A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.
Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, voluntary accident insurance, and Medicare supplement
for eligible Church of the Brethren employees
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities.
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120
August is the only month of the year that can't claim any kind of holiday. It seems a little sad and neglected in that sense, and yet, what would we do without August? I bet you didn't know these fun facts about our eighth month -- did you know that the month of August always ends on the same day of the week as November? And did you know that August used to have 29 days until Julius Caesar added two days to it? As we enter this eighth month of 2017 and ponder the last full month of summer, let's all appreciate the full 31 days we now have to enjoy the flora, the sunshine, the warm breezes, and the leisurely pace, before it comes to a close.
Appropriately, one of the things a lot of folks do during this long uncelebrated month is schedule a trip to the dentist. It doesn't sound glamorous or even especially summery, but it is the time of year that kids usually need their back-to-school checkup, and it's a good time to schedule one of your twice-a-year cleanings, before getting too far past the mid-point of the calendar. We have devoted this issue to dental health, and want to remind you that Brethren Insurance Services has several good dental insurance plans to choose from - for every budget and every dental need.
So whether you are looking for some healthy summer snacks that will also benefit your smile, or thinking you might be looking at some visits to the dentist in the near future and want to explore coverage for that, read on and let us know if we can help.
Before you know it, August will be ending. That's on a Thursday this year. Check your calendar -- we bet November ends on a Thursday too!
You don't have to brush all your teeth --
Just the ones you want to keep
A dentist with a flair for the dramatic once exclaimed to a patient, "If you don't take care of your teeth ..." and he cast his hands into the air as though he were throwing his teeth away left and right. He had an excellent point. If you don't practice good dental habits, you might as well throw your teeth away.
It's a rare person who has never had a cavity. That's because tooth decay occurs when foods containing sugars and starches are left on the teeth, and that has the potential to happen almost every day. The bacteria living in the mouth thrive on these foods, and together they form plaque. Bacteria in the plaque feed on the sugars to make acids that attack the teeth, and over time these acids destroy tooth enamel, forming a hole, which we call a cavity. You may need to have a cavity filled, or for a tooth that is badly damaged, you may need a crown. If the infection gets into the pulp, you will need a root canal -- removal of the diseased pulp, which is replaced with a substitute material. The most radical measure is to have the tooth removed.
Each tooth has three layers. The hard outer layer is the enamel. The middle layer is called dentin. The center of the tooth is called the pulp, containing nerves and blood vessels. The deeper into the tooth the decay goes, the more serious the problem and the greater the threat to the tooth. The early signs of tooth decay are a toothache or white, gray, or black spots on your teeth. Swelling of the gums or face can be a more serious sign; for example, an abscessed tooth. If not treated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and tooth loss.
However, foods with sugars and starches are not the only cause of tooth problems. Other causes are the lack of the minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. and the lack of vitamins A, D, E, and K -- especially vitamin D.
We probably don't pay attention to our gums as often as we worry about our teeth, but gum disease is a further threat to dental health. It is caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar, which builds up on neglected teeth (and once formed, can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist). The result is gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, when the gums are red, swollen, tender, and bleed easily. If caught early, gingivitis can be reversed with a professional cleaning and attention to brushing and flossing.
Mild to moderate periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease in which bacterial poisons in the plaque begin to break down the gums' attachment to the tooth. Teeth may become so loose that they need to be removed. Treatment is critically necessary to prevent bone loss and loose teeth.
Periodontal disease is also a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Researchers don't know why, but it appears that gum disease does not just signal inflammation, it increases inflammation, which contributes to coronary artery disease. The same bacteria that make a home on gums have been found in arterial-wall plaque.
