Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: dental care (Page 1 of 2)

Why dentist offices are safe

As your employees consider a visit to the dentist, they may be concerned about potential exposure to the coronavirus. Fortunately, the steps that dentists take to protect themselves, their staff and their patients from COVID-19 means that a trip to the dentist is actually quite safe. Here are the facts.

Dentists do all they can to make their office safe

As health care professionals, dentists and their staff follow strict infection control protocol. Over 99% of dentists have implemented enhanced infection prevention and control processes, according to the American Dental Association.

That hard work has certainly paid off; fewer than 1% of dentists nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the same study. That’s pretty impressive when you consider that dentists spend their days working on people’s mouths!

Here’s how dentists have accomplished this feat:

  • New technology has become more common as dentists’ offices have adapted to the realities of the pandemic. That means when people visit the dentist, they can expect to see machines like air purifiers, high-volume evacuators, infrared thermometers and hand sanitizer stations.
  • New processes such as rinses with disinfecting mouthwash and enhanced suction during cleanings and exams are now the norm at many dentists’ offices. These strategies help inactivate viruses in patients’ mouths and droplets in the air, allowing dentists to help fight the spread of infection. Dentists may also rely on teledentistry for exams rather than have patients come into the office.
  • New policies like having patients wait in the car to be seen and seeing fewer patients concurrently help reduce the risk of infection as well. The less time patients spend in the office and the fewer things they touch while there means less chance of exposure to COVID-19.

The steps take not prevent the spread of COVID-19 will vary from dentist office to office, but for a more in-depth overview of what your employees can expect, refer them to Grin!, our enrollee wellness e‑magazine.

Why employees might not want to visit the dentist (and why they should)

When people explain why they don’t want to go to the dentist during the pandemic, there are a few common reasons. It’s natural to have concerns about safety and costs, but it’s also important to realize that there are risks when it comes to avoiding the dentist as well.

  • “I want to socially distance as much as possible until I’ve been vaccinated.” This is a perfectly valid concern. At the same time, a visit to the dentist carries less risk of exposure than visiting other indoor areas. Dentists have the tools and training to minimize the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus.
  • “I don’t want to sit in a crowded waiting room.” The good news is, dentists don’t want people sitting in crowded waiting rooms, either! That’s why they’ve taken steps like having patients wait in their cars, seeing fewer patients at a given time and removed waiting room furniture.
  • “I’m not in any pain, so I don’t need to see the dentist.” People who wait until they’re in pain to go to the dentist likely have issues such as severe cavities or infected root canals that could have been avoided if they’d gone in for regular cleanings and exams. Taking advantage of the diagnostic and preventive care offered with Delta Dental plans can help catch oral health issues before they become serious, and that helps to keep pain and costs down.
  • “My teeth look fine, so I don’t need to see the dentist.” It’s possible to develop oral health issues that aren’t obvious when looking in the bathroom mirror. Going to a dentist to detect issues like gum disease is important. Additionally, there are serious health issues that can have oral symptoms, such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. A visit to the dentist can help detect these issues as well.
  • “I’m too busy to spend time finding a dentist or making it into the office.” It can be hard to find time away from work or school to make it to the dentist. Fortunately, teledentistry has made it easier than ever before to connect with oral health professionals from the comfort of your home or office. Additionally, Delta Dental will soon offer tools that can connect members with a Delta Dental PPO™ dentist for a dental diagnostic report or video consultation.

Don’t be afraid to go to the dentist

When it comes to the dentist’s office, your employees can rest easy knowing that they can stay safe and healthy when it’s time for a visit. That’s sure to be a smile on their face.

Stories to smile about: Robert

Dental care with dignity – war veteran gets his smile and his life back. 

Robert Bennett

2‑minute read

What if a healthy smile could restore dignity, improve your quality of life and career outlook? For one very deserving man, that’s exactly what happened when he visited one of the UNLV Delta Dental Saturday Morning Community Clinics. 

After many years of suffering with teeth that caused physical and emotional pain, Vietnam War veteran Robert Bennett finally received the care his smile needed at the Sgt. Clint Ferrin Memorial Clinic, one of four dental clinics that make up the UNLV Delta Dental Saturday Morning Community Clinics. 

This is what Robert had to say to UNLV about his experience at the clinic:

“It’s not only [that I was] happy with the care, it’s the professionalism that goes along with it — it’s the way you’re treated from the time you walk through the door, to the time that you get into the chair. And then the doctors that oversee what [the dental students] do and help, they come up constantly, and they introduce themselves and let you know what you’re going to be going through. 

[They] had to surgically remove almost every tooth in my mouth, or what was left of my teeth. [After receiving treatment and a full set of dentures,] I’m eating and smiling and communicating with people again. It changes your life. I mean it just gives you your dignity back. You are somebody again. And I get to apply again for a job. Look what they did!”

Robert Bennett, Vietnam War veteran

Robert’s story is especially meaningful to us at Delta Dental. Last year, The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation granted $50,000 to support these clinics, which provide much needed dental care to underinsured and uninsured people throughout Southern Nevada.

