Delta Dental of New Jersey program expands access to care for children and adults with disabilities

Delta Dental of New Jersey is helping to expand dental care access by introducing an enhanced special health care needs benefit for children and adults with qualifying special health care conditions. Effective Jan.1, 2024, group-covered members of any age with a qualifying special health care need will be eligible for this benefit.

“At Delta Dental of New Jersey, through the work of our foundation, we have a long history of working with organizations who support people with special needs, and we are acutely aware of the unmet dental care needs facing these individuals,” Dr. Keith Libou, chief clinical officer of Delta Dental of New Jersey, said. “With this benefit, Delta Dental is helping to break down barriers to make oral health care more inclusive and accessible for those with special needs in New Jersey.”

As defined by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, special health care needs include any physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive or emotional impairment or limiting condition that requires medical management, health care intervention and/or use of specialized services or programs.

The enhanced special health care needs benefit will cover:

  • Additional dental examinations and/or consultations;
  • Up to four dental cleanings in a benefit year; and
  • Treatment delivery modifications (including nitrous oxide and anesthesia).

“I’ve been a pediatric dentist for over 20 years and, like all dentists, want for special need patients who live in the community with us to have proper access to dental care,” Dr. Elisa Velazquez, New Jersey Academy of Pediatric Dentistry immediate past president, New Jersey Hispanic Dental Association president and New Jersey Dental Association president-elect said. “Special needs individuals require an approach that isn’t cookie-cutter. For example, they require more frequent dentist visits to gain a level of familiarity and alleviate some of their fear and anxiety. Delta Dental of New Jersey’s special needs benefits program will be truly life-changing for these patients and their families.”

In June, Delta Dental of New Jersey, along with the New Jersey Dental Association and Special Olympics of New Jersey, launched a special needs provider directory of those who are trained to make different exam and treatment modifications, leading to a safer and more comfortable patient experience with improved outcomes. This directory continues to be updated by the NJDA as new dentists sign up to be added to the list.