Delta Dental of Arizona to offer special needs benefit statewide

This article was originally published in Queen Creek Sun Times.

For the estimated 7 million adults and children living within the United States with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD), visiting the dentist for oral health care can be overwhelming or even inaccessible. In an effort to advance its mission to create a path to better health and wellness, effective April 1, most Delta Dental of Arizona dental plans will give children and adults with special health care needs access to increased benefits.

These benefits will include:

  • Additional dental visits to increase patient and caregiver comfort and set treatment expectations.
  • Up to four dental cleanings in a benefit year.
  • Extra chair time for treatment delivery modifications necessary to accommodate patients with sensory sensitivities, behavioral challenges or other barriers to treatment.
  • Use of anesthesia to provide dental care, which may include up to four units of anesthesia, when necessary.

These benefits will be included with most existing individual and group dental plans. Any eligible enrolled employee or their enrolled family members diagnosed with a special health care need that significantly impairs their ability to receive routine covered dental services may be eligible for additional services.

“According to the 2023 Delta Dental of Arizona Oral Health Survey, 77% believe that taking proactive steps to safeguard their oral health leads to a healthier lifestyle, yet people with special health care needs are often less likely to seek care to manage their oral health,” said Michael Jones, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Arizona. “This benefit to our members and their families is critical in reducing barriers to care and increasing access to better health and wellness for all Arizonans.”

Delta Dental of Arizona defines a person with a special health care need as an individual with a physical, developmental, mental, sensory, behavioral, cognitive or emotional impairment or a limiting condition requiring medical management, health care intervention and/or the use of specialized services or programs. This includes:

  • Intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities
  • Environmental or congenital injuries leading to disability
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Syndromes or sequences with craniofacial or airway abnormalities
  • Other sequences that require special dental care needs
  • Any other syndrome, sequence or abnormality that limits the ability to perform daily self-care or creates substantial limitations in a major life activity

In addition to the new benefit, Delta Dental has also invested in increased training for providers. “To ensure all network dentists and their staff are trained to meet the unique needs of their patients with special health care needs, Delta Dental and the University of Pennsylvania have partnered on a free continuing education series aimed at building awareness of oral health care to this vulnerable population,” said Jones. Network dentists may visit to learn more.

For more information about the Delta Dental of Arizona Special Health Care Needs Benefit, visit