Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: teens

Send kids back to school with a smile

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely been hard on you and your employees. But it’s also been hard on their children, particularly their teeth. In fact, dental care was children’s No. 1 unmet health care need during the pandemic, according to a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Let’s meet that need! With children returning to school, now’s the perfect time to help ensure that your employees’ kids get the dental care they need.

Kid-friendly coverage

Delta Dental covers the dental services your employees’ children need for strong, healthy teeth.

Sealants

Sealants help protect children’s permanent teeth by covering them with a thin plastic coating. Sealants are a very effective way to combat tooth decay, preventing 80% of cavities for two years and continuing to protect teeth for up to four years. Sealants are most effective when applied to permanent teeth soon after they emerge.

Most of our plans cover dental sealants for children, which means your employees can often get their kids protective sealants at little or no out-of-pocket cost. All standard DeltaCare® USA plans cover sealants. Sealants are also a standard benefit in group Delta Dental PPO™ plans, although coverage for sealants can vary by policy.

If your plan covers sealants, you can use this helpful flyer to educate employees about this procedure.

Fluoride treatment

Fluoride treatment, also known as topical fluoride or fluoride varnish, is a common procedure for children to help strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay. This service typically has an age limitation, which can vary by plan.

If your plan covers this preventive service, share this flyer about fluoride treatment to help parents understand what it is and why it matters for their kids’ dental health.

Orthodontics

The preteen and teenage years are the most popular time for orthodontic treatment, such retainers and braces.

Orthodontic coverage is available under both Delta Dental PPO and DeltaCare USA plans. In fact, our plans can help cut the cost of braces in half, which is why we were recently recognized as the best overall dental insurance for braces.

All DeltaCare USA plans cover orthodontics at set copayments with no maximums or deductibles, and you can choose to add orthodontics to any Delta Dental PPO plan.

Wellness resources you can share

Help your employees and their kids get ready for a healthy school year with these helpful resources.

Back-to-school resources

Send your employees our back-to-school resources, including articles and recipes to promote children’s dental health. Post the link on your intranet, include it in an internal newsletter or click the “Share” button at the top of the page to send it to employees by email.

Looking for a quick PDF to attach to an email or print and post in a break room? Check out our back-to-school dental tips in flyer form.

Wellness library

You can find easy-to-share articles about kids’ and teens’ dental health in Delta Dental’s online wellness library, including back-to-school tips, a guide to healthy dental habits for kids and dental health advice for teens.

You can also share healthy recipes kids will love and informative videos on topics from teething trouble through caring for teeth with braces. 

Got Spanish-speaking employees? Articles, recipes and videos are also available in Spanish.

Grin! for Kids

Grin! for Kids is a free, full-color activity book that covers a variety of dental health topics in a fun and interactive way for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Your employees’ kids will love the games, puzzles, jokes, coloring pages and more. You or your employees can download and print the latest version and browse back issues for more games and activities. This publication is available in both English and Spanish.

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.

7 dangerous dental trends from TikTok

When it comes to bad dental advice on TikTok, the hits just keep on coming. After a much-publicized series of viral videos about do-it-yourself teeth filing, several new and equally horrifying dental trends have emerged on the social media platform.

While you might have hoped TikTokers would have learned their lesson after the tooth-filing debacle, apparently that was just the warm-up. Here are some of the newest and most widely viewed harmful dental trends on the social media platform right now.

Using household cleaning products to whiten teeth

Scrubbing teeth with an abrasive pad that contains sulfurous acid and formaldehyde might seem like an obviously bad idea, but at least one TikTok user disagrees.

In a (since deleted) video viewed more than 2.5 million times, TikTok user @theheatherdunn revealed that for the past two years, she’s used pieces of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, which the manufacturer advertises as having the “muscle to take on tough messes all around the house,” to whiten her teeth.

In the video, in which she also advised against using fluoride on teeth, Dunn said, “Yes, I am prepared for all the dentists that are going to come on here and be like, ‘Don’t do it — she’s crazy!’ I don’t care.”

Maybe you should, Heather?

Do-it-yourself orthodontics

In a video viewed 9.5 million times, a young woman wrapped her front teeth with several elastic hair ties, claiming she was going to close a gap between her front teeth in three days. She also posted a follow-up video showing off her alleged results. And just to drive the point home, she created a video mocking dentists who responded to her DIY braces videos in horror.

