Delta Dental adds tailored oral care benefits for those with disabilities

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Goran Jurkovic. Courtesy Delta Dental

Delta Dental and its charitable arm are rolling out new training, tools and benefits to create more inclusive and targeted dental care for adults and children with disabilities.

Delta Dental said for the 1% of the population with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), seeing the dentist can be overwhelming, and dentists are not always provided the training, tools or time to care for patients with IDD who may require special accommodations. The situation is compounded even more when a patient finds an equipped provider, only to find special services are not covered by dental insurance.

That is all changing. Beginning Jan. 1, children and adults with special health care needs will have access to enhanced benefits through the Delta Dental network in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, if their employer opts in.

Benefits include:

  • Additional visits to the dentist’s office and/or consultations that can be helpful prior to the first treatment to help patients learn what to expect and what is needed for a successful dental appointment.
  • Up to four total dental cleanings in a benefit year.
  • The use of silver diamine fluoride that can be applied to cavities for patients who can’t tolerate the use of dental instruments.
  • Treatment delivery modifications necessary for dental staff to provide oral health care for patients with sensory issues, behavioral challenges, severe anxiety or other barriers to treatment.

The enhanced benefit is offered by Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, with its philanthropic arm, the Delta Dental Foundation, serving as a key partner.

The foundation’s charitable efforts with organizations such as the Special Olympics highlighted the need for a more sensitive, inclusive approach to treatment.

“Delta Dental has listened to the pleas of families and caregivers in trying to reduce barriers to care for this most medically and dentally underserved population,” said Dr. Steven Perlman, global clinic director and founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles. “Access to and the ability to receive quality oral health care is the No. 1 problem faced by children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.”

As part of the Delta Dental Foundation’s charitable efforts to help oral health professionals better understand and care for those with disabilities, the foundation is sponsoring a free continuing education series through Penn Dental Medicine. Dentists completing the courses will receive a Disabilities Dentistry Clinician Expert designation.

“We have been engaged in this space for years, working to make oral health care accessible and equitable to all. Now, we are pushing other dental benefit companies to follow suit. Providing excellent coverage that meets all patient needs is the right thing to do,” said Goran Jurkovic, CEO, Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. “We must be inclusive in all facets of our business as we serve our communities. This is the first step.”

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