Skip to Main Content

Financial and Mechanical Ways to Protect Our Teeth

Financial and Mechanical Ways to Protect Our Teeth

Dr. Tuckson speaks with J. Jude Thompson, president & CEO of Delta Dental of Kentucky.
S14 E16 Length 27:07 Premiere: 2.17.19

One Insurer’s Mission to Improve Oral Health in Kentucky

Having good oral health is an essential part of maintaining overall physical health, as tooth decay and periodontal disease are often connected with major health problems such as heart disease. Kentucky has traditionally ranked low nationally in oral health measures, but progress is being made, fueled by a commitment from dentists, health officials, and insurers to both educate people about the importance of clean, healthy teeth and gums and to improve access to dental care.

In this episode of Kentucky Health, host Dr. Wayne Tuckson welcomes the president and chief executive officer of a leading nonprofit dental insurance company to discuss Kentucky’s oral health challenges, the company’s mission of expanding dental coverage throughout the state, and current product development.

J. Jude Thompson is the president and CEO of Delta Dental in Kentucky, one of 50 chapters of the nonprofit insurer headquartered in Chicago. Delta Dental is the largest insurer in the commonwealth that offers dental benefits.

As a 401 c(4) not-for-profit organization, Delta Dental has a service mission that Thompson says is the central motivating force for its 75 employees that help around 750,000 people in Kentucky. In 2018, Delta Dental contributed over $1.6 million to 58 organizations throughout the commonwealth. “It’s a different kind of company,” Thompson says.

Expanding Services and Oral Health Outreach
“Just as you would have a checkup for your body, we would suggest you go to your dentist a couple of times a year, every six months, to get your teeth checked out and cleaned,” Thompson says.

Most of Delta Dental’s insurance policies are sold to employers and offered to workers as part of their overall benefits package, but he says that around 50,000 customers in Kentucky buy individual insurance policies. This is the fastest-growing sector in the dental insurance market, Thompson explains, particularly among persons older than 65 since Medicare does not offer basic dental coverage.

Delta Dental’s plans start at basic coverage (checkups and cleanings, cavity fillings) at $17-18 monthly and extend up to plans with more benefits such as teeth whitening ending at around $48 per month. Thompson says that 90 to 91 percent of all dentists in Kentucky participate with Delta Dental.

The dental insurance market in the state operates at a smaller scale than the overall health insurance market, and with far lower costs, but it is still competitive, Thompson says. A few health insurance companies have started to offer dental plans, and there are thriving smaller dental insurance companies that serve regional markets such as western and northern Kentucky.

Thompson says that Delta Dental is also in the process of expanding its insurance offerings. It recently partnered with one of the nation’s largest vision insurance companies to create DeltaVision. This is a dental insurance-vision insurance bundle plan that is primarily offered to smaller companies (2-50 employees) that are in need of add-on insurance to their health plans. But Thompson says it will also be offered to larger companies and to individuals, and in the future may be expanded even further with a term life insurance policy.

Delta Dental works closely with dentists in Kentucky to address what Thompson views as the two biggest challenges to improving oral health in the state: lack of access and education. Among the organizations that received part of the $1.6 million donated by Delta Dental last year were Louisville’s Home of the Innocents, which operates a dental clinic, and the Red Bird Mission in eastern Kentucky, which has its own clinic to serve a population desperately in need of services.

Thompson says that Delta Dental also works with outreach programs at both the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and the University of Louisville College of Dentistry. These programs are not limited to children; they serve anyone in need.

Many Kentuckians gained access to dental benefits under the Medicaid expansion ordered by former Gov. Steve Beshear. But that population may soon be required to work or engage in community service to keep those benefits under changes to the policy from the Gov. Matt Bevin administration that are set to take effect later this year. Thompson says that the statistics he’s seen indicate that less than 10 percent of the Medicaid expansion population who gained dental benefits actually utilized them regularly, but still concedes that once the new waiver takes hold, it will have a negative effect on the folks who did access dental services through Medicaid.

