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Do you understand what a waiting period or an effective date means for your dental plan? Did you know you can avoid costly surprises by requesting a pre-treatment estimate? Taking the time to understand more about your dental plan can be beneficial. Here’s what you need to know.

What is an effective date?
The effective date refers to the day a member (an individual covered under a benefit plan) is eligible to start using the dental plan.1 For many employer-sponsored dental plans, the effective date is the first day of the month after the member starts their job. However, effective dates can vary by dental benefits carrier and plan type.

Dental coverage emphasizes preventive care. As a result, once members reach their effective dates, they can usually begin using their benefits to cover preventive services like exams and cleanings.

What is a waiting period?
After members reach their effective date, they still may not be eligible to receive benefits for all dental treatments — especially major services like crowns or dentures.2 Although it’s more common with individual plans,3 some employer-sponsored plans have a benefit waiting period. This is the amount of time before members are eligible to use their full coverage.

For example, if your plan has a six-month waiting period for basic non-preventive services, such as a routine tooth extraction or a filling, it wouldn’t cover those services during that time. Some plans will waive the waiting period if the member had dental coverage in the past 30 to 60 days.

As with effective dates, waiting periods can differ from plan to plan. If your plan does have them, make sure you are aware of any benefit waiting periods.

What if a procedure isn’t covered?4
If a member needs major dental work, they should check their coverage. In addition to waiting periods, some dental plans may not cover select procedures such as teeth whitening or orthodontia. Some plans also may not fully cover the cost of a certain procedure, but may offer an allowance towards the procedure. For example, a plan may not cover all costs for a tooth-colored filling, but pay up to the amount of a silver-colored filling. To ensure members are not surprised by their bill, they should ask their dentist for a pre-treatment estimate from their dental carrier. They should also check with their dental carrier to see what is covered before undergoing any major dental work. Even if the procedure is not covered due to a waiting period, it may be more costly to delay treatment if the problem worsens.

For more tips on understanding your Delta Dental of Illinois dental plan, visit our Dental Basics web page.

1 https://www.deltadental.com/us/en/protect-my-smile/dental-benefits/library-of-terms.html
2 https://www.deltadental.com/us/en/protect-my-smile/dental-benefits/library-of-terms.html
3 https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/122315/6-dental-insurance-plans-no-waiting-periods.asp
4 https://www.thebalance.com/dental-insurance-waiting-period-2645722

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With twice a day brushing and daily flossing, do you know the names of the teeth you’re keeping healthy? Most adults have 32 teeth and children have 20. Learn the origin of all your teeth’s names.

Canines1
It’s no coincidence that these pointed teeth are named after dogs. They are called canines due to their resemblance to a dog’s fangs. While our canine teeth aren’t as long, pronounced or sharp as a dog’s, they are usually longer and more pointed than our other human teeth. Canines are sometimes referred to as eye teeth because of their alignment under the eyes.

Incisors2
Incisors are the front teeth on both your upper and lower jaws. Because their primary purpose is to bite into food, their name came from the Latin word “incidere,” which means cutter.

Molar3
Like incisors, molars are named after the function they perform. Molar is based on the Latin word “mola,” which means millstone. Just as a mill grinds grain into meal, molars — located near the back of your mouth — grind food.

For many people, an extra set of molars (commonly known as wisdom teeth) emerges around age 17 or later. Because wisdom teeth are the last to appear, their name is derived from the belief that we grow wiser with age.4

Premolars5
As you may have already guessed, premolars are named for their alignment just in front of molars. Premolars are sometimes called bicuspids, due to the fact that they have two points or cusps.

1 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/what-is-a-canine-tooth-
2https://www.dictionary.com/browse/incisor
3https://www.dictionary.com/browse/molars
4https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/wisdom-teeth?_ga=2.128297995.602462214.1552926316-1156569257.1552684026
5https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/the-truth-about-premolars-0313

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Zucchinis are plentiful every summer – and our recipe puts a new spin on this farmers market favorite. Not only is this crispy treat a great substitute for starchy potato chips, but it’s also full of teeth-strengthening nutrients.1

Ingredients:
½ cup flaxseed meal
¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ pound zucchini, cut into ¼-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450° F. Using a food processor, finely grind the flaxseed meal, basil leaves and salt. Stir together flaxseed meal mixture and cheese in a medium bowl. Toss zucchini rounds with oil. Dredge zucchini in flaxseed meal mixture one at a time, pressing gently to adhere. Place rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve hot.

