Innovations to help make dental visits easier and more affordable

It’s early Saturday morning, your child wakes up with a whopper of a toothache, but the dentist’s office is closed. What do you do?

The answer may be to arrange a virtual care visit, provided through your dental coverage, to help with guidance for making a more informed decision about when and where to access in-person treatment.

Virtual care for dental health

In the past, options for dealing with unexpected dental problems may have been limited. Sometimes, people with tooth pain ended up in the emergency room, even though oral health issues rank among the most avoidable ER visits.

These days, dental plan members may be able to start with a virtual phone or video meeting for advice from a licensed dentist on the appropriate setting for in-person care — perhaps with their dentist, another local provider with availability or even a primary care physician.

For example, many UnitedHealthcare Dental plans now include two virtual dental visits at no additional cost per plan year, including waived deductibles and copays, for eligible members enrolled in fully insured, employer-sponsored plans.1

These virtual connections may make it easier to find the right care in the right setting and, in turn, help to lower costs and improve satisfaction with treatment.

Technology for better brushing

Meanwhile, new technology in toothbrushes for kids and adults may help improve brushing and reduce the chance of that weekend toothache in the first place.

For example, the quip Smart Electric Toothbrush, which is accepted by the American Dental Association, has shown to be effective in removing plaque and reducing gingivitis, when used as directed. The toothbrush includes:

  • A two-minute timer with 30-second pulses to promote even brushing of the mouth
  • Built-in sensors to track brushing performance, such as duration, coverage and intensity
  • The ability to sync with an app for coaching tips and to earn points that can be redeemed for rewards, including gift cards

Eligible members in employer-sponsored and individual UnitedHealthcare Dental plans may have access to a discount of up to 30% on the quip Smart Electric Toothbrush and oral care product bundles, including refillable floss and mouthwash.

The discount program is designed to help members improve at-home oral hygiene habits, which may help prevent cavities, gum disease and potentially reduce the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Transparency in calculating dental costs

Technology is not only making care more convenient and effective but also helping to create upfront cost estimates — which may help inform decisions about comprehensive care and treatment.

To help support cost transparency in dental care, UnitedHealthcare has launched a tool called the Treatment Plan Calculator. It features real-time processing capabilities for price estimates that are based on actual contracted rates and a member’s plan.

Dental professionals can access the calculator at while the member is still in the exam room to discuss costs for potential treatments, including any anticipated out-of-pocket expenses  — potentially helping to avoid surprise bills that affect millions of Americans each year.

“These new initiatives continue UnitedHealthcare’s broader approach of using technology to improve access to quality, cost-effective medical and dental care,” said Colleen Van Ham, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Dental. “As more and more Americans adopt a digital-first mindset, these new resources are designed to help our members improve and maintain their dental health, which may contribute to overall well-being.”

For more information, learn more about our dental plans.

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