Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: employee health (Page 1 of 3)

Plan your wellness calendar for 2022

As your employees prepare for a productive 2022, you may ask yourself what you can do to help them stay informed and healthy this year. Well, you’re in luck! Delta Dental offers an assortment of themed wellness materials that enables you to offer employees relevant wellness content all year.

For a quick look at the topics covered in 2022, download the PDF.

Wellness is health approached from a holistic perspective. From holidays to awareness months, we offer plenty of opportunities to remind employees to take care of both their oral health and their total well-being. You can choose campaigns from Glaucoma Awareness Month in January to holiday health in December, and each campaign is supported by a variety of multimedia assets.

This year’s calendar includes the following new campaigns:

  • Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month (March)
  • World Oral Health Day (March 20)
  • Mental Health Awareness Month (May)
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
  • National Brush Day (Nov. 1)

Whether you want to communicate with employees who are in the office or are working from home, whether your employees want to watch a wellness video or read a flyer, we offer materials to suit your needs. Visit the wellness calendar and you’ll find:

  • Emails
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Booklets
  • Infographics
  • Videos

Our new 2022 calendar is available now, and full of great resources and materials to share with employees. From January through December, let’s make 2022 a great year for oral health and total body wellness!

8 ways Delta Dental plans got better for your employees this past year

In a year like 2021, it’s easy to lose track of the updates that help your employees make the most of their Delta Dental plans. From telehealth to online resources, here are eight ways Delta Dental made it easier than ever for your employees to maintain a healthy smile.

1. Teledentistry lets employees use their benefits outside of the dentist office

In 2021, Delta Dental launched not just one but two teledentistry initiatives. Available under Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® plans, Toothpic and Delta Dental – Virtual Consult let members use their existing diagnostic and preventive benefits to see Delta Dental dentists remotely at no cost.

Toothpic is perfect for members who just need a quick check-in, and Virtual Consult is great for members with more serious concerns that may require a prescription for treatment.

2. New videos make understanding networks and plans easier

The world of insurance can be difficult for people to navigate. As a benefits administrator, you know the value of clear and easy-to-understand communication. That’s why we’ve put together videos that you can share with employees to help them understand the online tools and resources available to them and the differences between the plans we offer.

3. The Delta Dental Mobile App is getting more features and more user friendly

Delta Dental is relaunching the Delta Dental Mobile App for 2022. The new app is faster and more stable and offers useful features such as member ID cards, dentist directory and a cost estimator. It will also be available on both Android and iOS. The old version of the app will be unavailable starting December 20.

4. Delta Dental and VSP are partnering up for paired vision and dental

This year, Delta Dental partnered with VSP to offer vision coverage to Small Business Program (SBP) groups. This coverage is structured in the same tiers as regular SBP coverage, so it’s easy to understand what kind of options are available. If you’re an SBP group and you want vision coverage, you can now get it in one convenient invoice paired with your dental coverage.

5. New open enrollment resources are available

This past open enrollment season brought multiple new features to help employees understand and make the most of their coverage options. In addition to the videos and teledentistry tools already covered, these resources include a new focus on “virtual” booths for open enrollment periods conducted remotely, quality ratings for dentists and refreshed website and customer service experiences. Speaking of quality ratings…

6. DentaQual ratings help employees find dentists they’ll love

This year, Delta Dental added DentaQual ratings to our dentist directory. Your employees can use DentaQual ratings to compare dentists based on objective measurements such as procedures success rate, value and patient retention. These ratings offer a simple and transparent solution to the problem of finding a great dentist.

7. Customer service gets reimagined

After two years of development, design and implementation, we rolled out our new customer service initiative, CX Reimagined. CX Reimagined brought an emphasis on soft skills, like empathy, active listening and de-escalation. Since we rolled out the CX Reimagined initiative, more members than ever before have told us that they’re satisfied with their service and that they’d recommend Delta Dental’s customer service to others. That means that you can feel confident in the quality of customer service Delta Dental provides your employees.

8. Delta Dental’s NCQA Credentialing Accreditation was renewed

Delta Dental Insurance Company’s NCQA Credentialing Accreditation was renewed through March 2024.

“Achieving NCQA Credentialing Accreditation demonstrates that Delta Dental Insurance Company has the systems, process and personnel in place to conduct credentialing in accordance with the strictest quality standards,” said Margaret E. O’Kane, president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA’s Credentialing Accreditation is a quality assessment program that focuses on consumer protection and customer service improvement.


These major updates from 2021 help make Delta Dental plans a choice that will help your employees maintain their oral health and lead to better attendance for your business. We’re proud to be your partners in keeping your employees happy and healthy. Together we shine, and we’ll see you in 2022!