The dentists’ reaction was warranted. The practice shown in the video can restrict the blood flow to teeth, potentially changing their color or even leading to tooth loss. The elastic bands can also lead to gum inflammation or infection.

While the TikTok videos are new, this trend has been around for quite a while, as DIY braces also became a viral phenomenon on YouTube in 2015.

Making prosthetic teeth and partial dentures with art supplies

Another cringeworthy trend involves using InstaMorph beads, made from a polyester thermoplastic that can be heated and molded into various shapes, to repair or replace teeth.

TikTok user love86emily posted a video, which has almost 47,000 likes, showing how to mold a handful of the tiny choking hazards into a “tooth.” Another user’s video showing how to repair a chipped tooth with the beads, which aren’t certified food-safe by the FDA, has received 1.7 million views.

Creating “shark teeth” for crowns

One of the most destructive TikTok trends involves people filing their teeth into narrow pegs so that they can be fitted with crowns, or in some cases, what the subjects mistakenly believe are veneers. While dentists have pointed out in replies that veneers often require little or no prep, let alone grinding your teeth into nubs, these videos continue to appear frequently on the platform.

Gluing vampire fangs to teeth

For some, Halloween means going trick or treating, dressing up in costumes, and gluing fangs to their teeth with a cyanoacrylate adhesive, otherwise known as super glue or nail adhesive. Although it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a toxic permanent adhesive is both toxic and permanent, that hasn’t deterred the many TikTok users who have used the glue to get the perfect vampire grin.

But wait, there’s more!

Users have also recently posted videos in which they apply 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly to their teeth to whiten them. Others have promoted flossing with human hair.

The general mindset of these DIY dental fans seems to be best summed up by user claudes244: “If you’re a dentist, don’t tell me this is wrong — spare me the grief. The damage has already been done.”

How can I protect my employees?

To help your employees and their children avoid the costly and potentially irreparable damage these TikTok dental tips can cause, consider taking these steps:

  • Email or text your employees, particularly the parents of teens, to alert them to these trends and warn them of the dangers.
  • Post information on your company’s social media about the danger of these fads and alternatives.
  • Remind employees that their dental benefits offer safe ways to fix imperfect smiles, such as cleanings and possibly orthodontics or professional teeth whitening.
  • Since cost savings is one of the appeals of these TikTok trends, remind employees that under most plans, cleanings and exams are available to them at low or no cost.

Teeth filing a dangerous trend for teens

A troubling trend has emerged on social media during the coronavirus outbreak: DIY teeth filing with household items such as nail files.

In June 2020, a 19-year-old TikTok user named Mia Dio posted a video of herself filing her teeth with a nail file. The video went viral. After being watched nearly a half million times, numerous TikTok videos have been posted showing young people filing their teeth.

Wait, what? Why would anyone do this?

In the video, Dio explains that she wants to remove imperfections in her teeth, but doesn’t want to spend the money for a professional procedure, such as an enameloplasty.

“We’re ballin’ on a budget!” she said.

Later in a Washington Post interview, Dio also said that she was reluctant to visit a dental during the current coronavirus pandemic. The TikTok videos also imply some confusion about the nature of tooth enamel which, unlike nails and hair, doesn’t regenerate.

Filing teeth can destroy tooth enamel, cause temperature sensitivity or injure teeth, which can result in costly dental procedures or even extraction.

Yikes! So what can I do about this?

Many dental professionals have taken proactive steps to ensure their patients and their families don’t try this. Some have decided to fight fire with fire by posting their own TikTok videos warning people about the danger of the practice.

To spread the word to your employees, steps you might consider include the following:

  • Send an email to your employees that explains this trend and warns them about the dangers. This may be especially effective for the parents of teens, who may not be aware of what their children watch on social media.
  • Post information on your company’s website, Facebook page or social media feed about the danger of this fad and safe alternatives.
  • Suggest safe alternatives for imperfect smiles that may be available through your company’s dental policy, such as cleanings, orthodontics, cosmetic procedures and professional teeth whitening.
  • Remind your employees that they can safely visit the dentist during the pandemic for any procedure they might need

However you choose to discuss it, ensure that your employees and their children understand that filing their own teeth is a terrible idea. And that the resulting damage can take a real bite out of their wallet.

As Dio said later in the Post interview, after she was explained what the risks were, “I probably would have thought twice about it.”

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