The main goal in treating
gum disease is to control the infection. Scaling is a deep-cleaning method for removing tartar, by scraping it from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots all the way down on the tooth's roots where germs gather. Medications can help, such as oral antibiotics used like a mouthwash. Oral surgery might be necessary if deep pockets and inflammation still remain after deep cleaning and medication. Bone and tissue grafts can help regenerate bone and gum tissue.
are detected using X-rays, detecting dye, or laser fluore
scence. Once detected
, decay is removed and the tooth is filled in so it retains its original shape.
, or "silver" fillings, have been in use for many years, and are compose
d of a combination of silver, tin, copper, zinc, and mercury formed in a soft mat
erial that hardens as the metals integrate. (The mercury is not toxic because it is locked inside when the filling hardens.)
fillings are made up of tiny pieces of silica surrounded by a resin composed of something called bis-GMA. This material hardens when the dentist shines a blue light on it. The composite filling is tooth-colored and looks and feels like part of a natural tooth.
Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp in the tooth -- the small thread-like tissue in the center of the root, made up of nerves, arteries, veins, and lymph tissue - is infected or compromised, putting the tooth at high risk and usually causing it to ache. When the infected pulp has been removed, the space is cleaned, shaped, and filled.
Crowns or caps are restorations that protect and cover damaged, cracked, or broken teeth. The crown sits over the whole remaining tooth above the gum, and is made of porcelain, metal, or a combination of materials.
bridge replaces a missing tooth or teeth and consists of false teeth bonded with crowns attached to teeth on either side, thus filling the gap left by a missing tooth or teeth. A
partial functions like a bridge but is removable and uses a metal framework to grip existing teeth and hold the false teeth that fill the gap left by missing teeth.
Dental implants are metal posts or frames surgically placed directly into the bone to act as an anchor for (artificial) replacement teeth. A dental implant replicates the entire lost tooth including the root. With implants, bone loss is kept to a minimum, and the surrounding healthy teeth are preserved.
extraction, removal of the whole tooth (including the root) is often the final choice of treatment for teeth that have suffered from severe decay or a bad break (although some teeth are removed for reasons of overcrowding, and some people have impacted wisdom teeth removed surgically).
Whitening (professional or over-the-counter) is a treatment using a peroxide-based material for teeth that have become discolored from coffee, black tea, berries, or smoking, causing bad staining. Dental
sealants, used mainly with children, are materials placed in natural tooth recesses to fill and protect them, creating a smooth and less vulnerable surface that's easy to care for.
Braces correct the position of crooked or misaligned teeth. They consist of bands, wires, and other fixed and removable appliances, custom designed for the patient. They work by applying continuous pressure over time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone also changes shape. The straightening of teeth is not just about appearance. Teeth that are aligned help cut down on jaw joint problems, excessive or uneven wear of the teeth, gum disease, hot or cold sensitivity, and even breathing problems.
If you are of a certain age, you have seen recommendations for dental hygiene become more extensive and complicated. Flossing, for instance, only began to be widely practiced in the 1980s.
Still there is nothing surprising or revolutionary about recommendations for keeping your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. Here are some recommendations. Maybe they are not needed for you, but they bear repeating.
Brush at least twice a day, ideally 30 minutes after every meal. This allows enamel softened by acid to re-harden and not be brushed away. Use a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste. If you can afford it, use an electric toothbrush.
brushing technique is a circular motion on the surface and/or sides of each tooth, allowing the bristles to reach just under the gum and in the spaces between the teeth.
Use the same technique to clean the backs of the upper and lower teeth. It's helpful to brush your tongue too, and rinse with water. Replace your toothbrush every three months.
Floss your teeth at least once a day, and consider rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day to kill bacteria that can cause plaque. Do this before or after you brush.
Maybe the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to pay attention to what you eat. Look for foods rich in
phosphorous, minerals that are the building blocks of enamel. Look also for foods that are
firm and crunchy and
high in water content. Their texture makes them naturally abrasive and they scrub the tooth surfaces. (But this has to be fresh vegetables and fruits. Chips and crackers won't do it.)