This email series for self-insured groups promotes preventive care

One of the best things your employees can do to keep their smile bright and healthy is to make good use of their diagnostic and preventive benefits. Regular trips to the dentist can help catch little problems before they become big ones, thus avoiding potentially costly and painful dental problems.

When employees make use of diagnostic and preventive benefits, it’s also good for your organization. For example, if an employee has to take sick leave to get a root canal, that represents a loss of time and money for everyone involved (especially if the issue could have been caught when a filling would have sufficed).

Enter the preventive care reminder emails

Help your employees make the most of their benefits with an opt-in email series. This email campaign, available for self-insured groups, targets employees who haven’t generated any dental claims in the past seven months. As part of this campaign, employees will receive a series of three emails:

  1. An email reminding them to schedule an appoint for a cleaning and exam.
  2. A congratulatory email after their visit applauding them for taking charge of their oral health. This email will also encourage them to set a reminder to return to the dentist in six months.
  3. A reminder email to schedule another exam and cleaning (if they chose to set one).

Does this email series really work?

Comparing claims data across different groups, we’ve found a substantial increase in preventive care utilization rates among employees who receive and open preventive care reminder emails compared to those who don’t.

The more employees who make use of their diagnostic and preventive benefits, the better it will be for both workers and your organization. Healthier smiles for your employees and more savings for your company. That’s what we call win-win.

Are you interested in the preventive care reminder campaign for your self-insured group? Contact your Account Manager to sign up!

How oral health can help your employees in the fight against diabetes

One in three Americans will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime if current trends continue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chances are a significant number of your employees are — or will be — seriously affected by the disease.

The estimated annual cost of diabetes in the U.S. is more than $327 billion, meaning that almost one in four dollars spent on health care is used to care for people with diabetes. The estimated cost in lost productivity alone is $90 billion. And research shows that the higher health care spending associated with diabetes actually begins well before diagnosis.

Fortunately, early screening and detection can help delay or even prevent complications from diabetes. Evidence suggests that periodontal changes are the first clinical manifestation of the condition. Regular dental check-ups can play a crucial role in reducing the devastating toll of diabetes.

November is American Diabetes Month, so it’s the perfect time to raise awareness and share resources with your employees. It’s important to highlight the role of regular check-ups in early diagnosis, as well as the importance of oral health care in managing diabetes.

The role of oral health care in diabetes

Many of your employees with diabetes probably aren’t even aware that they have the disease. As many as 20% of people who have diabetes don’t know they do, according to the CDC, and most with prediabetes (84%) are unaware of their condition.

Diabetes causes serious problems throughout the body, and the mouth is no exception. Diabetes can increase the sugar in saliva, which feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities. It also reduces the body’s ability to fight oral infection. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease, which can lead to pain, chewing difficulties and even tooth loss.

An oral exam can help detect diabetes because, like many other conditions, it often shows its first symptoms in the mouth.

Oral symptoms of diabetes to watch out for include:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • A reduced or altered sense of taste
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dry mouth
  • A burning sensation in the mouth
  • Chronic bad breath or bad taste
  • Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
  • Oral infections that are slow to heal

Educate your employees on diabetes and oral health

Consider posting these early warning signs on your company’s website or social media, and advise employees experiencing symptoms to tell their dentist or physician. If symptoms are detected early enough, your employees can not only delay but possibly prevent progression.

Try some of these resources to help remind your employees of the importance of early diagnosis during American Diabetes Month:

Remind employees with diabetes to take time to check their mouths regularly for any problems and to visit the dentist for check-ups and cleaning.

Offer support to employees with diabetes

If you don’t already, consider offering SmileWay® Wellness Benefits as part of your employees’ dental package. Available for Delta Dental PPO™ plans, SmileWay Wellness Benefits are specifically for employees diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as diabetes. The benefits can provide these employees with additional annual cleanings and gum treatments that help treat oral issues associated with these conditions.

Eligible enrollees can receive these added benefits each calendar or contract year:

  • 100% coverage for one scaling and root planing procedure per quadrant (D4341 or D4342)
  • 100% coverage for four procedures from the following list, in any combination:
    • Prophylaxis (D1110 or D1120)
    • Periodontal maintenance procedure (D4910)
    • Scaling in the presence of moderate or severe gingival inflammation (D4346)

If your company offers SmileWay Wellness Benefits, remind employees they can easily opt in online by logging in and navigating to the optional benefits.

During American Diabetes Month, don’t forget to remind your employees about the central role oral health can play in preventing and managing diabetes.

COVID-19 by the numbers

The early days of the pandemic brought a tidal wave of changes to businesses and their employees. Navigating this new normal can be tricky, especially since the situation seems to be changing daily. Looking at the changes that occurred during the pandemic can help you understand what trends to anticipate and how to prepare your benefits offerings accordingly.