Successes like this are the reason the Foundation exists — to improve health and enhance lives in the communities we serve. We’re so grateful for partners like the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, who give us opportunities like this one to make a real difference.


To ensure you never miss a story like this, subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses.

Do you have a project that qualifies for funding? Visit the Foundation’s section of our website to learn more and apply for funding.

Benefit tips for enrollees to pack for vacation

2‑minute read

With summer vacation season heating up, you may worry about the impact this could have on managing your group’s dental benefits. We’ve got good news — with these packing tips you can also relax knowing that Delta Dental benefits have your enrollees covered.

Travel to the dentist first
Dental emergencies are hard enough when your enrollees are home — dealing with one during vacation can be even more unpleasant. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your enrollees to receive dental checkups regularly.

A minor toothache now might seem like it can wait, but what if it becomes excruciating during a once-in-a-lifetime gondola ride on the Grand Canal? Ouch! Taking care of minor oral health issues before traveling can help decrease the chance of costly problems while enrollees are out of town.

Packing tip:  Encourage enrollees to visit the emergency care section on our SmileWay® website to help them prepare for any dental issues that arise when they’re away from home.

 

Map out providers
If an oral health emergency occurs, your enrollees shouldn’t wait until after vacation to seek treatment. From coast to coast, your Delta Dental PPOTM1 enrollees can visit any licensed dentist to receive care without preauthorization.2 DeltaCare® USA1 enrollees are also covered with an out-of-area emergency benefit.3

Packing tips: Enrollees can visit our website to find a network dentist by location or specialty, and even compare Yelp ratings. And for more information on receiving care away from home, enrollees can check out this helpful guide.


Document experiences abroad
Emergency treatment coverage abroad varies by plan type. Encourage enrollees to check their plan details before vacation, and let them know they will need to file their own claim along with a detailed receipt from the treating dentist with the following information to receive reimbursement:

  • Date of service
  • Dentist name and address
  • List of procedures and affected teeth
  • Currency in which to make payment

Packing tip: Share this article with enrollees to give them more details on receiving dental care while outside the U.S.

 

Want more helpful benefits tips like this? Be sure to subscribe to Word of Mouth, our group newsletter.

If you’re a broker, consultant, or other benefits producer, subscribe to Insider Update.

 

 

 

1Delta Dental PPO is underwritten by Delta Dental Insurance Company in AL, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, NV and UT and by not-for profit dental service companies in these states: CA – Delta Dental of California; PA, MD – Delta Dental of Pennsylvania; NY – Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; DE – Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc.; WV – Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. In Texas, Delta Dental Insurance Company provides a Dental Provider Organization (DPO) plan.

DeltaCare USA is underwritten in these states by these entities: AL — Alpha Dental of Alabama, Inc.; CA — Delta Dental of California; DC, DE, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, WV — Delta Dental Insurance Company; MD, TX — Alpha Dental Programs, Inc.; NV — Alpha Dental of Nevada, Inc.; UT — Alpha Dental of Utah, Inc.; NY — Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; PA — Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. Delta Dental Insurance Company acts as the DeltaCare USA administrator in all these states. These companies are financially responsible for their own products.

2 Applies to covered services; enrollees should consult their contract before receiving treatment. Enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs are likely to be lower if they receive emergency care from a dentist who is in their network.

3 Authorization for treatment may be required. Enrollees should consult their contract for the specific out-of-area provisions for their plan before receiving treatment.

Making music and smiles: Spotlight on a rockin’ dental consultant

4‑minute read

So, your carrier tells you it has dental consultants on staff. You first thought may be “that sounds great!”, but you’re also probably left wondering what that actually means. We think there’s no better way to show you than by introducing you to one of our dental consultants, Dr. Leigh Westee. She also happens to be an incredibly interesting human.

Whether you met Dr. Westee during her days as a practicing dentist or you run into her now as a dental consultant, a couple of things remain the same. She’s still passionate about helping patients receive exceptional dental care, and she still spends her free time playing bass in a hard rock band.

 

How long have you been with Delta Dental? What did you do previously?
It will be seven years this April — and I’ve been a dental consultant the whole time. Before working here, I practiced dentistry for 21 years. While I worked in some large practices, I also did mobile dentistry for a while. I would go into nursing homes and set up right in the beauty salon.  I felt incredibly useful — both in providing care and good company.

It sounds like you really liked practicing. What made you become a dental consultant?
I was just ready for a change, and so were my joints! I taught a bit at some dental hygiene schools and really liked it, so I wanted another position where I could apply all the knowledge I’d gained in the dental chair, but still help patients. This position ended up being the perfect fit.

So what exactly is it that you do?
Mostly I review complex claims for Delta Dental PPOSM — like numerous visits for the same procedure. I compare claims to x‑rays and other medical data, then apply the plan’s policies. I always remember there are people on the other end, so it’s also really important we take the enrollee and provider perspectives into account.