You'll want foods rich in
vitamin D because it helps your body absorb calcium, and high in
vitamin C because it will help your gums by strengthening blood vessels and reducing inflammation. Vitamin C is also necessary for the production of collagen, a protein that helps fight periodontal disease. Also find foods rich in
antioxidants, because they fight bacteria and help protect your gums from cell damage and infection.
Some research seems to suggest that foods with
probiotics help decrease plaque and promote healthy gums. A study showed that fermented foods are associated with less periodontal disease, and probiotics may be helpful in a similar way. Finally, look for foods rich in
anthocyanins, arginine, and
polyphenols. Research seems to indicate that: anthocyanins prevent plaque from attaching to the teeth; arginine, an amino acid, may disrupt the formation of plaque and reduce chances of cavities; and polyphenols may slow the gro
wth of plaque-causing bacteria.
[See below for a list of foods that are good for dental health.]
diseases, you have to visualize in your imagination the effects of healthful practi
ces. For instance, you cannot see the effects of good diet and exercise on the heart and arteries. But with the teeth, gums, and mouth, you can see every d
ay the effects of good hygiene, and you can see the resulting problems if you
don't practice it. Your dental reality is reflected right back at you in the mirror
each day. So practice a
big smile along with good brushing and flossing habits, and you will hopefully avoid dramatic demonstrations like the gestures of the histrionic dentist. Your healthy smile should remind you how essential your teeth are and how relatively easy and simple it is to care for them.
Cheese is rich in calcium, and it lowers the acid level in your mouth, which makes it harder for plaque to form. Chewing on hard cheeses increases saliva production, which washes off some of the bacteria in the mouth. Hard, aged cheeses are the best options.
Milk is the best drink for your teeth. It's rich in calcium and other important elements. Milk also lowers the acid levels in the mouth, which helps in fighting tooth decay.
Water is a great boon to your teeth. It helps wash away food particles and keeps your saliva level high. Saliva is actually your mouth's best defense against tooth decay, because it contains proteins and minerals that naturally fight plaque, and if you stay hydrated, you have an unlimited supply of it.
Leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, kale)
Leafy greens are rich in calcium, folic acid, and lots of important vitamins and minerals that are good for your teeth and gums.
Fish (wild salmon, tuna)
Rich in minerals and important vitamins like Vitamin D, fish is a crucial part of your teeth-friendly diet.
Most meats are great for your oral health. They are packed with some of the most important nutrients mentioned above. Red meat and even organ meats are especially beneficial.
Black and green tea
These teas contain polyphenols which have been known to reduce bacteria and toxic products of bacteria in the mouth. Tea also tends to be rich in fluoride, which is a well-known necessity for healthy teeth. Drink your tea unsweetened, as sugar and even honey could counter tea's dental benefits. (Don't forget to rinse afterward to avoid excessive staining.)
Nuts are full of health benefits for your teeth. They are packed with important elements like calcium and phosphorus. Especially beneficial are almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews, which help fight bacteria that lead to tooth decay.
Cranberries (fresh) and strawberries
Cranberries are rich in polyphenols (just like tea), which keep plaque at bay, thus lowering the risk of cavities. Fresh cranberries are especially effective at disrupting the process of plaque formation. Strawberries are packed with Vitamin C, antioxidants, and also malic acid, which could even naturally whiten your teeth. (Don't forget to rinse your mouth after eating berries!)
Yogurt is definitely good for your oral health. It's packed with calcium and probiotics that protect you against cavities, gum disease, and even bad breath.
Celery is so good for your teeth, it's worth a special mention. In many ways it's the perfect snack for good oral health and is the closest we have to nature's floss.
Carrots have many of the most important minerals and vitamins for your mouth and deserve special mention.
An apple a day won't keep the dentist away, but it will certainly help. It's packed with key nutrients and vitamins.
The allicin that is contained in garlic has strong
, so it helps you fight tooth decay and especially periodontal disease.