Let’s take a high-level look at how COVID-19 impacted workers, dentists and the dental insurance industry, as well as a deep dive into claims data, patient surveys and expert opinion.

The rise of teledentistry

During the early stages of the pandemic in the United States, dental offices were closed to physical appointments for weeks. This led to a massive surge in the popularity of teledentistry services. Synchronous appointments (those with live phone or video interaction between dentists and their patients) saw a 3,000% increase between 2019 and 2020, according to Delta Dental claims during that period. Asynchronous appointments (where patients took photos or videos that were sent to a dentist for later review) saw a 1,000% increase in the same period.

The use of teledentistry has declined as the pandemic has worn on and dentist offices have reopened, but 2021’s synchronous and asynchronous appointment numbers still remain six times and two times higher than 2019 levels, respectively.

More states also updated their teledentistry laws during the pandemic. Based on Delta Dental’s internal tracking, 14 states added teledentistry regulations to their laws or expanded existing regulations, including states such as Texas that previously hadn’t allowed the practice of teledentistry at all.

Most importantly, in a phone survey of teledentistry patients during the pandemic, patients expressed widespread satisfaction with their options. This aligns with pre-pandemic expectations about teledentistry. Of those surveyed before the pandemic, 78% expected to use teledentistry within the next five years. That same group anticipated that working people, children and people with disabilities would benefit the most from teledentistry.

Dentists also had praise for teledentistry, with over 80% of dentists identifying it as useful for improving access to oral care, increasing specialists’ access to rural and underserved communities and as a time-saving technique. 

Virtual visits may not replace in-person checkups, but they remain a valuable tool for employees to get expert opinions and feedback when they can’t make it into the dentist office or prefer a remote appointment.

Providing alternatives for employees who can’t make it to the dentist office

The beginning of the pandemic was marked by profound economic uncertainty as dental practices closed and people sheltered in place. General practitioner income dropped nearly 18% in 2020 compared to 2019.

To help keep dental practices open and seeing patients, Delta Dental offered network dentists loans and reimbursements for personal protective equipment (PPE) costs and made free teledentistry tools available to members.

Loans offered in partnership with Provide (formerly Lendeavor) allowed dentists to make purchases, stay on top of debts and pay staff to ensure that they could keep their doors open. Delta Dental also offered a supplemental reimbursement to help offset the costs of PPE and office cleanings, ensuring that dentist offices remained safe for staff and patients alike.

The pandemic saw the rollout of two teledentistry options for Delta Dental members:

  • Virtual Consult is a synchronous service where members can use a smart device to have a live video chat with a Delta Dental dentist.
  • Toothpic is an asynchronous service that allows members to take photos of problem areas and get an assessment from a Delta Dental dentist within 24 hours.

These teledentistry tools allowed Delta Dental members to get expert advice and feedback on their dental needs even when they couldn’t make it into the office.

How people used their benefits

The early stages of the pandemic saw a decline in the number of patients going to the dentist’s office. One of the main reasons for the decline was that the sharp economic shutdown led to over 20 million Americans losing their jobs (PDF) and their dental coverage as well.

This decline had a profound effect on the nation’s oral health. In 2019, the most common procedures according to Delta Dental claims data were either routine preventive care or evaluations for specific issues. This shifted in 2020, when some of the most common procedures were fillings and root planing. 

Instead of staying on top of their dental health with low-cost diagnostic and preventive care, people instead required more expensive procedures to address the effects of dental neglect.

In addition to the economic hardships COVID-19 brought to patients, COVID also increased mental and emotional strain. Since the pandemic began, the number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorders has risen to over 40% from about 10%.

These symptoms can manifest in jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Based on Delta Dental claims data, the number of patients requiring occlusal guards to prevent damage rose nearly 10% in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Anxiety and depression can also lead to an unhealthy diet or substance abuse, which can in turn lead to oral health issues such as cavities. This may also help to explain the surge in fillings and scaling and root planing procedures in 2020.

Health and safety in the dental office

Even though COVID-19 is spread by exhaled aerosolized droplets, visits to the dentist’s office proved safer than visiting any other medical professional during the pandemic. 

Nearly 100% of dentist offices rapidly adopted enhanced infection control measures like pre-appointment screenings, in-office air purification and antiviral mouthwashes. 

Once vaccines became available, they saw widespread adoption amongst dentists, even before state and federal mandates. By the second quarter of 2021, over 90% of dentists had received at least one vaccination shot for COVID-19.

Patients also view dentists as valuable sources of information about their overall health in addition to their oral health. Two-thirds of dentists reported receiving questions from patients about the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the ADA (PDF).

