Client Library

Delta Dental of Oklahoma is committed to promoting oral health education to all Oklahomans. Need an oral health-related article or tip for your next company newsletter? DDOK's client library provides an easy-to-access resource of dental education information for your employees. Need an article specific to your dental plan? Contact our Corporate Communications Department at 405-607-2100.

Halloween Candy: Time is NOT on your side!
Pre-Determination Of Benefits: The What, When, And Why?
Preventive Dentistry Promotes Workplace Productivity
Teen Years Tough On Teeth
Bacteria To Blame For Bad Breath
Delta Dental Of Oklahoma's Dentist Networks
Baby's First Tooth Means Time For The Dentist
Choosing A Dentist: Beyond Word-Of-Mouth
Did You Know? Dieters Could Be Damaging Dental Health
Oral Health And Learning
Professional Fluoride Treatments May Not Be Necessary For Children
Dental Health Not A Top Priority Among Men
Something To Chew On...
Important Oral Health Facts
Important Health Tip: Whitening May Cause Short-Term Tooth Sensitivity
Important Health Tip: Early Detection Saving Lives
Important Health Tip: Weakness For Sweetness? Avoid 'Sneaky Sugars'
Health Tip: Win The Oral Hygiene Battle
Health Tip: The True Cost Of A Cavity
Health Tip: The Whole Tooth And Nothing But The Tooth
Americans Prove Up To Oral Health Challenge
Back To School: Painful Teeth Can Have Effect In The Classroom
Back To School: (Spanish Version)
Put The Brakes On Bad Oral Health
Part Dentist, Part Detective
The Other Half Of Cleaning Teeth
To Teeth, Sugar In Halloween Candy Really Not That Scary 
Resources For Dental Care Available To ALL Oklahomans
Pain In The Jaw Can Be A Real Grind
Baby Boomers Facing Oral Health Test
Oral Healthcare Strives To Keep Up With Aging Population
DDOK's "Commitment To Excellence" Rooted In Ritz-Carlton™ Philosophy
Oral Health Tips: Does Good Oral Health Improve Child's Ability To Learn?
DDOK Training Further Enhances Communication & Client Care



Pre-Determination of Benefits: The What, When, and Why?

Delta Dental of Oklahoma is proud to be your dental insurance provider and is dedicated to offering the best quality in oral health care at an affordable cost. At Delta Dental of Oklahoma, we know many of our clients will require major dental work at some point in time. It is not uncommon for you to wonder about your possible costs before undergoing such extensive procedures. Although our programs do not require pre-approval, it is a good idea to know whether the treatment proposed is covered under your dental plan and exactly what your share of the cost will be before you receive treatment. 

By requesting your dentist submit a "pre-determination" outlining the proposed treatment, Delta Dental of Oklahoma can provide your dentist with a free estimate of benefits, detailing what Delta Dental of Oklahoma will pay and what your costs will be. It's important to remember that this is not a required procedure for our providers, so you must take the initiative by requesting a predetermination from your dentist when major treatment is recommended. Make sure to submit this request in time to determine coverage and costs before the date of treatment. 

By proactively examining the costs and benefits associated with these services, you can make more informed decisions when it comes to you and your family's oral health care.


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Preventive Dentistry Promotes Workplace Productivity
Dental problems in individuals tend to weaken the bite, but the sharp cumulative bite of dental disease is felt by U.S. companies every year.

The productivity drain associated with dental problems is estimated to cost 164 million work hours annually, as adult employees seek dental care. Children miss more than 50 million hours of school each year due to oral health-related situations. In many cases, this, too, keeps some adult employees away from the workplace to care for their kids. These estimates do not count work hours lost to chronic problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are thought to be connected with oral health status. 

"Encouraging employees to seek preventive dental care could drive incremental productivity gains or reductions in projected health expenditures," said Scott Navarro, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "In cases where oral health is closely linked with overall health, preventive dentistry could help companies control the cost of keeping employees healthy and on the job. 

"Preventive dental care, early detection and treatment save the United States $4 billion annually, according to a study published in Public Health Reports. Other reports indicate that people with dental benefits visit dentists more often and are more likely to stave off serious oral health problems that are expensive and time-consuming to treat. 

"By emphasizing regular, ongoing preventive care and early detection, dental benefits can significantly reduce dental problems for employees and their families, keeping people on the job rather than in the dentist's chair," Dr. Navarro said. 

In a national poll conducted by the nonprofit group Research America, 85 percent of respondents said that their oral health was very important to their overall health. The same poll found that lack of insurance was the primary reason why some respondents hadn't visited the dentist in the past 12 months. 

"Dental benefits have long been seen by U.S. companies as useful recruitment and retention tools, but they deliver other bottom-line benefits, too," Dr. Navarro said. "Catching dental problems before they become really expensive helps to keep insurance premiums low. And it spares companies the cost of work time lost to dental illnesses." 

 

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Active Kids Need Protected Teeth
Need advice on what sports equipment your kids will need this school year? Ask your dentist.

It is estimated by the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation that sports-related injuries will result in the loss of about 5 million teeth for U.S. youth this year. However, dentists see many oral and facial injuries in athletes that could have been prevented. 

"Mouthguards are one of the most effective pieces of protective equipment in sports," says Ed Schooley, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 200,000 oral injuries are prevented each year by athletes using mouthguards. Without protection, it's estimated that athletes' teeth are 60 times more susceptible to damage. 

Mouthguards can range anywhere from five to 300 dollars - a bargain when you consider the rehabilitation costs for a single knocked-out tooth. 

There are three basic types of mouth protection available. They include stock or ready-to-wear mouthguards, boil-and-bite mouthguards, and custom-made mouthguards. 

Stock mouthguards are purchased off-the-shelf and are used without any modifications or forming to the mouth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are also purchased off-the-shelf; however, they are then heated and placed in the mouth before use in order for them to form to the teeth and mouth. Custom-made mouthguards are created from molds taken of athletes' teeth. Any dentist can provide more information about custom-made and other types of mouthguards. 

"Custom-made mouthguards provide the highest degree of comfort, protection and durability, but even the lowest-end mouthguard is better than nothing," said Schooley. 

 

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Teen Years Tough on Teeth
Hormones, Other Factors to Blame for Wreaking Havoc on Oral Health 

The preteen and teen years may prove some of the toughest for teeth. While every stage of life brings a new set of oral health issues, the mouth is often beset by unique combinations of internal and external factors such as hormones, social pressures and lifestyle changes, often converging with deleterious effects on teeth. 