1“https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-zucchini-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref”

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Let’s face it, most people enjoy sugary snacks. But they aren’t so enjoyable for your teeth. Here are some easy ways to protect your employees’ smiles and their overall health.1

Clear away the bad
Take a closer look at what’s in your break room. Chances are there are too many sugary and starchy snacks. Sugars and starches mix with bacteria in the mouth to create acid that can lead to tooth decay. Watch out for food that at first glance may seem healthy but contain lots of starch or sugar, such as pretzels, crackers, trail mix and granola bars.

Gooey, sticky and chewy sweets can be especially harmful because they spend more time on the teeth. Starchy foods stick to teeth. What’s more, both sticky and starchy snacks are usually high in calories.

Plus, skip soft drinks that contain sugar or acids (including most sodas). They can wear away tooth enamel. Check the nutrition facts on the label to see if the beverage contains sugar and scan the ingredients list for any acids.

Bring in the good
Limiting snacks that are bad for employees’ teeth doesn’t mean doing away with snacks altogether. It’s simply a matter of finding substitutes that are good for their teeth and still tasty.

Yogurt is full of good bacteria that slows the bad bacteria that causes gum disease. Plus, the calcium helps keep teeth strong. Just make sure to choose low-sugar versions. And, of course, many fruits and vegetables are good snack choices. Apples and carrots stand out because their crunchiness helps stimulate saliva flow to rinse your mouth. Almonds also provide a cleansing crunch and are packed with protein and calcium. These nutrients are great for teeth and help strengthen tooth enamel.

Make sure to have plenty of water around. Encourage employees to drink water after snacking to rinse their mouths and free food particles.

Celebrate good health
Birthday parties and other office celebrations are often a time to indulge in cakes, doughnuts, cookies and other foods that are hard on your teeth. Try substituting sweets with a tempting fruit platter. It can look just as good and taste almost as sweet. Or go with plain dark chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa and a low percentage of sugar. It’s full of antioxidants and nutrients.2

You can also use your celebration as an occasion to get moving. Organize a group activity or service-oriented project. Or take the money that would have been spent on celebrations and donate it to a charity of your or your employee’s choice.

Make the office coffee a legitimate perk
Make sure your office’s special blend is so good that no one will be tempted to add sugar to it.

By providing an array of tooth-friendly snacks, you can help give your employees something to really smile about – good oral health.

[1] https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/dental-health-11/misc-dental-problem-news-174/snacking-and-your-teeth-647959.html
[2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dark-chocolate-buyers-guide#section3

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Do you love shopping at your local farmers market? You’re not alone. They’re so popular that there are now more than 8,700 farmers markets nationwide.1 While it should be easy for you to find one near you, it’s not always as easy to decide what to buy.

Let’s take a tour of some popular farmers market choices that are good for your oral health.2

Produce
It’s no surprise that fruits and veggies dominate the list of recommended foods. Not only do they have high nutritional value, but many also have high water content, which helps wash away bacteria from your teeth. Reach for crunchy apples, pears, carrots, cucumbers, celery and broccoli that are effective teeth cleaners. For an instant treat, grab tasty fruit on a stick. Try to avoid highly acidic fruits – including oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits – that can damage tooth enamel.

Stock up on dark, leafy greens, like spinach, kale and more. They’re full of vitamins, minerals and calcium, which are important for strong, healthy teeth and tissues. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly keeping gums healthy in pregnant women.3

Nuts
With all the delicious ready-to-eat foods at most farmers markets, there are plenty of treats to tempt you. Choose nuts instead of sugary and starchy snacks. Pick wisely by watching out for nuts roasted with sugar, though!