Ginger will freshen your breath and inhibit bacteria growth.
Consumption of whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice) lowers the risk of gum disease.
Unlike many acidic fruits, raw pears are good at neutralizing acids, which makes them a perfect snack at any time.
When eaten raw, onions have powerful antibacterial properties, especially against some of the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.
These Asian mushrooms help prevent plaque. They contain lentinan, a natural sugar that disrupts the formation of plaque on your teeth.
They are high in calcium and very efficient at scrubbing plaque off your teeth while you chew them.
They provide a healthy dose of vitamin A which will be good for your enamel and gums.
This is a surprise entry, because raisins sometimes have been thought to be bad for your teeth. However, they are a source of phytochemicals like oleanolic, which may kill cavity-causing bacteria. They are also rich in antioxidants. Further, raisins do not contain sucrose, which experts believe to be a main cause of oral diseases.
An even more surprise entry is coffee! However, a series of recent
have shown that black coffee could protect your teeth from tooth decay and actually help fight plaque. There, of course, is a small catch, the coffee needs to be black and unsweetened.
Considering dental insurance
Do you know the difference between dental insurance and medical/healthcare insurance? Healthcare insurance covers costs after your medical bills reach a certain amount. Once you have spent that amount in a given year, your insurance kicks in. Dental insurance, on the other hand, only covers (reimburses) you up to a specific limit. When your dental costs go over that amount, you are responsible for all dental care costs for the rest of the year.
Policy caps for dental insurance have risen very little for the past 40 years, while expenditures for dental services continue to rise. The annual dental allowance on your insurance policy can be used up quickly. Still, most Americans with dental insurance do not use all of their annual allowance. This may be the result of good preventative care. Many plans will pay 100 percent of the cost of routine preventative and diagnostic care -- typically two annual checkups and cleanings. They have what is called 100-80-50 coverage.
The dental plan from Delta Dental, offered by Brethren Insurance Services to employees of Brethren organizations, is structured in just that way. For someone using a dentist in the Delta network, there is 100 percent coverage for checkups, cleanings, X-rays, fluoride treatments, and sealants (for children). For fillings, extractions, endodontics, non-surgical periodontics, and oral surgery, the plan will pay 80 percent. For major services such as surgical periodontics, inlays, onlays, crowns, dentures, bridges, implants, and orthodontia services for children under age 19, the plan will pay 50 percent. A deductible may apply if using a Premier or Non-Network dentist. But the total of all these payouts has a ceiling at three different levels ($2,000, $1,500, and $1,000) for three different premium amounts. The premiums vary depending on which plan type is chosen.
For more information, contact
Jeremiah Thompson at Brethren Insurance Services
800-746-1505, ext. 3368.
We hope you are enjoying our
monthly BRAIN PUZZLES -- just for fun!
1. A man stands on one side of a river, his dog on the other. The man calls his dog, who immediately crosses the river without getting wet and without using a bridge or a boat. How did the dog do it?
2. A sundial has the fewest moving parts of any timepiece. Which has the most?
3. What is unusual about the following words: revive, banana, grammar, voodoo, assess, potato, dresser, uneven?
4. What makes this number unique -- 8,549,176,320?
5. In 1990, a person is 15 years old. In 1995, that same person is 10 years old. How can this be?
6. A man takes his car to a hotel. Upon reaching the hotel, he is immediately declared bankrupt. Why?
7. What do these words have in common: polish, job, herb?
|Long-Term Care Insurance
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance
Eligibility for long-term care insurance benefits is determined by the inability to meet at least two of these six activities of daily living -- bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, continence, or transferring. Cognitive impairment can also trigger benefits.
It's difficult to think about the fact that a debilitating condition or a disabling injury might leave you unable to care for yourself, or that when you reach your twilight years, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It helps assure that the cost of your custodial care will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it can help protect your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at
or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or
to request more information.