"As kids become more independent, their diets, hygiene and fashion choices combined with physiological changes can result in damage to teeth and gums," said Scott Navarro, DDS, an oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "Adolescents should be encouraged to keep up their good, lifelong oral health practices and be aware of certain relevant risk factors." 

Dr. Navarro said that those factors include:

  • Hormonal changes: Hormones released in puberty can cause increased blood circulation in the gums, and the American Academy of Periodontology says that "during this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender." Talk to your dentist if your teen experiences any of these symptoms. A dental professional can prescribe a treatment program that helps maintain healthy gums and teeth during periods of hormonal change.
  • Diet: As teens spend more time with friends outside the watchful eyes of parents, they often acquire new diets that are abundant in sugary, starchy foods and sweetened drinks. To minimize the risk to teeth, teens should brush often in the course of a day and drink lots of fluoridated water.
  • Contact sports: Oral injuries are often permanent, but many can be prevented by wearing a mouthguard while playing sports. Whether mouthguards are fitted by a dentist or purchased off-the-shelf, teens should keep them clean by rinsing the guards often and storing them in ventilated containers.
  • Eating disorders: Eating disorders are very serious and can cause many health problems, including damage to the teeth and gums. Bulimia and anorexia can lead to inflammation of the gums, erosion of tooth enamel, cavities and, potentially, can result in the loss of teeth. A dentist can usually treat the oral health problems but cannot treat an eating disorder. If you suspect that an adolescent has an eating disorder, seek medical help right away.
  • Mouth piercing: Jewelry in the lips or tongue can chip teeth, scrape gums and cause other problems as well, including serious infections.

"For most teenagers, remaining vigilant about oral hygiene should help them get through the teen years with their oral health intact," said Dr. Navarro. "As always, it remains important to brush at least twice daily, floss once each day and visit a dentist regularly for checkups." 

 

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Bacteria to Blame for Bad Breath 

Bad breath is big business, driving millions in annual breath-freshener sales as well as serious scientific study of products with therapeutic potential, such as tongue scrapers and mouth rinses. 

But bad breath usually begins with a basic metabolic process - the breakdown of food - and can often be managed with good oral hygiene practices, including daily brushing and flossing. 

"When the body breaks down leftover food that collects at the gums or back of the mouth, it releases volatile sulfur compounds and the characteristic bad breath odor," said Scott Navarro, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "Flossing will help to remove buildup below the gums and between teeth, and brushing all oral surfaces - including tongue, cheeks and hard palate - removes matter before the metabolic process begins."

Sometimes brushing the tongue does not sufficiently cut through a coating of bacteria and light scraping is called for. Tongue scrapers are readily available on the market, but an ordinary spoon can be used instead. Drinking water also helps to keep the mouth cleared of food and bacteria. 

If basic oral hygiene doesn't mitigate the odor, then bad breath might be a symptom of something else. In some cases, halitosis is a symptom of more serious oral health issues such as periodontal disease or dry mouth. Bad breath can also result from medical conditions, including liver or kidney problems, as well as diabetes and other chronic conditions. Postnasal drip is an even more common cause of halitosis, and snoring or mouth breathing can also dry out the mouth. Bacteria are better able to flourish when they're not being washed away by saliva, as is the case in "morning breath", which is caused by a natural decline in saliva production during sleep. 

"Everyone has bad breath occasionally, but chronic cases should be discussed with a dentist," Dr. Navarro said. "A dentist can confirm whether the source of a problem is in the mouth and help patients develop plans for combating bad breath. If bad breath signifies a systemic problem or more serious oral health issue, dentists can suggest further diagnosis and treatment or refer patients to medical specialists." 

 

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Delta Dental of Oklahoma's Dentist Networks: 
Strong Participation and Cost Controls Mean Greater Savings & Access 

Did you know that Delta Dental has two of the nation's largest dentist networks? 

Our Delta Dental Premier Network is the original, the oldest, and the largest managed fee-for-service dentist network in the nation. Locally, more than 85% of practicing Oklahoma dentists participate in our Delta Dental Premier network.

Our Delta Dental PPO Network is Delta Dental's preferred provider organization (PPO) program. Nearly 40% of Oklahoma's dentists participate with more than 86,000 PPO providers participating nationwide. 

When you are enrolled in Delta Dental's Premier or PPO networks (or both), you have nationwide access to our networks of more than 160,000 participating dentists. In other words, your benefits travel with you. 

Beyond great access, as a Delta Dental of Oklahoma subscriber, you are also protected against unnecessary and non-billable charges. We have a professional review process that assures the correct diagnosis is made and the correct treatment is administered. This, combined with claims review and strict cost control measures saved our clients more than $45 million last year alone. 

Unparalleled access to care and cost controls that bring real savings to our members - just another part of the Delta Difference. 

 

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Baby's First Tooth Means Time for the Dentist 
National Children's Dental Health Month is Good Reminder to Schedule a Visit 

When baby's chubby, toothless grin turns pouty from the pain of new teeth, parents begin wondering about that first trip to the dentist. 

Many parents put off making the appointment, believing that it's not really necessary until later or hesitating because they don't think young children will tolerate time in the dentist's chair. So when is the right time to go? 

"As a general guide, we recommend bringing a child in for his or her first dental checkup after the eruption of the first tooth but no later than the child's first birthday," said Scott Navarro, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "Scheduling the first appointment at a young age is a great way to catch oral health problems early, and it also helps the child get acquainted with the dentist and dental office." 

Whether conducted by general or pediatric dentists, checkups for young children are usually quick and easy. Most appointments last between 15 and 30 minutes and include gentle, comprehensive examinations of the teeth, gums, jaws, bite and oral tissues. During the exam, the dentist or hygienist will discuss home-care methods, evaluate habits such as thumbsucking and identify your child's fluoride needs. Depending on your child's age and tolerance level, the appointment might also include cleaning and polishing the teeth, applying a topical fluoride and x-rays. 

Dr. Navarro added that another important reason to get children in for early dental visits is to watch for baby bottle tooth decay. A leading cause of cavities in young children, this type of decay occurs after frequent, long-term exposure to sugary liquids. Children who are given a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice at naptime or bedtime are generally at the highest risk for baby bottle tooth decay. 

For parents of children who are fidgety, shy around strangers or generally unpredictable, Dr. Navarro offered reassurance that dentists usually do everything they can to make the first visit a good one. 

"Many dentists will allow children this young to sit on parents' laps during exams, and they'll often offer rewards such as stickers and toothbrushes afterwards," said Dr. Navarro. "We want children to grow up feeling good about the dentist and their oral health." 

 

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Choosing A Dentist: Beyond Word-of-Mouth 
Systematic Strategies, Dental Benefit Programs Expand Selection Options 

When people start the process of choosing a dentist, they traditionally ask friends, neighbors and coworkers for recommendations. 

