Why do gums bleed?

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

Ever notice pink in the sink after you brush or floss your teeth? Gums bleed for many reasons and can sometimes be a sign of a bigger dental health issue. Here are nine common causes of bleeding:

  • Gingivitis: This oral health issue is caused by plaque along the gum line that is not removed with brushing or flossing. This is the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms include swollen or red gums, bad breath, and receding gum line.
  • Medications: Some medications contribute to gum sensitivity, like blood thinners and aspirin. Be sure to share your medications with your dentist.
  • Flossing incorrectly: Gums that bleed when flossing indicates poor technique, ask your dentist for a demonstration of the best methodology.
  • Brushing too hard: Gums may bleed if you brush too hard, or you need a softer bristle.
  • Poor oral health habits: Just missing one or two scheduled oral care hygiene habits may increase the sensitivity of gums.
  • Poor diet: Starchy or sugary foods caught in the gums may contribute to plaque and cause irritation and inflammation.
  • Stress: Anxiety can contribute to a breakdown of the immune system and increase the risk of tender gums.
  • Smoking or vaping: Dangerous bacteria can get trapped between the teeth and gums, leading to sensitive gums.
  • A health condition like diabetes, leukemia or a vitamin deficiency: Bleeding gums may be a sign of more serious conditions. Conditions like diabetes may make it harder to fight inflammation and infections.

Visit our blog for full details.

Get Vaccinated Now in Anticipation of a Severe Flu Season

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

Some years, flu season is less severe than others. The 2020-21 flu season was mild, partly because of the safety practices in place to avoid COVID-19, such as physical distancing and mask wearing.

Earth’s southern hemisphere — where winter flu season typically peaks between June and September — provides a preview of the kind of flu season we can expect north of the equator later in the year. And based on reports from Australia and New Zealand this summer, where flu season started earlier and hit much harder than usual, our 2022‑23 flu season is expected to be severe. Both countries had what’s been described as the biggest surge in winter illness ever, with double the average number of flu hospitalizations, persistent COVID-19 infections and a massive rise in other viruses and respiratory illnesses.

Flu season in the United States officially began on Sept. 1, and will stretch through March 2023. During this time, when more people stay indoors longer, flu will spread just as it does every year. It will likely cause many hospitalizations and an average of 20,000 to 60,000 deaths, mostly among people vulnerable to complications, including pregnant people, seniors and those with chronic health conditions.

Protect your and your family’s health with an annual flu shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual flu shots for everyone 6 months and older, with rare exceptions. Getting vaccinated can reduce the risk of serious illness and death, costly hospital and doctor visits, and missed work and school.

Yet fewer than half of U.S. adults get annual preventive flu shots; the majority take their chances and hope they don’t catch it.

Even those who don’t consider themselves to be at risk of flu-related illness or death should get vaccinated to help lower their risk of spreading the virus to others who may be vulnerable.

Flu vaccines are proven effective, but not all are recommended for every individual

Flu vaccines are updated each year to fight the latest strain of the virus, and more than one effective vaccine is available to most recipients. Recently the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended people age 65 or older receive a new high-dose version of flu vaccine when it’s available. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for the vaccine that’s appropriate for your age.

COVID-19 is present year-round

The same conditions that can cause flu to spread — mainly people spending more time indoors — are expected to continue fueling COVID-19 surges. To help prevent serious illness and death, the CDC recommends that people age 6 months and older stay up to date on their vaccinations. People age 5 and older can get a booster dose as well. The CDC recommends people age 12 and older get boosted with the newest reformulated COVID-19 vaccine that targets the highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus. People are eligible for the latest booster when a minimum of two months have passed since they received their most recent booster. You can get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time.

Playing catch-up to keep up

If you or your loved ones have fallen behind on getting routine vaccinations since the onset of the pandemic, consider getting caught up while you’re receiving your flu shot and COVID-19 booster. With the polio virus being detected recently in New York, you may want to check with your pediatrician to make sure you’ve been vaccinated against it; similarly, people age 50 and older who’ve had chickenpox should get a two-dose series of shingles vaccines, which provide a high level of immunity for at least seven years.

ALLtech members can get vaccinated at no cost

Flu, COVID-19, polio and shingles vaccines are covered at no cost to most Regence members — including those enrolled through ALLtech — when received at an in-network pharmacy or provider office. Members can visit their account on regence.com or the Regence app, or call the number on their member ID card, to quickly find local in-network providers who stand ready to give them a flu-fighting poke in the arm, along with necessary boosters, to help keep them healthy this year and for years to come.

