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Choosing the Right Dental Plan for Employees

You’re finally ready to choose a dental plan for your employees – you’ve made a great decision! A majority of consumers consider dental benefits to be a “very important” part of the essential benefits package. Choosing a dental plan can be a confusing and complicated task, even to a seasoned business owner. The best plan for one company might not necessarily be the best plan for another. But what factors should you consider?

Age is an important factor in determining your employees’ dental needs.

  • Employees between the ages of 20-39 are less likely to have poor oral health. This age bracket is also more likely to have children. They appreciate tools that encourage kids to practice good oral health habits.
  • Employees between the ages of 40-59 appreciate a dental plan that covers more restorative procedures.
  • Those in the 60+ age range are more likely to face more complicated conditions and need a dental plan that covers full restorations

Prevention is key. While medical insurance primarily focuses on treatment, prevention is the key idea behind dental insurance. What types of services does the dental insurance plan cover? It seems like all policies are alike – but they’re not! Look for an insurance plan that emphasizes preventive and diagnostic care. Most dental problems, such as cavities, are nearly 100% preventable with proper dental care.

Work within your budget. As an employer, it’s important to understand what your payment obligations are. In addition to monthly premiums, there may be cost-sharing arrangements on services. Next, look at deductibles. This is the amount that members must pay before the insurance company pays for all or a portion of the costs. Deductibles vary. Lower-priced premiums typically have higher deductible amounts. There are also plan maximums. The higher the annual maximum, the higher the premium.

Pick a plan with a large network. How many dentists will be in network locally? Do you have any employees that work in different states and/or regularly travel? An affordable dental plan doesn’t mean anything when it provides access to only a narrow network of dentists. Make sure your dental insurance offers you the lowest cost…with the most choice.

Regardless of the dental plan you choose, making the decision to give your employees dental insurance is the right choice. Delta Dental recommends that you consult with your broker or consultant when evaluating a dental plan. For more information on Delta Dental of Washington’s insurance, visit DeltaDentalWA.com

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Hooray for National Tooth Fairy Day!

On August 22, we celebrate everyone’s favorite tooth-collector – the infamous Tooth Fairy! And because she’s so nice, we celebrate her twice! National Tooth Fairy Day also occurs once in February. The Tooth Fairy must be a pretty big deal to have two holidays a year.

It’s also a big deal when your child loses a baby tooth, and it should be celebrated accordingly. Leaving gifts from the Tooth Fairy is a great way to help make losing teeth less scary and more enjoyable for kids. We encourage parents to talk about the Tooth Fairy’s visits as a way to discuss good oral health even before a child loses their first tooth. After all, there’s nothing that makes the Tooth Fairy happier than healthy teeth! Whether it’s their first, second or tenth tooth, here are three ways to go all out when a tooth falls out:

  1. Give oral health gifts. In 2013, the Tooth Fairy left cash for 98% of the homes she visited. It’s obvious she’s notorious for leaving money, but isn’t it time she left oral health surprises too? Gift your child with a new toothbrush and toothpaste that feature their favorite cartoon character. Books also make for fun tooth-themed trinkets. There are dozens of children’s books about Tooth Fairy adventures that can add to the Tooth Fairy excitement.
  1. Get crafty and make a DIY Tooth Fairy pillow. Gone are the days of worrying about not being able to find the tiny tooth under your child’s pillow. Never fear – this fun-sized pillow will make it ‘fairy’ easy for the Tooth Fairy to find your child’s lost tooth!
  1. A personalized note and certificate from the Tooth Fairy can be just as exciting as a gift. It gives your little one a sense of accomplishment, and encourages him or her continue taking care of that beautiful smile. Visit www.theoriginaltoothfairypoll.com/tooth-fairy-resources/ to download letters, certificates and more!

Visit the Original Tooth Fairy Poll website for even more ideas on how to make your child’s Tooth Fairy experience sparkle!

Seniors

Dental Benefit Categories and Coverages

Many dental plans offer 3 classes or categories of coverage. Each class provides specific types of treatment and typically covers those treatments at a certain percentage.

Each class also specifies limitations and exclusions. Reimbursement levels vary from plan to plan, so be sure to read your benefits information carefully.

Here are the typical levels in benefit plans:

Class I (usually called Diagnostic & Preventive)

  • Procedures are diagnostic and preventive and typically are covered at the highest percentage (for example 90 – 100% of the allowable dental charge).
  • Give patients a financial incentive to seek preventive care, because such care can prevent more extensive dental disease or even dental disease itself.

Class II (usually called Basic)

  • Includes basic procedures — such as fillings, extractions and periodontal treatment — that are sometimes reimbursed at a slightly lower percentage (for example 70 – 80%).

Class III  (usually called Major)

  • For major services, such as crowns and dentures. This is usually reimbursed at a lower percentage (for example, 50%).
  • Class III may have a waiting period before services are covered.

