posted by Dean M. Fry, DDS
on August 9, 2016
Periodontal (gum) disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, can encompass anything from inflammation in the gums to more serious diseases that cause major damage to soft tissue and bones that support the teeth. In severe situations, teeth can be lost.
Preventing periodontal disease can be as easy as brushing your teeth, flossing, swishing with mouthwash, knowing your risk of developing the disease and seeing a periodontist.
Recognizing the importance of preventive care, Humana has initiatives in place to alert and educate its members who are at risk of developing periodontal disease. To start, Humana looks at how six specific medical conditions linked to dental health problems — heart disease, diabetes, cancer, tobacco use, stroke and pregnancy — intersect with its medical and dental members who have periodontal disease. For example, cancer and chemotherapy can lower the immune system’s ability to fight infections, such as periodontal disease.
Members in active case management with these conditions work with nurses who have been trained in oral health. These nurses, who are alerted when Humana members submit claims for procedures tied to periodontal disease or don’t maintain frequent dentist appointments, work with members to improve their oral health – and overall health – through dental visits and education.
Humana also provides members with tools to maintain their dental health. For dental plan members specifically, individuals who have not seen a dentist in 12 months receive an alert reminding them to schedule an appointment. Additionally, members can complete an assessment of their oral health via My Dental IQ.
Humana believes that great things are ahead for people when their health is ready for them, and maintaining one’s dental health represents a positive first step. Find more information about periodontal disease and your health here or view this video.
Dean M. Fry, DDS is Chief Dental Officer at Humana.