More resources to fight periodontal disease awarded to dental patients, health-care providers

Aug. 2, 2007
Assurant Employee Benefits increases coverage to Lifetime of Smiles program.

KANSAS CITY, Missouri--Assurant Employee Benefits has announced enhancements to its industry-recognized Lifetime of Smiles program to help dental plan members and providers bridge the gap between oral health and general health.

To change the way Americans approach dental wellness, Assurant Employee Benefits launched the Lifetime of Smiles program in 2006 to impact most new dental plans effective January 1, 2007, or later.

Effective Oct. 1, the company is increasing its commitment by adding to the majority of its Lifetime of Smiles plans features that can help prevent, detect and treat periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. More than 75 percent of Americans currently live with some form of the infection, which can be systemic and lead to overall health and wellness issues.

Genetic testing
Assurant Employee Benefits knows that one way to combat gum disease is to prevent it. As a result, the company will cover genetic testing to determine susceptibility to periodontal disease. While test results do not provide a diagnosis or treatment, the information helps dentists understand a patient's propensity for gum disease.

Because gum disease is treatable, this knowledge can be used to assist patients in making choices (regular checkups, daily home care) that can help them avoid dental health issues that may lead to serious general health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and premature or low-birth-weight babies.

Products to treat periodontal disease
For those affected by periodontal disease, a number of products approved by the Food and Drug Administration are available to control infection and reduce inflammation.

Assurant Employee Benefits will cover the use of these antimicrobial agents, which include gels, gelatin chips, thread-like fibers and particles containing medication that are placed into the pockets of infected gums following scaling and root planing by a dental provider.

Periodontal cleaning upgrade
Assurant Employee Benefits will cover one periodontal cleaning every quarter in a 12-month period. The company has honored one routine and one periodontal cleaning every six months on Lifetime of Smiles plans. More frequent periodontal cleanings may help plan members prevent gum disease and the complications it may cause.

"Millions of Americans are affected by poor oral health," said James Gimarelli, DMD, vice president of dental at Assurant Employee Benefits. "Healthy teeth and gums are among the influencers of overall health and wellness. Our program additions help our network providers care for their patients in a comprehensive way with comprehensive tools, designed to help mitigate potential health issues and encourage overall wellness."

With the new features, Assurant Employee Benefits is upholding its promise of regularly enhancing the Lifetime of Smiles program. Earlier this year, the program was expanded to include discounts on dental care products containing xylitol, a natural sweetener proven to prevent tooth decay by reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

In addition to those discounts and the new features, the Lifetime of Smiles program also covers tooth-colored fillings on posterior teeth and brush biopsy procedures. Some of the newly-announced features have not yet been approved in all states.

To learn more, visit the Assurant Employee Benefits Web site at