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Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Category: Delta Dental news (Page 1 of 8)

Stay up to date on the latest news from Delta Dental.

Join the journey: Help us pilot a program for new network dentists

We want your feedback! In 2021 we’re launching Provider Digital Journey, a program to support dentists new to our networks and walk them through the digital resources available to them.

But to ensure the program successfully serves our dentists and their staff, we need your input.

We’re looking for 15 participants to join the pilot program. The pilot will kick off on December 7 and run through January.

As a participant, you’ll need to:

  • Review a weekly email focusing on a leg of our digital journey
  • Take an action, such as filling out a short survey or attending a half-hour virtual meeting
  • Provide feedback at the end of the program about what you liked and what could be improved

Interested? Join an informational session this Friday, November 20 to get more details about the pilot program. Or, email us at providertools@delta.org.

Delta Dental Day 2020: Implant treatment planning course

For Delta Dental Day 2020, the UCSF School of Dentistry is partnering with Delta Dental to offer an informative course on restorative and surgical implant treatment planning. The course will be held Saturday, November 7, 2020 from 9 am to 1 pm and counts for four units of coursework for the California Continuing Dental Education credit.

Designed for general dentists, dental specialists and dental teams, the course will address common planning concerns of both clinicians and patients. Among the topics discussed will be:

  • Modern treatment planning principles
  • How to plan and execute implant surgery from a restorative standpoint
  • New technologies

The course will be taught by Dr. Gaurav Setia, DDS, clinical professor at the UCSF School of Dentistry and is $100 for dentists and $75 for auxiliary personnel. For more information or to register, call 415-514-0778 or register online.

Amalgam fillings: A closer look at the recent FDA recommendations

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently advised against the use of dental amalgam in high-risk groups. What do these new recommendations mean for you and your practice? Here’s a closer look.

What is the case against dental amalgam?

Amalgam fillings contain a mixture of silver, tin, copper and mercury.

In its recommendations released Sept. 24, 2020, the FDA suggested that certain groups of people, including pregnant and nursing women, children under 6 and people with certain health conditions, may experience harmful effects of mercury exposure.

The FDA cited “uncertainties about the acceptable reference exposure levels for mercury vapor” and the potential for negative health outcomes. The FDA did not cite any new scientific evidence for this position.

What is Delta Dental’s position on dental amalgam?

Amalgam is a long-lasting, clinically effective tooth restorative material and has a proven track record of over 150 years. Based on the scientific evidence available, amalgam fillings do not pose a health risk to children or adults, except the small group of people who are allergic to the metal components of amalgam.

The mercury in fillings is safe in its bound form. When it breaks down, however, mercury can be released as vapor. Exposure to high levels of mercury vapor — higher than those in fillings — can cause damage to the kidneys and brain, according to industrial studies.

We recommend you discuss treatment options with your patients who fall into these risk groups or otherwise have concerns.

There are no changes to Delta Dental’s coverage of restorative treatments such as amalgam and composite fillings.

When should amalgam fillings be removed?

The FDA advises against removing or replacing existing amalgam fillings that are in good condition unless medically necessary. This aligns with Delta Dental’s recommendation.

Amalgam fillings that are in good condition, with no nearby decay present in the tooth, should not be removed. Removing them may result in loss of tooth structure and unnecessarily releases mercury vapor.

When removing amalgam fillings, please follow best management practices for amalgam waste handling and disposal. By law, you must use amalgam separators of at least a 95% removal efficiency, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. This rule went into effect July 14, 2017, with compliance for dental offices since July 14, 2020.

For more information about Delta Dental policies around restorative treatments, please refer to your Dentist Handbook under Provider Tools.

Good news! Teledentistry discounts and free trials have been extended

Back in August, free trials and discounts on HIPAA-compliant teledentistry tools were made available to dentists for a limited time. Fortunately, the discounts and free trial periods on teledentistry tools have been extended through December 31.

With coronavirus cases on the rise and patients getting more used to virtual appointments, it’s a great time to find teledentistry solutions that work for you, your staff and your practice.

Return to Care supplemental reimbursement program extended through 2020

To help you continue to provide care to your Delta Dental patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re extending the Return to Care supplemental reimbursement program through December 31, 2020.

As a network dentist, you’ll receive a $10 supplemental reimbursement for performing qualifying evaluation or consultation codes. The program launched June 22 and was later extended to October 20.

The latest extension to December 31 is meant to offer you additional support and help you adjust to the new conditions as you prepare for 2021. There are no other changes to the program that is currently in place.

For more details on the supplemental reimbursement program, please see the complete FAQ.

As before, to receive the reimbursement, you must participate in one of the following networks and treat an eligible patient covered by one of these Delta Dental plans:

  • DeltaCare® USA
  • Delta Dental PPO™ and DPO in Texas (see applicable Delta Dental companies below)
  • Delta Dental Premier® (see applicable Delta Dental companies below)
  • Delta Dental Federal (Legion), Medicare Advantage

Applicable Delta Dental companies include Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental Insurance Company, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental of the District of Columbia, Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc., Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. and Delta Dental of New York, Inc.

The Medi-Cal Dental, CDPHP (NY Medicaid) and HSCSN (Washington, D.C. Medicaid) networks are not eligible for this reimbursement.

How to execute a successful teledentistry visit

Delivering dental care during a pandemic is tough, due to social distancing and equipment requirements, but you can maintain safe contact with your patients through teledentistry. In fact, you can plan your interactions so they are valuable for your patients and effective in your treatment.

Here are tips for conducting a successful consultation:

1. Scheduling

Give yourself time to prepare for the online/phone visit, to review patient records and x-rays.  Set aside enough time for your session to discuss issues, conduct an exam, and explain follow-up care.

2. Documentation

Have your patient fill out forms (intake, patient consent) ahead of the visit.  Note any problems or issues the patient has reported so you can focus your assessment.

3. Technology

Make sure your videoconferencing software is set up, with a web camera, and use a headset to keep your hands free for making notes or to demonstrate procedures. You can have images loaded for viewing with the patient. Ensure that your patient has the necessary internet connection for the visit. 

4. Environment

Make sure your background is quiet, so there are no distractions during the visit. You can position a source of light in front of your camera, and inform your patient to face natural light or a light source so you can view each other clearly.

5. Examination and tools

During the visit, when you are evaluating bite and oral health, give your patient instructions on what to do to facilitate your assessment.

You can direct the patient to position a metal or plastic spoon for retraction, use a mirror (compact or handheld dental mirror) for showing back of the teeth and posterior areas, and handle a flashlight or phone light for illumination. Your patient can use a wooden chopstick for bite testing and frozen wet cotton swabs for cold testing.

With preparation and a thorough approach, you can make a teledentistry visit fit into your seamless care delivery for patients when they are unable to make an in-person visit. It can be integrated into your practice, such as for postoperative exams, to keep your office chairs open for productive in-person visits.

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