Most nuts are full of protein and some, like peanuts, contain vitamin D and calcium, which are good for your smile. Their crunch also stimulates saliva to help clean your teeth.

Dairy products
Cheese and yogurt are especially delicious when they are fresh from the farm. In addition to their great taste, dairy products strengthen your teeth with high doses of calcium. Cheese also raises the pH (lowers the acid) in your mouth and reduces your risk of tooth decay, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry.4

Beverages
It’s always a good idea to stay hydrated during the summer and the farmers market is no exception. Pass by the sugary sweet and acidic carbonated beverages and have a bottle of water handy to quench your thirst. Water will keep your mouth clean between bites, which is especially important if you splurge on a sweet treat!

Milk and fortified soy drinks provide the same teeth-building benefits as other dairy products.

But if you go for a smoothie, choose wisely. Smoothies can pack a lot of nutrients into one drink – but some may also be loaded with added sugar and highly acidic fruits.

[1] https://www.agmrc.org/markets-industries/food/farmers-markets
[2] https://dentistry.uic.edu/patients/healthy-foods
[3] https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/healthy-foods-list-seven-best-foods-for-your-teeth-0214
[4] https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/healthy-foods-list-seven-best-foods-for-your-teeth-0214

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Our Community Grants Program offers support to organizations that provide oral health care and/or education to children in Illinois. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has awarded nearly $1 million over the past six years to Illinois organizations committed to improving children’s oral health.

In 2018, we awarded more than $180,000 to 21 nonprofit and community organizations with programs and services that improve children’s oral health in Illinois. One recipient was Advocate Children’s Hospital (ACH). We awarded ACH a $10,000 grant to expand their pediatric dental clinic in Oak Lawn, Illinois. As the largest network provider of pediatric services in Illinois, ACH’s dental clinic’s services include preventive and restorative dental care, including preventive, perioperative and follow-up dental care.

A high percentage of children treated at the dental clinic are those with special health care needs, including those with medically-complex conditions, as well as uninsured children and children covered by Medicaid. Dental care is individualized per patient and includes the collaboration with their sub-specialty physicians (e.g. oncologists, pulmonologists and cardiologists) to best care for the child’s overall health. Families and caregivers are educated in how to provide necessary daily oral health care for their child, improving their quality of life.

ACH’s pediatric dentist and Delta Dental network dentist, Dr. Jan Lubas has long been involved in mission work to address oral health needs at home and abroad, including multiple trips to war-torn Bosnia where she treated many adults and children with special health care needs. Following one such trip, she advocated to transport a patient to ACH for specialized surgical care, sparking the longstanding partnership to serve children on campus. Now, through her dental clinic in the community and at the hospital campus, she delivers critically-needed oral health services and coordinates treatment with multi-specialty providers to benefit a caseload of 340 total patients.

Jamie Ruzich, pediatric dental surgery assistant and program coordinator, facilitates operations within the dental clinic. She provides administrative and clinical support, including scheduling, follow-up care, patient education and care coordination with medical subspecialties. She works closely with both the child and their family/caregivers. Says Ms. Ruzich, “Many of the families struggle to balance the whole health needs of the child, putting medical issues first. Dental care is an afterthought for some. Others are simply unable to overcome significant limitations to access proper dental care in the community. By collaborating with the patient’s multi-specialty medical team, we can safely perform dental procedures, in surgery as well as outpatient clinics.”

Truly a coordinated dental care team, this clinic is improving the health and oral health of their pediatric patients and increasing their quality of life. Learn more about Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Community Grants Program and how to apply.

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More than 1 in 3 adults across the nation — including almost 45% of those ages 19 to 34 — will not visit the dentist over the course of a year, despite having private dental insurance.1 In Illinois, 25% of people who have dental insurance coverage have not visited the dentist in the past year.2 In short, they are paying for dental insurance they are not using.