But today there are strategies and information sources that help ensure the process, and the dentist selected, are more likely to meet the overall oral health needs of consumers. 

"While a recommendation from a friend or neighbor can be quite valuable in choosing a dentist, it shouldn't be the only source of information. With a little more effort, people can ensure the oral health care provider they choose is the best choice for their oral health, lifestyle and finances," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

The first step in choosing a dentist involves assessing your situation. 

Are you looking for a dentist who can treat you as well as every member of your family? This will probably lead you to look for a dentist with a general or family practice. Do you or your loved one have any special needs, such as a disability or strong fear of the dentist? You will want to note whether the dentists you are considering have the facilities, expertise and interest in treating patients with your special needs. How important is convenience and lifestyle in your decision? For many people, it's important that dental appointments can be scheduled around work and personal schedules. Payment options and a dentist's participation in a dental benefits network are also key considerations. 

People with dental benefits through their employers have a head start in finding a dentist, especially if they're covered by a dental carrier with a network of dentists. Dental carriers provide directories, available in booklets or online, arranged by location and fields of dental specialties to provide consumers with easy access to information. 

For more information, you can also check with local and state dental societies, often listed in telephone directories under "Dentists" or "Associations," to learn more about a specific dentist. 

Many university dental schools or dental hygiene schools have outreach programs for people who may have problems gaining access to dental care, such as the uninsured or underinsured. Information on dental health care programs and providers can be obtained at www.healthfinder.gov, a service of the National Health Information Center, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 

"People should not let lack of a familiar dentist keep them from getting regular care. There are many ways to match your needs and circumstances with the good, qualified dentists in your community," Dr. Anderson said. 

 

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Did you know? Dieters could be damaging dental health 

Crash dieters, fad dieters and those who fast are all at risk for dietary deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, which can lead to erosion of the tooth structure.

  • Even healthy-seeming vegetarian diets may lack vitamin D, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, calcium and some proteins.
  • Many dieters rely on diet pills to curb their appetite, but these medications can also decrease salivary flow, leading to tooth damage.
  • Saliva is key in preventing tooth decay as it neutralizes the acids in plaque and washes the teeth. Also, saliva may help with the re-mineralization of tooth enamel.
  • Fad diets that are high in fruit intake can also damage teeth. Fruits often have a high content of natural sugars, which can decay and erode tooth enamel.
  • When simple dieting crosses over to become an eating disorder, dental health is especially at risk.

Be sure to balance your diet with healthy foods for a healthy smile! 

 

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Oral Health and Learning 
When Children's Oral Health Suffers, So Does Their Ability to Learn 

Did you know:

  • An estimated 51 million school hours per year are lost because of dental-related illness.
  • Students ages 5 to 17 years miss nearly 1,600,000 school days due to acute dental problems --- an average of 3.1 days per 100 students.
  • Children from families with low incomes had nearly 12 times as many restricted-activity days (e.g., days of missed school) because of dental problems as did children from families with higher incomes.
  • Early tooth loss caused by dental decay can result in failure to thrive, impaired speech development, absence from and inability to concentrate in school, and reduced self-esteem.
  • Students with preventable or untreated health and development problems may have trouble concentrating and learning, have frequent absences from school, or develop permanent disabilities that affect their ability to learn and grow.
  • Children who take a test while they have a toothache are unlikely to score as well as children who are undistracted by pain.

Poor oral health has been related to decreased school performance, poor social relationships, and less success later in life. Delta Dental of Oklahoma is working diligently in our communities to stop this trend. 

 

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Professional Fluoride Treatments May Not Be Necessary for Children 

The long-held belief that all children benefit from having professionally applied fluoride treatment on their teeth may no longer hold true, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Public Heath Dentistry (JPHD). 

The study, the largest of its kind, examined claims from Delta Dental for 15,190 children. Its purpose was to look at the effectiveness of professionally applied fluoride in reducing the use of fillings in children. The study found no association between the frequency of the use of professionally applied fluoride and the use of fillings for the treatment for cavities. Further, despite recommendations that professionally applied topical fluorides are only necessary for children with a moderate to high number of cavities, approximately two-thirds of the children in the study received fluoride at every recall visit, nearly two times per year. 

Authors of the study conclude that fluoride treatments may no longer be necessary or cost effective. Fluoridated public water systems, fluoride-enhanced toothpaste, and canned food and beverages prepared in fluoridated water appear to provide ample fluoride for many children. However, children that are at a higher risk for developing cavities should continue to be considered for fluoride treatments. 

 

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Dental Health Not a Top Priority Among Men 

Whether they're afraid, embarrassed or just can't find the time, men are far less likely than women to take care of their oral health, according to a study by Men's Health magazine and CNN. 

The study found that:

  • Men make 150 million fewer trips to the dentist than women each year.
  • About one-third of American men have not had a dental checkup in the past year.
  • Thirty four percent of men aged 30 to 54 had periodontal disease, compared with 23 percent of women.
  • Fifty six percent of men aged 55 to 90 had periodontal disease, compared with 44 percent of women.

So just what are the benefits of good oral health care? In addition to combating cavities and gum disease, regular dental visits can also:

  • Help improve bad breath, which often is caused by poor oral hygiene.
  • Detect early stages of oral cancer. (Men are twice as likely as women to develop the disease, often from smoking or chewing tobacco).
  • Whiten and brighten teeth - and a good smile can bolster one's professional and self-image.

Delta Dental of Oklahoma benefit programs emphasize preventive dental care. We encourage regular dental visits to assure a healthy smile. 

 

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Something to Chew On...

  • Every $1 spent on dental prevention saves $4 in treatment.
  • Preventive care, early detection and treatment saves the U.S. $4 billion every year
  • 20, 500,000 workdays/year are lost to oral health problems.
  • At least 120 physical and mental illnesses can be detected and treated by an examination of the mouth, throat, and neck.
  • Between 1979 and 1990, regular checkups increased by 70% while more expensive treatment procedures decreased 27%.
  • In the past 30 years, dental care as a percentage of total health care has declined from 6.5% to 4.6%.
  • Today, 65 year-old Americans can expect to retain three times as many of their original 32 teeth as they would have kept in 1960.

 

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Important Oral Health Facts

  • Adults miss more than 164 million hours of work each year due to dental concerns.
  • 150 million Americans have no dental coverage and 108 million Americans have no private dental insurance, while 43 million have no health insurance.
  • Some form of periodontal disease affects 75% of the U.S. population.
  • More than 90% of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations.
  • After age 35, some form of gum disease affects three out of four adults.
  • Someone is diagnosed with oral cancer every hour in the U.S.
  • Only 15% of elderly have any type of dental coverage.
  • Preventative dental care is highly cost effective: every dollar spent on preventative saves four dollars in treatment costs.
  • If all Americans had dental benefits, an estimated $8 billion would be saved each year.

