Calming your kids at the dentist

by MikeMeehan 10/10/2018 9:09 AM

One of the most important ways to keep your kids cavity free, especially during the season of sweets, is to see the dentist regularly. Routine checkups and cleanings are completely covered by most dental plans, so there’s no reason to skip a visit.  There’s one deterrent, though, that you might run into – kids getting spooked by the dentist. If this happens to your children, check out our tips to help make their next appointment a little easier.  Start early. The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by age 1. Early visits give kids a chance to become familiar with the dentist and may help reduce anxiety down the road.  Lead by example. If you’re nervous about the dentist, your kids might pick up on it and adopt the same attitude. According to a study in the International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, adults can transfer their dental fears to family members. Make a conscientious effort to demonstrate a positive attitude toward the dentist while articulating the value of regular visits. By modelling relaxed behavior, you can let your kids know there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Leverage entertainment. Reshape their attitudes with the power of the page. Pick up library books that explain dental appointments in kid-friendly language. Popular options include Curious George Visits the Dentist by H.A. Rey, Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer and Open Wide: School Tooth Inside by Laurie Keller. To build even more positive associations with the dentist, try bringing their favorite toy or game to appointments.  Take baby steps. Stop by the dental office beforehand so your kids learn what to expect in a lower-pressure situation. Introducing them to the dentist and staff without the stakes of an actual appointment can help them feel more comfortable in the environment.  Practice beforehand. Create a mock dental visit in your own home to remove any confusion they have about what happens in the dental chair. Pretend to clean your child’s teeth while explaining how visiting the dentist helps keep their smiles in tip-top shape.  Use relaxation techniques. If you’ve tried everything and your kids still get the heebie-jeebies in the dental chair, don’t fear! Try calming them down with some simple relaxation exercises. Instruct your child to inhale and exhale slowly and steadily. You can also try a technique where they tense different muscle groups as tight as can be, then release.  It may take some time, but helping your children feel comfortable at the dentist will make lifelong dental care much easier in the long run. 

Helping employees get the most value out of their dental benefits

by MikeMeehan 9/20/2018 9:39 AM

Because dental benefits have the potential to improve both oral and overall health, it’s important that employees make the most of their coverage. By taking some simple steps, you can help encourage employees to leverage their dental benefits as effectively as possible.  Education – Ensure that employees are aware of the value their dental coverage provides. Minimizing costs. To realize the most savings, your employees should visit dentists in their plan’s network. When employees choose a network dentist, they help ensure lower claims costs, which also benefits employers. This offers immediate financial benefits for a self-insured group and can lead to more stable premiums in the long run for fully insured groups. Moreover, make sure your employees know that dentists outside your plan’s network may be able to balance bill. This is what happens when a dentist’s fee for a certain service exceeds the plans’ allowed amount, and the dentist bills the difference.  Preventing dental disease. Because most dental disease is preventable, many dental plans cover the cost of preventive care at 100 percent. Regular exams and cleanings are key to keeping mouths healthy and catching dental diseases early before they become costly problems. Maintaining overall health. Signs of over 120 diseases may be detected in the mouth including diabetes and heart diseases. During regular appointments, dentists will look for these conditions and will screen for oral cancer with the goal of early detection. This can help lower medical costs by increasing treatment options and improving outcomes, according to “Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine and Treatment Planning.” Frequent communication – Clear communication can mean the difference between confidence and confusion. Reminders. Continue to remind employees of the benefits of good oral health and encourage them to utilize preventive care. When you do, mention that they can typically visit the dentist for preventive care at little to no out-of-pocket cost. Updates on changes. If your plan is updated, provide comprehensive information to employees to ensure they fully understand the changes. Check-ins during open enrollment. Employees can make updates at open enrollment, so make sure those who want to make changes don’t miss their chance. This is also a good time to remind employees why they should take advantage of dental benefits.  Ask for feedback. Encourage employees to articulate the positives and negatives of their experiences using their dental coverage. Ask them to provide information that helps prioritize coverage options. And always be open to suggestions.  Resources – Make sure employees have the materials they need to maximize their benefits. Cost savings worksheet. Send a cost savings worksheet to show the financial differences between using an in-network dentist versus an out-of-network dentist. Provider tools. Speak with your dental benefits provider about any communication tools they may offer to make it easier for employees to understand and use their benefits.   

How dental coverage changes when you get married

by MikeMeehan 6/14/2018 11:09 AM

June can be a great time to schedule a wedding. That means it’s also a good time to learn what can happen to your dental benefits when you get married. When it comes to your dental coverage, marriage is considered a “qualifying life event.” After a qualifying life event, you can make changes to your dental plan within a specified amount of time. If your change isn’t requested in time, you may have to wait for open enrollment – the window of time when you can make changes to your dental coverage. Check your dental coverage to see when the adjustment will take effect.  In the period during which you can make a change, you have a couple options. You can choose to keep your coverage as is, become a dependent under your spouse’s plan or make your spouse a dependent under your plan. If one party does become a dependent, they have the option to keep their current coverage or discontinue it. If you choose to be covered under both plans, you have what is known as “dual coverage.” The plan that covered you originally is the primary plan and the plan that covers you as a dependent is the secondary. The primary plan will pay its portion first and the secondary plan will act as a supplement. Depending on what you choose, you may need to make a coverage update. For coverage obtained through employers, HR departments of both parties will need to make the requested change and update you and your spouse’s personal information. If you don’t receive coverage through an employer, you can reach out directly to your dental plan provider.  In the case that you decide not to switch your dental plan but change your last name, you will still need to contact your HR department or benefits provider to update your information. When updates have been made, you may want to request a new insurance card for your next appointment.  By knowing your options ahead of time, you can take some stress off your plate as you prepare for the big day.  

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