Oral health doesn’t have to be an uphill battle

With a summit reaching 4,393 feet, the view at the top of Mt. Mansfield reveals Vermont’s spectacular landscape; a good reason not to miss the Northeast Delta Dental Race to the Top of Vermont on Sunday, August 27, in Stowe.

In addition to the beautiful view, the “cherry on top” of the Northeast Delta Dental Race to the Top of Vermont is that this important annual event raises funds to support the Catamount Trail Association and the Vermont Head Start Tooth Tutor Program.

The Tooth Tutor Program improves oral health outcomes for children from low income families served by Head Start. The Catamount Trail Association works to maintain and develop public-access trails across the state of Vermont providing people with the opportunities of outdoor recreation year round. This race represents the marriage of what most people would think are two organizations providing completely different outcomes. However, we all share the same goal; improve access to overall health and wellness.

You cannot have good oral health without good overall health.  I make many presentations every year during which I remind folks of this important connection – the mouth is part of the body. Performing activities that are physically challenging, like road races and walks, are also important pieces of the wellness puzzle.

See you on August 27!

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2016 Annual Report

It’s hard to believe that we are coming to a close on the second quarter of 2017! Every year, we work hard to make our Annual Report special and different from the previous year, this is an easy task because of the many exciting initiatives we undertook in 2016 and oral health grants we distributed. It is essential that we share with you our greatest accomplishments and steadfast commitment to continue our relentless efforts of expanding access to and the quality of oral health care and education.

Partnering with Tufts Health Freedom Plan in New Hampshire, rolling out our Health through Oral Wellness® (HOW®) program, investing in continuing education, community clinics and local hospital trauma centers, and supporting employees who volunteer by giving back to our communities, are some of the highlights in 2016.

Listening to the needs of our members, providers and colleagues creates positive community involvement throughout our organization to change the future of oral health and wellness. I invite you to read our 2016 Annual Report (located on our website here) and see the exciting things we have completed; we continue to move forward with new innovations…wait until you see 2017!


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Northeast Delta Dental Unwavered; the American Health Care Act (AHCA)

We have been paying special attention to the Affordable Care Act since its inception. Northeast Delta Dental continually evaluates possible changes written into the draft of the revision, called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). We are steady and vigorous in recognizing the possibility of modification as more information becomes available, however, the implications of any change are unclear at this time.

Although stand-alone dental insurance was never subject to the ACA’s individual mandate, I felt that it was imperative for us to develop plans that offer individuals coverage to increase access to dental care, at affordable rates. Northeast Delta Dental will continue to offer dental plans to individuals both on and off the ACA exchanges, unless and until the AHCA passes, and states in our region take action in response. In a world of uncertainty, we remain strong.

With the uncertainty of the American Health Care Act’s effects, I am involved in hosting a Forum titled “Health Care Costs – What Can We Do in New Hampshire?” at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) on Wednesday May 24.  The event will address and share resources to help small businesses control costs and hold on to more of their earnings.

Speakers include New Hampshire Department of Insurance Commissioner, Roger Sevigny; New Hampshire Department of Insurance Legal Counsel, Jennifer Patterson; New Hampshire Department of Insurance Health Policy Legal Counsel, Tyler Brannen, Northeast Delta Dental President & CEO, Tom Raffio; Bedford Ambulatory Surgical Center Founder and CEO, Nick Vailas; Member Medical Chief Operating Officer, Nicole Lane; national health and wellness expert, Carol Phillips; Geneia LLC Chief Strategy Officer, Heather Lavoie; and UNH Health Law and Policy Director,  Lucy Hodder.

The event begins with coffee and networking at 8 a.m. The formal event begins at 9 a.m. through noontime.  Admission to the event is free and open to the public.  We we would be happy for you to join us.  Please RSVP to Patti Bernier at 603-223-1388 or pbernier@nedelta.com.