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Important Health Tip: Whitening May Cause Short-Term Tooth Sensitivity 

A word of caution to those who want to brighten their smile by whitening their teeth. 

A study in the Journal of the American Dental Association reveals one in two people experience temporary tooth sensitivity as a result of home whitening treatment. Patients with receding gums appear most likely to experience such tooth sensitivity. 

The American Dental Association (ADA) advises patients to consult with their dentists to determine the most appropriate whitening treatment. This is especially important for patients with many fillings, crowns and extremely dark stains. 

 

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Important Health Tip: Early Detection Saving Lives 

Your oral health plays an important role in your overall health, making your dentist and hygienists valuable members of your personal health care team. More than 120 diseases can cause specific signs and symptoms in and around the mouth and jaw, placing dental professionals in a unique position to see symptoms that could possible indicate critical health issues; cancer is one of the most serious of these conditions. 

Each year, oral cancer affects more than 30,000 Americans and claims over 8,000 lives- this equates to one death every hour. Despite advances in oral cancer treatment, only 57 percent of all persons diagnosed survive more than five years. This is due in part to the fact that most oral cancer victims are diagnosed in advanced stages. 

As with any disease, early detection of oral cancer is extremely important. If discovered in very early stages, there exists a real possibility of curing or even preventing the affliction, for survival rate increases by a dramatic 81 percent in such cases. 

See your dentist immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Any sore that bleeds easily and/or hasn't healed after two weeks
  • Swelling, lump, rough spot, crusty area or small open sore anywhere in or around the mouth or neck
  • White or red spots or patches in the mouth or on the lips
  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together

Delta Dental of Oklahoma wants you to remember, early detection is the key to fighting oral cancer. Taking care of your teeth may have never been so important. 

 

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Important Health Tip: Weakness for Sweetness? Avoid 'Sneaky Sugars' 

We all know we need to limit our sugar intake to prevent cavities. What many may not know is that many sugars are hidden in the foods we eat. While chocolate bars and hard candies are obvious sources of sugar, pizza, crackers, and croissants can contribute just as much to cavities. Because they are high in carbohydrates, saliva breaks them down in to sugar. 

Dr Max Anderson, an oral health advisor for Delta Dental, explains that cavity-causing organisms within plaque feed on these sugars and turn them into acid. "Bacteria in the human mouth cling to the surface of teeth, and when these bacteria are not removed, it forms plaque," he says. "When plaque turns sugar into acid, it attacks the tooth enamel and causes decay." 

Don't contribute to cavity development by unknowingly ingesting sugar in large quantities. 

Follow these tips to help protect your teeth:

  • Read ingredients labels closely: Many manufacturers add sugar to their foods to improve taste, so sugar may lurk in the least expected foods and drinks. For example, did you know that a single 12-ounce can of soda may contain up to nine teaspoons of sugar? Regulate your intake of products containing sugar by referring to the list of ingredients and in doing so you will monitor your overall sugar intake.
  • Limit consumption of refined or processed foods: Foods such as white rice, pasta, and fruit drinks are often an unhealthy combination of low-nutrition and high carbohydrate (sugar) content.
  • Choose healthy alternatives: Cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt, and nuts are favorable alternatives to unhealthy snacks. Remember that crunchy, fresh produce like carrots and apples can actually help clean plaque off teeth!

Delta Dental of Oklahoma encourages you to follow these simple guidelines to address your "weakness for sweetness" and avoid those unhealthy sugars. 

 

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Health Tip: Win the Oral Hygiene Battle 

Though the population as a whole has experienced an increase in dental hygiene, there remains quite a bit of room for improvement. The following are a few ways in which to jump start your personal race towards oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay and cavity causing bacteria still lingers between teeth where toothbrush bristles can't reach. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Eat a balanced diet and avoid foods with excessive amounts of sugar.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

Remember that having a regular and thorough hygiene routine is the best way to avoid poor oral health and accompanying complications and most important, is the foundation of a healthy smile. 

 

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Health Tip: The True Cost of a Cavity 
When a little hole becomes a $2000 money pit 

Sure cavities can be a bit painful and an inconvenience, but new data shows that, over a person's lifetime, a single cavity has serious economic consequences as well. 

That's the conclusion of a new report from Delta Dental's Data and Analysis Center (DAC), the nation's largest claims-based dental health data warehouse, which finds that the average cost to maintain a restored cavity in the molar of a 10-year old reaches $2,187 by the time he or she is 79. If a patient has several cavities, the cost explodes accordingly.

"The out-of-pocket costs of preventive care are quickly outpaced by the lifetime cost of maintaining teeth that have been treated for decay," says John Gladden, president and CEO of DDOK. "Many dental benefits programs do not charge co-payments for preventive checkups, but even if they do, this data clearly shows how an investment in prevention compares with the ongoing cost of restoration." 

Delta Dental of Oklahoma reminds you that cavities are almost entirely preventable. We hope this illustration provides another incentive for you to maintain your oral health. 

 

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Health Tip: The Whole Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth 

There are a few common notions about dental care that are actually myths. For good oral health, check out the following facts. 

Q. Should I throw out my toothbrush after I've recovered from a cold or bacterial infection?
A. Not necessary, says the ADA. The detergents found in almost all toothpastes kill the microorganisms that may linger on the toothbrush between brushings. 

Q. Is diet soda a safer choice for teeth than regular soda?
A. Soft drinks in general are a major-and increasing-contributor to tooth decay. 

Q. Can the anti-plaque mouthwashes really help prevent gum disease and tooth decay?
A. While certain mouthwashes can prevent plaque buildup, there are no substitutes for brushing after meals and daily flossing, says the ADA. 

Q. My mouth often hurts when I eat and I hear an odd clicking sound when I move my jaw. What could be causing these problems?
A. You may have temporomanibular disorder (TMD), a malady of the jaw. This condition results when the jaw twists when opening or closing; it creates a popping sound, as well as a facial and neck pain, headaches. 

 

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Americans Prove Up to Oral Health Challenge
Dental Care Habits Gaining Ground On Tooth Decay 

Oh say can you see, by that smile's pearly whites. 

With apologies to our national anthem, Americans are proving up to the challenge of improving their oral health, according to research on the nation's health. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) recently reported that tooth decay has decreased in people from six to beyond 60, as efforts to prevent cavities and dental diseases are paying off.