If you have dental insurance coverage and are not using these benefits regularly, you could be leaving money on the table and shortchanging your health. Now is a good time to assess whether you’re making the most of your dental coverage — and taking proper care of yourself. Here are five ways to get the most from your dental insurance benefits before your coverage year ends:

1. Take advantage of low-cost preventive care – just $1 now can save up to $50 later.
Most dental plans cover preventive care at little or no cost. In fact, plans often pay for 100% of routine exams and cleanings. Preventive care can help treat oral health problems before they become more time consuming, complex and costly to treat. Research shows that every $1 spent on preventive care can save up to $50 in restorative and emergency treatments.3

2. Get an assessment of your overall health through a dental exam.
During a regular dental exam, a dentist can help identify diseases early and you can get treatment before they progress and lead to more serious problems. In fact, a dentist can detect the signs of more than 120 diseases — including heart disease, diabetes and oral cancer — which have symptoms that appear in the mouth.4 Early detection can make treatment easier and less expensive. It may even be a lifesaver.

3. Worry less about your annual maximum (you’ll seldom reach it).
Not even 3% of people nationwide reach or exceed their dental plan’s annual maximum benefit — or the total amount their dental plan will cover annually.5 So don’t let the fear that you’ll reach your annual maximum prevent you from going to the dentist. Your benefits, deductible and annual maximum reset at the start of your dental plan year. If you have a balance remaining on your annual maximum, you may lose part of this benefit if you don’t visit the dentist. Halfway through the year is a good time to see where things stand.

4. Save money by visiting a network dentist.
Most dental plans offer access to a dental network. Network dentists agree to reduced or pre-established fees as payment in full. Make the best use of your dental plan by staying in network to save the most money.

5. Don’t forfeit your money from flexible spending accounts.
Make sure you use money that’s yours. If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) through a group or employer, those tax-free dollars set aside for out-of-pocket health care expenses also reset each year. That means you will lose any money left over at the end of the plan year, or after a grace period, depending on how your account is set up.6 More than $400 million is forfeited from flexible spending accounts each year when employees miss or forget the deadline.7 Most dental expenses qualify as FSA health care expenses, so budget some of your FSA dollars for your dental needs and use the money you set aside.

1 Health Policy Institute, American Dental Association, pages 2-3, href=”http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_0516_1.pdf”>http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_0516_1.pdf
2 2018 Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, https://www.youroralhealthhub.com/wp-content/themes/oralHealth/resources/DDIL-Oral-Health-and-Well-Being-Survey-2018.pdf, page 5
3 University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, https://dentistry.uic.edu/blog/value-preventive-oral-health-care
4 U.S. Surgeon General Report on Oral Health 2000 – Chapter 3 – Diseases and Disorders, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-10/hck1ocv.%40www.surgeon.fullrpt.pdf, page 37
5 National Association of Dental Plans, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/paying-for-dental-care/using-dental-benefits
6 https://www.healthcare.gov/have-job-based-coverage/flexible-spending-accounts/
7 https://www.businessinsider.com/things-you-can-buy-with-fsa-money-how-to-use-2018

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Consider checking your dental IQ before your next visit to the dentist. A new Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey indicates that a significant portion of the American population is not familiar with certain key dental terms. This unfamiliarity may lead to unease in the dental chair during discussions with your oral health care professional. The Delta Dental national survey finds that the majority of adults are not versed in bruxism (81%), caries (75%) and prophylaxis (64%).

Nearly all survey respondents (92%) say they are familiar with plaque. This sticky film of bacteria and other substances can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, if not removed every day. Most Americans seem versed in gingivitis. Only 13% of adults are not sure about this term, which is an early form of gum disease. Signs of gingivitis include gums that are inflamed, red and swollen and bleed easily.

National knowledge levels show opportunity for growth
While most adults score an A+ on familiarity with frequently used terms, such as plaque and gingivitis, there appears to be room for improvement in basic knowledge of other dental terms. One-third of Americans are not familiar with periodontal disease — one area they could brush up on. This very common condition, also known as gum disease, is typically preventable with proper oral care.

According to the national survey, 2 in 5 adults (40%) are not sure what the term sealant means. This common dental treatment helps to protect teeth from cavities, also known as caries, by keeping food and bacteria out.

“Sealants are simple, painless protection against cavities. Consider sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molar teeth come in,” said Dr. Joe Dill, DDS, MBA, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and network strategy. “Although dental sealants tend to last for years, they should be regularly checked by your dentist for wear.”