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Teledentistry comes to New Hampshire

It’s exciting to see new programs make a difference in oral health for youth and adolescents throughout our communities. February was Children’s Dental Health Month with successful events happening throughout the state, but it’s not stopping there. I’m happy to talk about a new program through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire and Manchester that I believe will start a new innovation in how we increase access to preventive care and reduce the risk of minor oral health problems becoming greater, more serious dental issues for children in our state.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central New Hampshire and Manchester have launched a pilot oral health program with onsite dental provider, Virtudent.  The program is the first teledentistry program in New Hampshire and will incorporate the expertise of Dr. Richard Bolduc, a well-known area dentist and member of the Delta Dental Plan of New Hampshire Board of Directors; and Dr. Shannon Farrell, who leads the Easter Seals Dental Center in Manchester.

Northeast Delta Dental is proud to support this pilot program, it is mission sensitive and we are confident that it will reduce barriers for youth and adolescents, in their journey to maintaining their personal best oral health.

I recently joined other stakeholders for a private open house to celebrate the launch of this program (a photo is below).


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Opioids and Oral Health

The growing Opioid epidemic in our country continues to make its mark on the population in our communities and I am truly concerned for individuals and families that are struggling to find treatment and recover from this addiction.

The effects of opioids on oral health can put people at a higher risk of dental caries and periodontal disease which can lead to more serious health issues, if left untreated. Our mission is to advance the oral health and overall wellness of our customers and the general public by providing innovative benefits and professional partnerships through diversified strategic business and philanthropic initiatives.

In the last quarter, Northeast Delta Dental made contributions to help organizations develop necessary prevention, treatment and recovery programs including the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance. We are proud to be a supporter of these efforts in hopes of reducing the amount of deaths related to opioid addiction, and improve prevention. Connecting with people and cultivating relationships create exciting partnerships to find encouraging resolutions. Nothing makes me happier than seeing programs come together for the sake of health and wellness. My Colleague, Michel E. Couret, DDS, joined me for a conversation on opioids and dental health on a recent segment of Northeast Delta Dental Radio. Listen here:  Opioids from a Dental View

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Oral Health Challenge at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

It always brings me great pleasure seeing our young population getting involved in their own oral health and well-being. The 2016 Oral Health Challenge, a joint effort of Northeast Delta Dental and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats produced positive results.  The Oral Health Challenge truly shows the program’s effects through connecting good oral health with our youth and the general public.

A total of 792 participants earned over 1700 tickets through the end of August 2016. Children who completed their Oral Health Challenge form showing they brushed and flossed for seven consecutive days, earned two New Hampshire Fisher Cats tickets to one of three games. Prior to each game, Fungo, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats mascot, escorted a parade of children onto the field where they received a certificate and a gift bag recognizing their consistent oral health efforts.

We are looking forward to continuing this joint partnership of Northeast Delta Dental and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats encouraging good oral hygiene through the 2017 Oral Health Challenge. The NH Fisher Cats baseball season begins April 6, and we are excited to provide you with the Oral Health Challenge game dates of July 17, August 7, and August 20.

View the Northeast Delta Dental Oral Health Challenge forms and game details on our website here.

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Employers Can Help Change Direction

The Campaign to Change Direction is a national movement that is changing the culture of mental health and the emotional wellbeing of our communities that lead to overall health. Thanks to the leadership of Former NH State Supreme Court Justice, John T. Broderick, Jr., and CEO of Riverbend Community Mental Health, Peter Evers, it’s happening in New Hampshire!

As a NH-based company, Northeast Delta Dental supports the emotional wellbeing of our employees and their loved ones by investing in resources to help them reach overall health. We incorporate the benefits of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that provides access to many services including mental health and crisis support. Employees have an open door to get help with family issues, counseling services, crisis services and more. We have found that investing in our employees and supporting them through challenges fosters an environment for a stronger and healthier community.

Through this Campaign, we can all speak the same language and connect our mission to the community by getting to know the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering—Personality Change, Agitation, Withdrawal, Hopelessness and Poor Self-Care. The old stigma associated with mental illness will change as local businesses, like Northeast Delta Dental, continue to step up to the plate and speak out about the importance of emotional well-being.  I am honored to include Northeast Delta Dental among Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the Elliot Health System, Granite Health, NH1, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Riverbend, and WMUR, in a list of founding members of Change Direction NH.

Our continued efforts to improve oral and overall health includes many facets in our communities and throughout our state. The Campaign to Change Direction is a strongly valued and important initiative that has already made meaningful changes here in New Hampshire.  Let’s not be silent.

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