"The research shows that good things come to those who take care of their teeth, and more and more Americans are doing that," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

The CDC and NIH report uses oral health information collected through clinical examinations and personal interviews. The results were then compared to similar research concluded in 1994. 

Among the key findings are that tooth decay decreased 15% in the permanent teeth of children and adolescents aged six to 19 years, and 4% in adults aged 20 and older. Individuals are also keeping more of their teeth; a 20% reduction was seen in the percentage of adults who had lost all of their teeth. 

Supporting other research that shows Americans increasingly value their oral health, the report details drops in untreated tooth decay of 10% in the group aged six to 19 years, and 18% by people aged 20 and older. 

While the news is generally good, the research still suggests that more effort is needed to improve the oral health of many Americans. Fifty percent of children aged 12-15 years had tooth decay, as did two-thirds or 68% of adolescents aged 16-19 years. 

The report notes the decline in tooth decay continues a trend reported in previous national surveys. The decline applies to both the crowns and roots of teeth, across sex, race/ethnicity, poverty status, education level, and smoking status. The report concludes the decline has benefited children, adolescents and adults. 

How can the nation make further gains? The report recommends that programs to prevent tooth decay should extend to all age groups and socio-demographic categories. Also, that as our population ages and more adults keep their natural teeth, preventive measures are needed to protect teeth at the individual, clinical, and community level. 

"As well as we've done as a nation and at community and personal levels, we have to continue working to make dental care more accessible and important to Americans," Dr. Anderson said. 

 

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Back to School: Painful Teeth Can Have Effect in the Classroom
Children's ability to learn can be compromised by dental illness 

"Do your teeth hurt?" It's not a question one expects to hear from a teacher trying to troubleshoot poor academic performance, but perhaps it ought to be. 

Each year more than 50 million school hours are lost by students whose dental-related illnesses cause them to stay home or seek professional care.

In cases where pain is not intense enough to keep children out of school, it might still distract them in the classroom. 

"Poor oral health is a very real distraction and can cause some children to have a difficult time participating or concentrating in the classroom," said Ed Schooley, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

With a new school year approaching, Dr. Schooley urges parents and other caregivers to help children maintain good oral health. Along with promoting the basics of dental hygiene such as brushing after every meal and flossing daily, he also suggests parents think about scheduling that next regular dental checkup for their kids. 

In between visits to the dentist, caregivers should also monitor children's oral health or changes in behavior that might signify pain or discomfort. 

"Parents should regularly check children's mouths for any signs of concern," Dr. Schooley said. "They should look to see whether gums are bleeding, swollen or bright red. Persistent bad breath or gums that have receded from the teeth could also be signs of oral infection." Such signs warrant a discussion or appointment with a dentist. 

Packing healthy lunches and limiting the consumption of sugary beverages can also help parents prevent problems associated with childhood tooth decay. 

"Untreated dental diseases can cause chewing problems, which in turn could restrict a child's ability to get all the necessary nutrients from food," Dr. Schooley said. "Left untreated, cavities, gum disease or other oral infections might not only distract students in class, but could eventually impair speech development and even hinder social development," he said. 

 

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Back to School: (Spanish Version) 
Patologi?Las Dentales Pueden Afectar Aprendizaje de los Ninos 

"?Te duele algu?Ln diente?" No es el tipo de pregunta que uno espera de un maestro que busca la causa de las malas notas, pero quiza?Ls deberi?La esperarse esa pregunta. 

Todos los anos los estudiantes pierden ma?Ls de 50 millones de horas escolares por enfermedades relacionadas con la salud dental, ya sea porque estaban en casa enfermos o tuvieron que ir a tratarse con un profesional me?Ldico. En los casos en que el dolor no es tan intenso como para impedir la asistencia escolar, aun asi?L no deja que el estudiante se concentre como es debido en la escuela. 

"La falta de salud bucodental constituye una verdadera molestia y puede hacer que a los estudiantes les resulte difi?Lcil participar o concentrarse en la escuela," explico?L el Dr. Ed Schooley, odonto?Llogo y asesor nacional de salud bucodental de la Delta Dental Plans Association. 

Con el nuevo ano escolar ya pro?Lximo, el Dr. Schooley insta a los padres y otros encargados de menores a ayudar a los chicos a mantener una buena salud bucodental. Adema?Ls de hacer que e?Lstos no se despreocupen de lo ba?Lsico de la higiene dental, como lavarse los dientes despue?Ls de cada comida y pasarse el hilo dental todos los di?Las, los padres deben tener presente la fecha del pro?Lximo chequeo dental de sus hijos, sugiere el doctor. 

Entre una y otra consulta con el dentista, los padres tambie?Ln deben estar atentos a la salud bucodental de sus hijos o a cambios en el comportamiento de e?Lstos que podri?La ser ocasionados por algu?Ln dolor o malestar. "Los padres deben inspeccionar perio?Ldicamente la boca de sus hijos para detectar algu?Ln indicio de problema," aconsejo?L el Dr. Schooley. "Deben ver si las enci?Las de sus hijos sangran, esta?Ln inflamadas o muestran un rojo vivo en la coloracio?Ln. Tambie?Ln puede haber infeccio?Ln si el mal aliento es constante o las enci?Las se les han recogido y muestran ma?Ls los dientes." Tales indicios merecen ser consultados o la atencio?Ln experta de un dentista. 

Prepararles un almuerzo saludable para la escuela y limitar el consumo de bebidas azucaradas tambie?Ln puede ayudar a los padres a evitar problemas relacionados con las caries infantiles. 

"Si no se atienden, las enfermedades dentales pueden causar problemas en la masticacio?Ln, lo que a su vez interfiere en la ingestio?Ln de todos los nutrientes necesarios de la comida," anadio?L el Dr. Schooley. "Una vez ma?Ls, si no se atienden las caries, las enfermedades de la enci?Las u otras infecciones bucales, no so?Llo son e?Lstas obsta?Lculos en el aprendizaje escolar, sino que con el tiempo resultan un impedimento en el desarrollo del habla y hasta en el desenvolvimiento social." 

 

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Put the Brakes On Bad Oral Health
Five Habits of a Hectic Lifestyle You Should Lose 

Feeling the need for speed? Don't take it out on your teeth. 

In a society where people play an ongoing game of beat the clock, there are shortcuts taken with our oral health that can catch up with us. 

Oral health experts have identified five habits in particular we should leave behind for the sake of our teeth. 

"These personal habits can damage teeth lead to costly dental work," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

Here are the five bad habits dentists would like us to lose. 

