inconsistent brushing habits, it should be no surprise that dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people. There are some easy ways to stop cavities before they start. Sealants are thin coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth that can prevent cavities for years, which means that sealants applied during childhood can help during the teen years.

2. Misaligned teeth

Permanent teeth replace baby teeth in older children, and the jawbones can continue to grow until the end of puberty. A misalignment of the teeth and jaws may get better ― or worse ― by the time the jawbones have stopped growing.

Without coverage, prospective orthodontic patients can expect to pay between $3,000 and $6,000 depending on their age. Delta Dental plans can help cut these costs in half. Orthodontic coverage is available under all DeltaCare USA group plans and can be optionally included in any Delta Dental PPO plan.

3. Impacted wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and erupt into the mouth, usually in the late teens. Since the jaw is still growing, wisdom teeth are sometimes impacted, meaning they don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally. Almost 5 million people get wisdom teeth removed every year in the United States.

Wisdom teeth extraction can be expensive. Consider having your plan cover a higher percentage of the cost of wisdom teeth extractions. If that’s not viable for your plan, a lower deductible can help families as well by letting them pay less out of pocket before they reach their deductible.

4. Eating disorders

About 9% of Americans will develop an eating disorder at some point in their life, often in their teenage years. Eating disorders are life-threatening conditions that can have serious consequences for oral health and overall health. They can cause nutritional deficiencies that effect the mouth, as well as sensitive teeth, frequent cavities and dry mouth as a result of purging.

Dentists can be a great ally in the fight against the effects of eating disorders like bulimia (PDF) by identifying signs of the disorder, like eroded enamel and damaged gums, and offering sealants and fluoride treatments. These treatments can help reduce the damage that stomach acid causes when someone vomits. Most plans cover sealants and fluoride treatments until patients turn 15. If you’re also handling your clients’ health care package, you may also consider covering mental health treatment that can help to treat the illness altogether.

What else can you do to support teens’ dental health?

While these problems aren’t unique to adolescents, it’s still a good idea to have these in mind when considering your company’s dental benefits. If you’re in a position to do so, consider sharing information that highlights plan features like teledentistry, which could be helpful for busy teens and their parents. You could also explore Delta Dental’s wellness resources and share a selection of helpful articles and flyers in an email or on an internal site.

Remember to be consistent! When communicating helpful information to your employees, using multiple channels can be confusing and difficult to keep track of. Find a simple routine for sharing, like posting information on an internal webpage with monthly or quarterly email notifications, so that your employees always know where to look.

How gum disease is connected to overall health

When your employees want to improve their health, chances are they’ll start by improving their diet, beginning an exercise program or quitting bad habits like smoking.

These are all fantastic ways to get healthier, but your employees may not realize that their gums are also crucial to their overall well-being. This February for Gum Disease Awareness Month, remind employees of the often-overlooked connection between gum health and overall health.

The connection between gum disease and overall health

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a common bacterial infection that causes a chronic inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. It’s the major cause of adult tooth loss, and it affects nearly half of people over 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The effects of gum disease extend well beyond the mouth. Gum disease has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Inflammation from bacteria in the gums may eventually lead to narrowing of arteries and heart trouble.
  • Dementia. Chronic gum inflammation can be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
  • Glaucoma. Tooth loss and gum disease may increase the risk of this disease of the optic nerve.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. The bacterium that causes periodontal disease may increase the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, lead to an earlier onset of the disease and cause symptoms to progress more quickly.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing gum disease. In turn, having gum disease can make your blood glucose harder to control.
  • Premature birth and low birth weight. Pregnant women are at increased risk of gum disease due to hormonal changes and increased blood flow. Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, as well as low birth weight and other pregnancy complications.

Early treatment of gum disease can effectively lower health costs in the long term. The devastating effects of the condition in its developed stages are largely preventable when employees stay informed and take action.

Ways to keep your employees informed

Your employees may be unaware of the connection between gum disease and overall health. What’s more, many of them may not realize they have gum disease. The condition isn’t usually painful, and many people don’t know they have gum disease until it progresses to more serious conditions, such as tooth loss.

Delta Dental has a wealth of resources you can use to educate your employees during Gum Disease Awareness Month and beyond. You can:

How your Delta Dental coverage can support employees’ gum health

Routine dental checkups and cleanings, covered by all Delta Dental plan as diagnostic and preventive services, can help prevent and monitor gum disease.

Treatments for gum disease, such as scaling and root planing, are typically covered under most dental plans under periodontic services.

When non-surgical treatment is inadequate, Delta Dental’s standard plans offer several surgical treatments to slow down or prevent the progression of the disease. Common procedures include:

  • Gingivectomy. Diseased gum tissue is removed and reshaped to get rid of pockets between the teeth and gums.
  • Gingival flap surgery. Gum tissue is separated from surrounding teeth and deflected back to allow a dental surgeon access to the jawbone and the root of the tooth for deep scaling and root planning.
  • Osseous Surgery. Also called pocket reduction surgery, this procedure eliminates the bacteria populating the pockets by cutting the gums to remove the bacteria and repair the damaged bone.
  • Bone grafting. This procedure increases the amount of bone in a part of the jaw where bone has been lost or where additional support is needed. Bone may be taken from elsewhere in the body and surgically fused to existing bone in the jaw.

Employees with chronic conditions may be at a higher risk for gum disease. SmileWay® Wellness Benefits offers additional coverage for gum treatment for those diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis or stroke.

Looking to improve your support for employees with or at risk of gum disease? Talk to your Account Manager about how your dental plan can improve employee health and reduce long-term costs.

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