Limitations and Exclusions

Dental plans are designed to help with part of your dental expenses. The typical plan includes limitations and exclusions, meaning the plan doesn’t cover every aspect of dental care. This can relate to the type or number of procedures, the number of visits or age limits.

If you want to find out more about your coverage specifics, log on to our website at DeltaDentalWA.com where you can find your specific benefits and usage. Or, call us to talk with a customer relation representative at 800-554-1907.

No matter what type of a dental benefit plan you have, it’s important to understand your plan offerings so that you can use your benefits to help improve your health.

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Clean Teeth Make a Happy Camper

Pitch a tent and build a campfire! August nights are ideal for sleeping under the stars.  With so many beautiful campgrounds in Washington, it’s hard to pick just one.

If you want to venture to a lakefront campground, consider Willaby Campground – a picturesque area, tucked into a mossy forest. You could also visit Moran State Park on Orcas Island to make the most of their freshwater lakes, hiking trails and private views.

Before you head out on your camping adventure, remember to prepare your teeth for the great outdoors:

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day.
  • If you floss, which we recommend you do daily, be sure to pack it!
  • Minimize germs by placing a little plastic cap on your toothbrush. But be careful not to leave it on for too long! After an extended period of time, that little cap can help breed bacteria.
  • There are also some great options now for compostable toothbrushes, if you’re not in the mood to pack your bulky electric toothbrush.

Now that you know how to keep your smile in-check, you’re sure to be a happy camper! Where’s your favorite place to camp in Washington? Share it below!

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Sink Your Teeth into Shark Week – Infographic

Cue the Jaws music because Shark Week is well underway! Sharks are the ocean’s top predators, thanks in most part to their enormous and powerful chompers. It’s obvious that shark’s teeth are different from our teeth…but just how different? These unbelievable shark teeth facts will give you something to chew on.

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Sharks are born with teeth.

Our first teeth form in the gums before birth and begin erupting at about 6 months of age. Unlike humans, shark pups enter the world sporting a full set of teeth. This makes it easy for them to feed and fend for themselves, since there is no parental care.

Sharks have thousands of teeth.

Our complete set of 20 temporary teeth is usually in place by age 2 or 3. By around age 18, we have our complete adult set, totaling 32 teeth.

Most sharks have 5 rows of teeth, and can have as many as 3000 teeth at once! It’s a good thing sharks never run out of teeth, as they lose up to 100 per day.

Shark teeth fix themselves.

The tooth is the only part in the human body that can’t repair itself. With the exception of our baby teeth, a lost permanent tooth is unable to be replaced naturally. Sharks are luckier than us. If one of their teeth falls out, another spins forward from their rows and rows of backup teeth. In fact, a shark may grow and use over 20,000 teeth in its lifetime!

Sharks kill their prey and then swallow it whole.

While we use our teeth to bite, chew and grind food, sharks use their teeth to grab, hold and rip prey. Once a shark has grabbed its prey, the shark swallows its food whole. It may not sound polite, but for sharks, it gets the job done.

If the Tooth Fairy visited sharks, they would all be rich.

According to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll®, the average price of a human tooth is $3.50. Imagine how rich we’d all be if we had shark teeth! Shark teeth are more than teeth – they’re fossils. The teeth of a megalodon are always in high demand, and are considered the most valuable of shark teeth. A single tooth is worth an average of $300!

Shark teeth have built-in toothpaste.

It’s no wonder sharks don’t get cavities – the surface of their teeth contains 100% fluoride! The teeth of humans and other mammals contain hydroxyapatite, which is an inorganic constituent also found in bone. It’s important to note, however, that sharks don’t eat sugar.

What facts did you find most fascinating about shark teeth? Tell us below!

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Five Reasons to Floss like a Boss

Are you worried your dental hygienist will ask if you floss, or worse, that they already know you don’t? Your teeth and gums don’t lie. Here are five reasons to change your ways and get in the habit of flossing like a boss.

  1. Two is better than one – brush and floss together: The soft bristles on your toothbrush work to remove the sticky plaque on your teeth that can cause cavities. According to the American Dental Association, flossing helps clean the spaces between teeth.
  2. Flossing protects your gums: Your teeth are attached to the bones in your jaw by the roots. They’re protected and covered by the soft tissue of your gums. Small food particles can get caught in the tissue between your teeth. Plaque can build up and harden into tartar. Only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar from teeth. If untreated, tartar and plaque will spread bacteria below the gum line, causing periodontitis, an acute form of gum disease.
  3. You’ll save money: By practicing regular preventive dental care, you won’t need expensive dental procedures that will cost you time and money.  Be sure to see your dentist for cleanings and take advantage of the procedures your insurance covers.
  4. Flossing helps prevent disease: Research has shown that the bacteria created in the mouth can spread to other parts of the body, which may lead to heart and lung disease and diabetes, among other illnesses. Flossing daily will help keep the bacteria at bay, leading to a healthier mouth and body.
  5. Best of all – no bad breath: Flossing and brushing regularly will keep your breath sweet and your teeth healthy.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to floss. Start today!