Smoking/Smokeless tobacco. No surprise here - besides leading to off-color teeth and dull smiles, using tobacco products can lead to oral cancer, one of the deadliest forms of the disease. Meanwhile, there is the risk of damage to gums which can progress to periodontal disease and, in some cases, tooth loss. 

Using teeth as tools. Biting anything except food with our teeth is asking for trouble. Teeth aren't meant to pry off bottle caps, rip open bags of chips or to bite finger nails. Use the right tools for the job: bottle openers, kitchen scissors and nail clippers. 

Clenching and grinding. Does the rat race and stress have you clenching and grinding your teeth? Whether you do it while awake or in your sleep, putting this kind of wear and tear on your teeth can lead to more serious oral health problems. Dentists can help by recommending simple home therapies or prescribing a custom-formed mouth guard you can wear at night. 

Mind what you eat and drink. Certain things we eat and drink may make us feel good and supply short-term energy, but over time their impact on our oral health can be a real drag. The excessive sugar in cold drinks and candies are well-known culprits. Not so notorious are the medications that are helpful in treating specific ailments, but which might create the right conditions for oral health problems. Dentists should be told what prescriptions you're taking so they can suggest solutions that will counter the adverse effects of medications. 

Skipping the basics. Too busy to brush and floss your teeth? Don't have the time to see the dentist? The small amount of time we invest in the basics pays big dividends physically, socially and financially with better teeth, fresher breath, brighter smiles and lower dental bills. 

"We really need to slow down sometimes and think about how what we're doing in our daily lives impacts the health of our teeth. That's a great first step to changing habits, preventing problems and improving our oral health," Dr. Anderson said. 

 

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Part Dentist, Part Detective
Importance of Dental Visits Increases with Understanding of Greater Connections

Heading to the dentist's office? Your visit may double as a private health investigation. 

As research continues to uncover links between the health of our mouths and the rest of our bodies, making regular visits to the dental office is becoming all the more important. 

"Routine dental visits can uncover a number of things about our health, and put us on the path to preventing and managing bigger health issues for ourselves and our families," said Scott Navarro, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

Here are some diseases and the clues they leave1 in our mouths for oral health professionals to discover. 

Upper respiratory disorders. Viral infections in the lungs of sufferers can produce lesions or sores inside their mouths. 

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia. The persistent, induced vomiting of people who suffer from bulimia can cause a chemical erosion of their tooth enamel and make their teeth unpleasantly sensitive. Their fillings can become raised above the eroded surface of their teeth, where the fillings can easily chip during chewing. The starvation that often accompanies anorexia enlarges salivary glands located below and in front of ears, so the faces of sufferers can appear full and round. 

Acid Reflux and Hiatal Hernia. Sufferers who repeatedly burp bile into their mouths can experience eroded tooth enamel, sensitive teeth and a bitter taste in their mouths. 

Diabetes. Clues left in the mouths of diabetics include inflammation, infections, dry mouth, burning tongue, persistent gingivitis, and multiple lesions. Even patients who know they have diabetes may require special care: they may be taking medications that inhibit their ability to produce saliva, an important ally in the fight against cavities and gum disease. 

Kidney failure. Dentists can also find evidence of kidney failure. Retarded tooth development in children, dry mouth, odor, metallic taste, ulcers on the tongues and gums in adults may lead the dentist to suggest a visit to a medical doctor to check for properly functioning kidneys. 

Anemia. Some of the earliest signs of anemia, where our bodies don't produce enough oxygen-carrying red blood cells, are oral. These signs include burning, fiery red tongue, inflamed mucous membranes and difficulty swallowing. 

Osteoporosis. As part of standard first visits, dentists and their staff take x-rays of the mouth area to spot oral health problems, typically no more serious than cavities. However, in some cases these x-rays show jawbones that have eroded and become thinner, a symptom of osteoporosis. 

So what does this potential for finding other conditions mean for people heading to the dentist? For dentists, the emphasis will remain protecting and promoting oral health. But as part of that commitment, patients will find their initial and follow-up exams to cover health topics outside their mouths. Dental professionals will inquire about their medical history, discuss medications the patients are taking, and may measure vital signs. All of this is a part of diagnosing the oral health of patients and developing treatment plans. 

"There are many factors that contribute to the state of our oral health and our bodies. Patients can expect the contemporary dental professional to take a systematic approach to protecting and promoting their oral health. That's what works best," Dr. Navarro said. 

 

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The Other Half of Cleaning Teeth
Flossing Finishes The Job Brushing Can't Do Alone 

Do you just wash half your face, or shampoo only one side of your head? People who brush their teeth and call the job complete are essentially doing just that. 

Although brushing cleans the front, back and biting surfaces of teeth, the bristles of a toothbrush don't reach between teeth. This can leave food particles and bacteria between them, creating a sticky mixture called plaque. Plaque is the primary cause of tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. 

Dental floss is one of the tools available for the other half of the job. Flossing cleans the sides of our teeth and can help prevent plaque from forming. Most dentists recommend cleaning between the teeth once a day. 

"Brushing and flossing are really two halves of the same task. You're really not finishing the job if you don"t floss," said Scott Navarro, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. Unfortunately, research shows many people are not finishing the job of cleaning their teeth. The American Dental Hygienists Association reports that 55 percent of the people who floss do it every day - meaning that even among the faithful flossers, 45 percent don't floss every day. Women tend to floss more than men and people over age 50 floss more than children and young adults. 

What can we do to train ourselves to finish the job brushing can't? 

A start is to regard flossing as the first step, not last, in cleaning our teeth. Flossing helps dislodge material and plaque that can then be more readily brushed away. 

Another strategy is to look at when we floss and when we don't, and try to introduce flossing into more parts of our daily routines. The American Dental Hygienists Association notes that 14 percent of the people who floss do so before breakfast; 26 percent between breakfast and lunch; 19 percent between lunch and dinner; and 32 percent after dinner only. Sixty-seven percent of regular flossers say they do it before going to bed. 

To increase the likelihood of flossing, choose dental floss that is comfortable and suited to your teeth or personal tastes. Today, floss is offered in varieties to meet different needs, whether you prefer thin or thick floss, dental tape; flavored or unflavored floss, or waxed or unwaxed floss. Waxed floss may be easier for users to slide through tight and restored (rebuilt) teeth. Unwaxed floss tends to spread out its fibers during use, offering greater tooth contact. 

Floss holders are another option to consider. While these may limit flexibility in moving the floss between and around teeth, they offer a tradeoff for some in convenience and comfort. Floss holders are also ideal for people who have difficulty manipulating floss, and for caregivers who floss the teeth of others.

"However and whenever you do it, the important thing is to make flossing an equal part of cleaning your teeth. You're really not cleaning your teeth properly if without it," Dr. Navarro said. 