An even larger problem, according to Thompson, is the lack of knowledge about proper oral hygiene in Kentucky. This leads to the state’s high rates of edentulism (toothlessness) and is also linked to other chronic health problems. “Education is the gateway to improving lot of your body’s overall health,” Thompson says. “Our dentists many times can identify diabetes and certain forms of heart illness just from what they can see inside of the mouth.”

Innovative New Product Protects Teeth and Improves Health
One of Delta Dental’s most promising current projects addresses both oral health and overall health. Thompson says the company is developing a mouth guard that he believes will become the industry standard in the future. It is called VistaMaxx, and was created by a company Delta Dental bought last June. Their mouth guard is the only one with a seal of approval from the American Dental Association.

The idea for this venture came when Thompson was transitioning into becoming Delta Dental’s full-time CEO and was reviewing their contracts with Kentucky universities and high schools. He became interested in learning about the best mouth guard for athletes and discovered that the VistaMaxx product stood out. Unlike other mouth guards made of EVA plastic, the VistaMaxx is made of a polymer that is more shock absorbent. Delta Dental has partnered with University of Louisville neurologist Dr. Tad Seifert, MD, to test prototype football helmets that include a VistaMaxx mouth guard, with the goal of reducing concussions.

The target audience for this mouth guard is far broader than just athletes, however – it potentially has a great benefit to persons who habitually grind their teeth while they sleep.

“It will be cheaper for dentists, and quicker for them, and we believe it will get people that are grinding their teeth and suffering headaches, crack their molars, there’s a lot of additional costs when we start putting crowns on – we think we’ll avoid that as well,” he says.

This mouth guard is also currently being tested as a prototype with an added health feature – a pigment that will change color if the wearer’s body temperature reaches 102 degrees. Thompson says that if this works, it will be of great assistance in helping to detect high body temperature while exercising, referencing University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair who died during a practice last year from heat stroke. The body-temperature prototype is being tested through a collaboration with the University of Arkansas.

“We want to continue to expand, and think of this almost as being a Fitbit for the mouth,” Thompson says.

Related Content:

Open Arms Children’s Health Meets Demand for Dental Services in Louisville

Oral Health Services and Outreach at Red Bird Mission

Oral Health Tips: Proper Periodontal Care Preserves Teeth for a Lifetime

Oral Health: The Hidden Life of Your Mouth

Program Details

Kentucky Health

About Kentucky Health

Learn how to improve your health through education and increased awareness. Dr. Wayne Tuckson, a colorectal surgeon in Louisville, hosts.

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates

Upcoming

GERD: A Burning in the Chest and a Whole Lot More

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD, is a painful but common condition caused by irritation in the lining of the esophagus. Dr. Tuckson talks with Jeff Allen, M.D., director of laparoscopic surgery at Norton Surgical Specialists, about surgical options for GERD.

  • Friday October 22, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday October 22, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday October 22, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 22, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 22, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 22, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday October 23, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Lung Cancer: Improving Treatment and Decreasing the Mortality

Though lung cancer remains the leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, there is cause for optimism. Dr. Tuckson talks to Jason Chesney, M.D., director of the UofL Health-Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, about new developments in the treatment of lung cancer.

  • Sunday October 24, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Carotid Artery Disease: A Precursor to a Stroke

Carotid artery disease can cut off the flow of blood to the brain, potentially causing a stroke. Dr. Tuckson discusses life-saving surgical solutions for carotid artery disease with Nick Abedi, M.D., a vascular surgeon with Fayette Surgical Associates.

  • Sunday October 24, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 24, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday October 25, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday October 25, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday October 29, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday October 29, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday October 29, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 29, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 29, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 29, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday October 30, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Environmental Pollution: Trees and Bushes as the Fix

Ted Smith, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil at the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, talks about how planting trees can reduce air pollution, decrease certain health risks and encourage participation in outdoor activities.

  • Sunday October 31, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 31, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 1, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 1, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 5, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 5, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 5, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 5, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday November 5, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 5, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 6, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Glaucoma and Cataracts: What's Clear and Are They Inevitable?

Dr. Tuckson talks with ophthalmologist Frank Burns, MD, of Middletown Eye Care, about glaucoma and cataracts.