Helping to improve the oral health of people in Illinois is at the heart of many of Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s community benefits efforts. The Dentist By 1 community prevention initiative offers exams, cleanings, fluoride treatments and sealants. In the past decade, combined efforts of Delta Dental of Illinois and Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation have provided more than $3 million to programs and organizations in Illinois.

Dental distress preventing proper oral care
About 70 million Americans, or nearly one-third of adults (31%) surveyed, admit to postponing a trip to the dentist because of being afraid of a dental procedure.

“Our oral health has implications for a lifetime and receiving the proper dental care can influence overall health,” Dr. Dill said. “Be sure to ask questions when obtaining a dental health diagnosis or treatment plan recommendation. Your dentist can explain terms that may be unfamiliar to you, which may be helpful as you make important oral health care decisions.”

For an easy-to-navigate resource on dental terminology, please see our Dental Glossary.

About the survey
The Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey was conducted between December 31, 2018, and January 13, 2019, among 1,100 nationally representative Americans ages 18+. The margin of error is +/- 3%.
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With so much produce in season right now, it’s a good time to consider the effects of fruit on your smile.

Not only are fruits better for you than sweets, they can also reduce your cravings for sugary snacks. Most fruits are mouth-friendly, especially crisp ones like apples that help clean plaque from your teeth and freshen breath.1 However, some fruits may have surprising effects on your smile.

Highly acidic fruits2
Lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, grapefruits and grapes are all high in acid, which can wear down your tooth enamel and leave them more vulnerable to cavities. The acid found in these fruits can also irritate mouth sores.

These fruits all contain vitamin C – an important antioxidant that can help prevent gum damage and fight bacteria. However, you can substitute much less acidic fruits like cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelons and bananas, that are still high in vitamin C.

Berries3
While blueberries are one of nature’s superfoods, known for their antioxidants, their violet coloring can leave super stains on your tooth enamel. Other delicious berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries can also stain your teeth.

It’s best to brush your teeth (or rinse with water if your toothbrush isn’t handy) right after enjoying berries.

Fruit juice4
Whole fruits are a better choice than fruit juice. Fruit juice is a much more concentrated source of sugar and is sometimes acidic as well. The juicing process also removes the beneficial fiber found in whole fruit. If you do drink fruit juice, swish with water immediately after.

Dried fruits5
These fruits sometimes contain added sugar and they’re sticky. That means they cling to your teeth, keeping sugars in contact with your teeth longer, which can lead to tooth decay.

Because they still have many healthy nutrients, you don’t need to give up acidic fruits entirely. Just make sure you:

  • Enjoy them in moderation.
  • Don’t leave them in your mouth for long periods.
  • Eat them at mealtime rather than snacking on them throughout the day to minimize the time your teeth are exposed to acids.
  • Rinse with water and chew sugar-free gum afterward to help get rid of lingering acid.

Eating healthy is an important part of maintaining a healthy smile in addition to brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly.  By following these tips, you can make sure you keep your teeth cavity-free as well as get the nutrients your body needs.

1 https://dentistry.uic.edu/patients/healthy-foods-fruits-veggies
2 https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/acidic-fruits-and-teeth-effects-0216
3 https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/foods-stain-teeth-feature#1
4 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020
5 https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/disadvantages-dried-fruit-3227.html

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Get your Philly cheesesteak fix without the starchy bread that can cause tooth decay. Here’s another win for your mouth: The calcium-rich cheese helps build strong teeth and the peppers are packed with vitamin C that can protect your gums.1

Ingredients:
2 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
12 ounces top round steak, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 slices provolone cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Place pepper halves on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until peppers are tender but still holding their shape. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. When onions start to brown, add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes until mushrooms are soft and juices release. Add steak, Italian seasoning, pepper and salt. Cook the steak to your liking, about 3 to 5 minutes, continuing to stir frequently. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce.

Turn your oven to broil. Divide the filling between the pepper halves and top each with a slice of cheese. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

1 https://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/g21948186/food-for-healthy-teeth/

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