 

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To Teeth, Sugar in Halloween Candy Really Not That Scary
Everyday nutrition, bad oral health habits more likely to cause damage 

You think Halloween candy is scary when it comes to keeping teeth healthy? After learning how much sugar there is in some common food items, you might want to think about what your children are eating the rest of the year. 

Oral health experts long ago identified sugar as the monster behind tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the human mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing organisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay. 

But many common foods contain amounts of sugar at or above the amount in Halloween candy. These culprits can include breakfast items, snacks and drinks. 

"To help keep teeth healthy, we need to be aware of what we eat and take care of them all year long, and not just worry about candy and Halloween," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

Popular Halloween treats include bite-sized chocolate-peanut-caramel bars, individually wrapped peanut butter cups and single servings of gummy bears. According to the nutrition facts printed on their packaging, the amount of sugar in these confections is 8.5 grams, 10 grams and 24 grams respectively. 

When compared with the sugar content of common meals and snacks, these sugar levels might not be such a big departure from what your children are eating on an occasional or regular basis. 

According to nutritional information published by their manufacturers, a breakfast of two frozen waffles topped with syrup, and a glass of orange juice serves up approximately 65 grams of sugar. A packet of two frosted strawberry toaster pastries has 34 grams of sugar, while a fruit punch flavored juice box contains 24 grams of sugar. Suddenly Halloween candy doesn't look so scary. Besides, Halloween only occurs once a year. The sugars in everyday foods get a chance to feed the cavity-causing bacteria far more often. 

Regardless of the source of sugar, the consistency of foods can also play a role in tooth decay. Sticky caramels and lollipops that children and adults have in their mouths for a long time expose teeth to sugars for longer than quickly eaten candy bars or breakfast items. 

"Brushing teeth after meals or at least twice a day is far more important to preventing tooth decay than avoiding Halloween candy or popular food items. Along with flossing at least once a day and visiting the dentist regularly, good oral hygiene is the best choice for protecting teeth and gums," Dr. Anderson said. 

 

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Resources for dental care available to ALL Oklahomans 

As a not-for-profit dental carrier, Delta Dental of Oklahoma is in the unique position to be able to devote annual funding for the philanthropic arm of the company - the DDOK Oral Health Foundation. Our Foundation's core mission is to make an increasingly positive impact on the quality of life of Oklahomans - placing special emphasis on access to dental care and improving the state's overall oral health. 

In addition to supporting the OU College of Dentistry's community-based initiatives, the Foundation sponsors Tulsa's Neighbor for Neighbor dental clinic, Oklahoma City's Good Shepherd dental clinic, D-DENT (Dentists for the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment), and Eastern Oklahoma Donated Dental Services. Additionally, it recently added funding for three additional free/low-cost dental clinics: Health for Friends, providing comprehensive dental care for hundreds of low-income and elderly persons throughout the Norman area, the City Rescue Mission dental clinic - supporting volunteers on the forefront of caring for the neediest individuals in Oklahoma City, and, the Bartlesville Dental Clinic at the Tri-County Technology Center. 

There's also the negative trend of increased tooth decay among Oklahoma children. To address this head on, the Foundation established a free dental education program teaching school children proper oral hygiene. The Captain Supertooth Program consists of professionally trained and costumed Super Heroes visiting K through 2nd grade classrooms all across Oklahoma. The program's fun, hands-on, and informative presentations have educated and provided toothbrushes to nearly 60,000 children statewide. 

And for adults and elderly, the Foundation's developed a "Resource for Care" telephone hot line that provides low-income families and the elderly with a comprehensive brochure listing all free and low-cost dental care clinics statewide. 

The bottom line is - dental help is available for all Oklahomans - children and adults alike. 

If you know of a family or an elderly person in need of dental treatment, but unable to pay, invite them to visit the "Community Service" section of www.DeltaDentalOK.org or call 405-607-4771 (OKC Metro) or 800-522-0188 Ext. 771 (Toll Free) to receive a complete list of all low and no-cost dental clinics across our great state. In the meantime, Captain Supertooth will stay busy teaching our Oklahoma children about the importance of good oral hygiene. 

 

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Pain in the Jaw Can Be a Real Grind
Solution Could Be as Near as Your Dentist 

If you've ever had your jaw lock up or experienced painful clicking, grinding or popping sounds from your jaw joint, you're not alone. It's estimated that more than 10 million people suffer from problems related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). 

"The temporomandibular joint sees a lot of action," said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. "It can become overworked from everyday activities like chewing, bad habits like nail biting or teeth clenching, or other factors such as genetics or arthritis. TMJ pain is often temporary, but can become more serious for some people." 

The temporomandibular joints connect the lower jaw bone to the skull. These joints allow the jaw to move and are necessary for biting, chewing, swallowing, speaking and making facial expressions. Problems with the joint may result in a limited range of motion or complete locking of the jaw. TMJ may also cause neck, shoulder and back pain, or earaches. 

Most TMJ problems are temporary and can be relived with home therapies. A doctor or dentist might recommend eating soft foods, applying heat or ice packs, stretching the jaw muscles, stress-reduction techniques or other therapies to alleviate pain. Treatment options for more chronic cases can include oral appliances such as splints or bite plates, or surgery for the most severe cases. 

"If you're dealing with jaw pain, make an appointment with your dentist right away," said Dr. Anderson. "In most cases, the solutions to lessen the discomfort are relatively simple. And if you have a more serious case, your dentist can recommend additional treatment options." 

 

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Baby Boomers Facing Oral Health Test
Generation Can Easily Challenge Common Gum Disease 

Baby boomers can't turn back the hands of time, but they can fight a disease that shows their age. 

As the first baby boomers march into their 60s this year, oral health professionals are sounding a rallying cry for that generation to increase its awareness of the dangers of periodontal or gum disease. 

"Although the oral health of the nation is improving and more people are keeping their teeth throughout their lifetimes, gum disease is still a problem. It's important for baby boomers to pay increased attention to their oral health just as they are other areas of their well-being," said Ed Schooley, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

Gum disease typically develops when plaque - the naturally occurring, bacteria-harboring mucus on teeth - is allowed to build up along and under the mouth's gum line until it hardens into tartar. Symptoms of gum disease include bad breath; red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums; painful chewing; and sensitive teeth. At advanced stages, gum disease can lead to a loosening then loss of teeth. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, people usually don't show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. While it's not merely age that encourages the onset of gum disease, the accumulated effects of lifestyle and genetic factors such as smoking, hormonal changes, diabetes, stress, medications and illnesses can all have negative impacts on the health of gums. An estimated 80 percent of American adults currently have some form of gum disease. 