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From the Faucet: 3 Reasons to Choose Tap Water

In the heat of summer, it’s necessary to stay hydrated in order to help your body function properly. Your blood pumps easier, and your body is able to remove waste more effectively when you drink an adequate amount of liquid.

Unfortunately, too many people turn to soda and sports drinks to quench their thirst. While the occasional indulgence is okay, here are 3 reasons you should choose water instead of sugary drinks:

1) Tap water contains fluoride. It’s true that nearly all naturally occurring water contains some level of fluoridebut in many cities water is fluoridated to the optimal level in order to fight tooth decay. Choosing tap water in place of bottled water will not only help save the environment (goodbye, plastic!), but it will also give your teeth decay-fighting superpowers.

2) Tap water is sugar-free! Unlike common sports drinks, water contains no cavity-causing sugars. In fact, one 20 oz. bottle of a common sports drink can contain up to 40 grams of added sugar. Save yourself empty calories, and avoid tooth troubles, by bringing a refillable water bottle to your summer sports adventures.

3) Tap water is more affordable. If you’re loyal to bottled-water, chances are good that you’re spending nearly 300 times more than tap-water aficionados. An estimated $11.8 billion dollars was spent on 9.7 million gallons of bottled-water. This means a gallon of bottled water costs $1.22 per gallon. Tap water only costs $.004 per gallon.

Will you make the switch?

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Keep Your Smile Healthy During Pregnancy

Congratulations, you’re expecting a baby! It’s time to take special care of your body – and your smile. If you haven’t had a chance to visit your dentist before you got pregnant, go now. Dental cleanings and treatments are safe and encouraged for pregnant women. During pregnancy, there may be a link between untreated gum disease and pre-term births or babies born at lower weights. To avoid the risk of spreading infections through your body, be sure to get treatment for cavities and/or other emergency dental work. Cosmetic dental work, such as teeth whitening, should be avoided during pregnancy. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that dental treatments be performed during the second trimester of pregnancy. You may wonder if you should avoid X-rays during pregnancy. According to the American College of Radiology, no single X-ray produces enough radiation exposure to harm a developing fetus. Antibiotics to treat infections are also considered safe. The best way to have a healthy smile during pregnancy is to practice good oral health. Here are some tips:

  • Brush your teeth gently with a soft toothbrush twice a day. Thoroughly clean along the gum line.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Go to your dentist’s office for a professional cleaning. Depending on the health of your teeth and gums, your dentist may recommend an additional cleaning during your pregnancy.
  • Drink tap water with fluoride to help strengthen your teeth.

Pregnancy is an exciting time. Taking these small steps will help keep you healthy now and after your baby is born.

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Prepare your Teeth for Travel

Vacations are one of the most fun parts of the summer. Whether you’re travelling locally to bask in the beauty of Mount St. Helen’s, or flying to a more tropical destination, your vacation should be a time filled with relaxation and memorable experiences. We all know it’s important to be organized before a big trip, but are your teeth prepared? After you pack your swimsuit and sunblock, read our traveling teeth checklist.

  • Visit your dentist! Has it been over 6 months since you visited your dentist for a check-up? If your answer is “Yes”, get an appointment before you hit the road. It’s a lot easier to take care of a small cavity or tooth sensitivity at home than on vacation.
  • Pack a dental travel kit. A toothbrush is essential, but there are other dental items that you should pack too. First, make sure you pack your toothbrush. Remember, not all destinations have a 24-hour store on every corner. Other important items include toothpaste, floss, lip balm and a dental first aid kit just in case a filling or crown comes out.
  • Eat ice with caution. While ice isn’t as harmful as candy, crunching on it can easily damage enamel or chip a tooth. Cut the crunching and enjoy ice in its liquid form.

Happy Vacation! Now you’re ready to relax without worry! What trips do you have planned for the rest of the summer?

Herpes

Relieve Cranky Cankers

If you’ve ever had a canker sore, you’re not alone. In fact, more than half of the population regularly experiences these small, but painful ulcers. Less than one centimeter in diameter, canker sores often affect the soft areas of the mouth, including the tongue, cheek and lips.

Their specific cause is still unknown, but many experts believe bacteria and viral infections play a significant role. Feeling cranky about cankers? Good news! Here are 3 ways to relieve pain and hurry the healing.

  1. Avoid eating spicy or citrus-based foods; these will irritate the sores and cause increased discomfort.
  2. Apply over-the-counter ointments that contain phenol. There are several medicated ointments available at drug stores. Some medicines help numb the pain of the canker sore, while others protect the surface of the sore from irritation.
  3. If you haven’t already, switch to toothpaste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical found to cause and aggravate canker sores. Visit slsfree.net to see a list of SLS-free products.

Fortunately, canker sores aren’t contagious and typically heal on their own after one or two weeks. However, if you’re cursed with frequent canker sores, consult your dentist to discuss antibiotic options.