I also evaluate claims if a dentist or enrollee sends in a dispute or grievance. This is where you’ve really got to be a detective. For example, a new crown could be denied because it doesn’t meet a plan’s frequency limitations, but there are situations where we might override that. We may allow a new crown if the current crown broke and a different dentist had to provide a new one. That’s when I would look at all the info that went with the dispute, like x‑rays and charts, and make an informed decision.

Any advice for groups to take back to their enrollees?
Receive routine preventive care. Going to the dentist every six months can greatly reduce the chances of running into most of the claims issues I’m reviewing. You wouldn’t neglect your oil change for five years, so why do the same with your body? Keep your mouth maintained and you can help avoid expensive visits in the future.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Making decisions on claims is not something we take lightly, so there are definitely times where I can’t make a decision on my own. That’s when I rely on my colleagues to share their expertise — two other dental consultants who work on PPO claims sit right next to me. There are also separate consultants who work on DeltaCare® USA claims and an orthodontist for ortho claims.

Speaking of expertise: How do you keep your skills sharp?
Even though we’re not practicing, we still have to maintain a dentist license. I take about 20 credits of continuing education courses every year. Plus, the whole team of dental consultants meets every month to learn about new topics and share insights.

Wow, you guys certainly stay busy! How do you relax outside of work?
I play bass in two hard rock bands. I taught myself how to play by ear — I actually can’t read music. I had to practice for hours every day for months until it started to click, and I still have to practice a lot. Dentists do like to keep their hands busy!

The first band I joined was an all-female KISS Tribute Band. Now I’m in a Cheap Trick tribute band called Dream Police and an 80s hard rock cover band called Iron Mullet. We get really into the costumes and makeup too. We’ve been hired out for rock events just to make appearances in costume.

That’s so cool. Have you ever met any of your rock idols?
I made it a goal to meet my five favorite bass players. It took me about 15 years, but I did it, and even had their signatures tattooed on me. Oh, and I met Alice Cooper.

I’m sure those are great stories … you’ll have to share with me some day. One last question. If you could remix one of your favorite songs like the singing dentist, what would it be? Can you give us a line?
I’d go with a KISS song. How about “I want to brush and floss all night”?

Thanks for rockin’ out with Dr. Westee! Stay tuned for our second dental consultant spotlight later this month, which will highlight dental phobias and ways to ease enrollees’ fears. And don’t forget to subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits decision makers, administrators or HR professionals.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to our producer newsletter, Insider Update.

4 ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

Are your employees eating well? Food and drink choices can have a major impact on dental health. This March, share Delta Dental’s online resources for National Nutrition Month.

Check out these five easy ways you can help your employees make dental-savvy dietary choices:

  1. Download the latest SmileWay® Wellness kit. You’ll find ready-to-use flyers and posters on everything from chocolate to nutrition essentials. The pdfs can be sent by email or posted to your intranet. Or, print them on a color printer.
  2. Email your employees to let them know about National Nutrition Month. The kit includes an email template you can open in Microsoft Outlook, customize to your needs and send with just the click of a button. The email is packed with links to articles, videos and recipes.
  3. Boost your employees’ dental IQ with helpful articles about all things nutrition. The nutritional section of our SmileWay Wellness site has plenty of fresh articles to share.
  4. Find tooth-friendly recipes in our expanded recipe list. These dishes and desserts feature tooth- and gum-supporting ingredients and minimal sugar content.

Delta Dental PPO: Is your group part of the in-crowd?

2‑minute read

One of the best parts about choosing a PPO dental plan for your employees is giving them the freedom to choose any licensed provider for their next visit. And, with Delta Dental, you’re offering additional access with our Delta Dental Premier® network. With so many choices, it’s important to weigh the options.

Network utilization is a key aspect of your dental plan — because in-network visits could save you money or help stabilize your group’s plan costs over time. Some things to consider:

What does in-network actually mean?

If you currently offer a Delta Dental PPOTM plan, in-network visits always mean visits to PPO dentists. We’d like to say it’s that simple, but sometimes offering twice the freedom results in twice the questions.

What about Premier visits? 

The Premier network acts as a safety net for out-of-pocket costs, so enrollees usually save more than they would if they visited a non-Delta Dental dentist. However, the Premier network doesn’t offer the deep discounts that PPO can.

What if I offer a PPO plus Premier plan?

If your group offers a PPO plus Premier plan, or any plan in which non-PPO dentists are not reimbursed based on contracted PPO fees, enrollees will still save the most when they go PPO. The difference for these plans is how we calculate fees for claims. The plan still offers a safety net for non-PPO claims if enrollees visit a Premier dentist, and you’re offering them more balance billing protection if you choose a fee basis other than the PPO contract allowance for all claims.

How do I encourage PPO utilization?

Talk with your employees about the benefits of in-network dentist visits, like more potential savings and more convenience with no claims forms to fill out. You can also remind them to find a network dentist using our find a dentist tool. Consider attaching this instructional flyer to your next group email and encourage them to search only for PPO dentists.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

« Older posts

© 2021 Word of Mouth

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