How can this generation lower the boom on gum disease and help avoid its unpleasant effects? 

Oral health experts say the time-tested strategy of brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing every day is a great start. Visiting the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning is also critical in watching gum disease. Tweaking personal habits such as eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding the use of tobacco products also contributes to the noble cause. 

"With a mix of self-awareness, daily care at home, and regular trips to the dentist, people can help keep their teeth and gums looking and feeling healthy for a lifetime," Dr. Schooley said. 

 

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Oral Healthcare Strives To Keep Up With Aging Population
Increasing Knowledge, Innovation Bring Hope 

With age comes wisdom and, hopefully, good oral health. 

Unfortunately, there are serious hurdles to overcome in protecting the oral health of America's aging population. While research indicates that a greater number of older adults have all or most of their natural teeth than in earlier decades, interrelated health issues, economic changes and barriers to dental care now present our society with important challenges to the oral health of seniors. 

"While we know more about how to protect and improve our oral health than ever before, there are still challenges to it across our society, including for mature adults" said Max Anderson, DDS, a national oral health advisor for Delta Dental Plans Association. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) recently reported a nearly 29 percent reduction in the number of adults who had lost all of their teeth. Their research found improved oral health in all age groups, even though the time periods compared were recent history: 1999-2002 and 1988-1994.

People, governments and the oral healthcare industry have adopted disease prevention and health promotion strategies that helped create this success. Today, more people also understand their oral health can be associated with, and reflect on conditions elsewhere in their bodies. 

Most people connect regular check-ups and preventive maintenance with preventing the need for more extensive and expensive treatments later. The word is out that in many cases oral health problems typically associated with getting older - chronic pain, disability, disfigurement and inadequate nutrition - can be prevented or overcome. 

Enter economic issues to complicate the oral health of our seniors. Many people retire with no dental benefits. To cut costs, companies are cutting or eliminating benefits to retirees. Access to primary dental services is becoming an increasing challenge to the oral health of senior citizens. 

Drawing attention to the plight of Americans without dental and other health coverage is a first step. The American Dental Association and other organizations recently conducted a series of activities, "Cover the Uninsured Week," as a national call for steps to help the millions of Americans who lack adequate access to health care. 

Some seniors have found a solution through dental coverage recently introduced by AARP, a nonprofit organization for people age 50 and over with over 35 million members. Provided by the Delta Dental Insurance Company, the AARP Dental Insurance Plan offers seniors dental insurance with reduced out-of-pocket costs, the freedom to choose their dentists and claims convenience, among other benefits. 

Participating AARP members in many parts of the country can receive immediate coverage for most preventive, diagnostic and basic restorative services, root canal treatments and oral surgeries. After the first year, coverage expands to include major restorations, gum treatments and dentures. 

But challenges to improving the oral health of seniors remain. In addition to economically disadvantaged seniors, seniors from minority groups, and people residing in rural communities and nursing homes remain at risk from poor oral health and untreated dental problems. 

"Access to dental services is becoming the next great challenge to our oral health, just as a lack of knowledge once was. We have to continue to find ways to improve access and remove barriers. Doing so will go a long way to making our mature years more golden," said Dr. Anderson. 

 

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DDOK's 'Commitment to Excellence' Rooted in Ritz-Carlton™ Philosophy 

While many companies would be satisfied with a 97% customer satisfaction rating, Delta Dental of Oklahoma is constantly working to further improve its customer service approach. Associates have attended leadership programs offered through Ritz-Carton and even stayed at Ritz Carlton Hotels - experiencing first-hand the legendary client service in action. 

The knowledge and training brought back to the organization has served as the foundation of DDOK's internal processes to develop department-specific mission statements, enhance core company values and customer service basics, and develop employee promises. By applying the core principles of respect, trust, honesty, fairness, and commitment, DDOK has strengthened its employees' talents to the benefit of the individual, the company, and its constituents. 

"It's been quite and undertaking to learn and apply the Ritz-Carlton customer service philosophy to our organization, but the end result has been well worth the effort," said Deeya Foreman, Customer Service Manager for DDOK. "Our employees are empowered with the knowledge and the skills to better care for our clients. Our staff takes ownership of issues that arise and they feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment when issues are effectively resolved." 

DDOK implementation also includes managing all transferred calls and restructuring its new hire and training processes throughout the organization - all with the goal of crafting an enhanced service ethic and work attitude. 

 

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Oral Health Tips:
Does good oral health improves child's ability to learn? 

"Do your teeth hurt?" It's not a question one expects to hear from a teacher trying to troubleshoot poor academic performance, but perhaps it ought to be. Each year more than 50 million school hours are lost by students whose dental-related illnesses cause them to stay home or seek professional care.

Poor oral health is a very real distraction and can cause some children to have a difficult time participating or concentrating in the classroom. With a new school year approaching, DDOK urges parents and caregivers to help children maintain good oral health. Along with promoting the basics of dental hygiene such as brushing after every meal and flossing daily, we also suggest parents think about scheduling that next regular dental checkup for their kids. 

In between visits to the dentist, caregivers should also monitor changes in behavior that might signify pain or discomfort: 

Parents should regularly check children's mouths for any signs of concern. They should look to see whether gums are bleeding, swollen or bright red. Persistent bad breath or gums that have receded from the teeth could also be signs of oral infection. Such signs warrant a discussion or appointment with your dentist. 

Packing healthy lunches and limiting the consumption of sugary beverages can also help parents prevent problems associated with childhood tooth decay. However, left untreated, cavities, gum disease and other oral infections might not only distract students in class, but also can eventually impair speech development and even hinder social development. 

 

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DDOK Training Further Enhances Communication & Client Care 

DDOK recently conducted the Meyers-Briggs training program for its staff. The program is designed to assess and explain the various psychological types within an organization and provide a personality inventory for each participant. The end result allows employees to reflect on their personality type and begin integrating that knowledge into their everyday work lives with the goal of improving communication, efficiency and work flow within the organization. The program is based upon the Jungian model of human personality type. 

"Great communication is paramount to the success of any organization and we saw the Meyers-Briggs training as one more tool to help our employees better understand themselves, their administrative style, and further improve how they interact with others," said Martha Tumelson, Human Resources Manager for Delta Dental of Oklahoma. "The end result will provide better problem solving, team building and ultimately, better service to our constituents." 

The Kolb Learning Style Inventory was also conducted in conjunction with Meyers-Briggs - helping employees understand how they best learn and process information in business, educational, and everyday life settings. The result will mean better customer care for our valued subscribers. 
 

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