Dentists rose to the occasion, with over 80% reported feeling prepared for these discussions and 95% believing it was important to have such discussions with patients. For employees who may be hesitant to get the COVID vaccine, speaking with trusted health professionals like dentists may help persuade them of the efficacy of getting vaccinated.

What did we learn from COVID-19?

Here are three key takeaways for employees and your business as you look to the future.

  • Encourage employees to use their benefits even during times of crisis. During the early stages of the pandemic, going to the dentist for a teeth cleaning was likely far from most people’s minds. Letting oral health slide in the short term can lead to costly and painful issues in the long term. Teledentistry tools can help employees get expert evaluation, even when they can’t make it into the dental office.
  • Let employees know what resources are available to them. Studies have shown that most people don’t really understand how insurance works. Your help as an insurance expert can go a long way towards letting employees know what kind of coverage and resources are available to them. There are plenty of benefits materials available for you to download and share with employees. Additionally, initiatives like Smile On can help employees maintain their coverage even in the face of economic uncertainty.
  • Consider benefits as part of your employees’ total wellness. Dental benefits are essential for helping employees maintain their overall health and wellness. Many ailments have symptoms that manifest in the mouth, including stress and anxiety. Valuable employee benefits can also help ease employees’ stress about staying healthy and paying for care. When your employees know how to make the most of those benefits, they’re more likely to catch and treat minor issues before they become major ones.

Tips for remote work a year into the pandemic

When coronavirus hit, many offices sprang into action and adapted to remote working environments. As we settle into our second year of living with a pandemic, there’s still much room for improvement in our day-to-day work lives. If you or your employees are working from home, consider sharing these tips to keep them in top mental and physical shape.

Create boundaries

When the lines between home and office blur, maintaining a proper work/life balance can be a challenge. Setting boundaries is important to both getting work done and knowing when the workday is done.

  • Separate your working and living spaces. While you likely didn’t choose your home based on the idea that you’d be working from it daily, carving out a space that’s dedicated to work is a great way to stay on task. Working from bed or a couch can muddle the idea of your home as your sanctuary. Find a corner where you can set up a desk and use it as your office.
  • Stay on schedule. Without a train to catch or traffic to beat, workers have gained back some of their valuable time. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average American worker gained more than half an hour of leisure time in 2020. While it may be tempting to stay online past normal working hours, burnout is real and affected more than two thirds of the remote workforce last year. One report even found that people worked an average of 26 extra hours a month during the pandemic. For your mental health, disconnecting is vital. Set a schedule and stick to it to protect your personal time.
  • Limit distractions. Setting boundaries goes both ways. Just as you should protect your personal space and time, you should also remember when you’re on company time. Sharing your space with family and roommates can invite limitless distractions. If you can’t physically close a door behind you, communicate your working hours with the people you live with and set strict time limits for work and breaks. 

Set routines

In uncertain times, a little routine can go a long way. Creating a routine, the way you would if you were going into an office every day, helps give your day structure and can lower stress and encourage focus.  

  • Dress professionally. Yes, one of the perks from working from home has been escaping from the confines of structured suits and other constrictive workwear for cozy sweatpants. While you should absolutely be comfortable while you work, our brains can form a Pavlovian response to these kinds of clothes. Putting on professional attire is a great way to tell your brain that it’s time to buckle down and tackle the to-do list.
  • Build a routine. Routines give us a sense of structure, accomplishment and well-being. Give yourself time before work to savor coffee, do some journaling, read or go for a jog. If you’re not an early bird, reward yourself after work with some quiet time or a favorite show.

Stay healthy

The American Psychological Association recently reported that 61% of Americans experienced “undesirable weight gain” during quarantine. If you picked up some bad habits in the past year, you’re far from alone. Luckily, there are little things you can do throughout the day to get back on track.

  • Take more meaningful breaks. By now, you’ve heard the importance of getting away from your computer screen a few times a day. If you walk away from your computer screen only to find yourself staring at your phone screen, find other ways to occupy that time. Go for a walk around the block or do a few yoga stretches.
  • Stay on top of your oral health. The American Dental Association reported that routine dental visits were down 20% last year. If you’ve been snacking at your computer, breaks are a great time to squeeze in an extra brushing or flossing to keep your mouth healthy and refreshed.
  • Invest in ergonomics. If you’re still working from an old dining room chair or using an old TV dinner tray for a desk, it’s time to upgrade — your body will thank you for it. Haphazard workstations and poor posture can wreak havoc on your body. It can even cause jaw pain. Proper ergonomics doesn’t need to equal expensive new furniture. Often, a few height adjustments can work wonders. Check out this checklist to adapt your workstation. 
« Older posts

© 2022 Word of Mouth

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