  • Sunday November 7, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 7, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 8, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 8, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 12, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 12, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 12, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 12, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday November 12, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 12, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 13, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Medical Information: Discerning the Wheat from the Chaff

  • Sunday November 14, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 14, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 15, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 15, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 19, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 19, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 19, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 19, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday November 19, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 19, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 20, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY

Oral Cancer and HPV: The Surprising Connection

  • Sunday November 21, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 21, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

GERD: A Burning in the Chest and a Whole Lot More

  • Monday October 18, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday October 18, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET

Lung Cancer: Improving Treatment and Decreasing the Mortality

  • Sunday October 17, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday October 16, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday October 15, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 15, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 15, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 15, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 15, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday October 15, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday October 11, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday October 11, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET

Nutrition and Weight Management

  • Sunday October 10, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2

Medications: A Modern Miracle, But Are They Safe and Available

  • Sunday October 17, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday October 17, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 10, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday October 9, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday October 8, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 8, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 8, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 8, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 8, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday October 8, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday October 4, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday October 4, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET

The Immune System: Not Just Fighting Infections

  • Sunday October 3, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday October 3, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday October 2, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday October 1, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 1, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 1, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday October 1, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Friday October 1, 2021 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday October 1, 2021 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET

New Approaches to Shoulder Replacement

  • Monday September 27, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday September 27, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 26, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 25, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 24, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday September 24, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Friday September 24, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Friday September 24, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 11:30 am CT on KET

Oral Healthcare: Our Teeth Should Last a Lifetime

  • Monday September 20, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday September 20, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 19, 2021 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 18, 2021 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Season 14 Episodes

2019 Legislative Review: Bills Related to Health and Health

S14 E25 Length 26:47 Premiere Date 5.12.19

Lead and Other Everyday Environmental Dangers

S14 E24 Length 26:59 Premiere Date 5.5.19

Tobacco Cessation: The Power of Group Education and Support

S14 E23 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 4.28.19

Quality and Safety in Healthcare: What's Important

S14 E22 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 4.21.19

Vaccinations: Who, What, When, and Why?

S14 E21 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 4.14.19

The Adolescent Brain and Substance Use

S14 E20 Length 27:09 Premiere Date 4.7.19

Epilepsy: Medical and Surgical Treatment

S14 E19 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 3.31.19

Community Health Workers: Care Away from the Clinic

S14 E18 Length 27:23 Premiere Date 3.24.19

The Flu: It's Not Just a Bad Cold

S14 E17 Length 26:56 Premiere Date 2.24.19

Financial and Mechanical Ways to Protect Our Teeth

S14 E16 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 2.17.19

Aging Optimally

S14 E15 Length 27:15 Premiere Date 2.10.19

Colon Cancer: To Screen or Not to Screen Is Not a Question

S14 E14 Length 27:16 Premiere Date 2.3.19

Autism

S14 E13 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.27.19

Leukemia and Lymphoma

S14 E12 Length 26:59 Premiere Date 1.20.19

Hypertension: The Silent but Consequential Disease

S14 E11 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 1.13.19

Genetic Testing: Not a Parlor Game

S14 E10 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 1.6.19

Trauma and Toxic Stress

S14 E9 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 12.16.18

Cancer and Immunotherapy

S14 E8 Length 27:10 Premiere Date 12.9.18

Intestinal Biome: We're in This Gut Together

S14 E7 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 11.18.18

Community Health Centers: Taking the Clinic to the Patient

S14 E6 Length 27:20 Premiere Date 11.11.18

Arthritis

S14 E5 Length 26:58 Premiere Date 11.4.18

Thyroid Disease

S14 E4 Length 27:21 Premiere Date 10.28.18

Breast Cancer

S14 E3 Length 27:05 Premiere Date 10.21.18

Weight Loss: Reasons, Options, Benefits

S14 E2 Length 28:48 Premiere Date 10.14.18

Chiropractic: A Good Back and Neck for a Healthy Body

S14 E1 Length 25:23 Premiere Date 10.7.18

Explore KET