Tips for Better Sleep for the Whole Family

When your household has sleepers of many ages, it can be a challenge to meet everyone’s sleep needs, or even to know what sleep pattern is healthy for each of you.

Get tips on Sleep Health for the Whole Family with a free webinar from Wellspring EAP, which offers the employee assistance program available to ALLtech members.

This webinar will discuss what sleep pattern and concerns are prevalent for each age, from the young child to the senior. Join Dr. Catherine Darley, ND, from noon to 1 p.m. PDT Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, as she discusses these topics:

  1. Discuss sleep norms by age
  2. Learn common sleep issues and red flags for each age group
  3. Strategize how to make a sleep healthy home for the whole family

Learn more about the Wellspring EAP resources available to ALLtech members.

Get Back on Track with Routine Vaccinations

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance that highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life.

If — like many Americans — you or your loved ones have fallen behind on your routine vaccinations since the COVID-19 outbreak, now is the time to get back on track! During National Immunization Awareness Month, ALLtech encourages you to talk to your doctor, nurse or healthcare provider to ensure you and your family are protected against serious diseases by getting caught up on routine vaccinations.

A healthy back-to-school season

As your children head back to school this fall, it’s particularly important for you to work with your child’s doctor or nurse to make sure they get caught up on missed well-child visits and recommended vaccines.

Remember to take care of yourself, too! Make sure to receive any vaccines you need to stay healthy. Use adult vaccine assessment tool from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see which vaccines might be right for you.

August is also a critical time for those who are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To learn more about the COVID‑19 vaccination, check out the following CDC resources:

ALLtech members can get vaccinated at no cost

Most Regence health plans — including those available through ALLtech — cover 100% of the cost of vaccines, including for the flu, measles, pneumonia and childhood immunizations, as a preventive benefit. Members can check the complete preventive care list at regence.com.

My Jaw is Hurting!

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

The cause of a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction can vary from person to person. In many cases, it can be difficult to even determine the cause since symptoms of TMJ often appear for no apparent reason.

A variety of symptoms have been tied to TMJ and can differ depending on the cause and/or severity of the condition. These can show up on one or both sides of the face and usually involve some level of jaw pain, tenderness, or stiffness.

Symptoms can include any or a combination of the following:

  • Jaw pain, tenderness, and stiffness
  • Jaw popping, clicking, and/or grating
  • Lock jaw
  • Pain or difficulty when chewing
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Pain, pressure, or ringing in the ears
  • Chronic headaches
  • Dizziness and/or vision problems
  • A bite that feels misaligned

As always, it’s important to speak with your dentist about what you’re experiencing so that you can discuss your options and decide on a treatment plan that’s right for you.

For more details on TMJ, check out the Delta Dental blog.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Launches

From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield

A new emergency three-digit dialing code launched today, July 16, 2022, to address the pressing need for additional mental health support for individuals in crisis throughout the United States. In 2020, Congress worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create a new 988 dialing code as America’s suicide prevention and mental health crisis lifeline.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 480,622 lives were lost to suicide between 2010 and 2020. This includes a steep increase in suicide deaths among Black people (43% increase), American Indian or Alaska Native (41% increase), Hispanic or Latino (27% increase) and individuals located in rural areas (23% increase). Demand for mental health crisis lines continues to far exceed capacity, and the launch of 988 is a crucial tool. Given the most recent data from SAMHSA, calls to the new 988 line are expected to increase two-fold from 3.3 million in 2020 to 7.6 million by the end of July 2023.

The three-digit dialing code will help strengthen crisis response systems for everyone. People who call, text or chat 988 are connected to trained counselors as part of the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. 988 provides an easy-to-remember way to reach out for help, directly connecting anyone struggling with emotional distress or those at risk of suicide with quality, accessible care and support. The new lifeline strengthens collaborative care, linking those in crisis to a wide range of community-based behavioral health care, from crisis response to early intervention and prevention services.

988 is confidential, free and available 24 hours a day year-round, offering call services in English and Spanish along with interpretation services in over 150 languages.

Supporting nonprofit partners and our behavioral health workforce

Access to mental health services is a critical community need and 988 helps strengthen and expand a whole-person health approach. Regence’s corporate foundation has invested over $300,000 in six nonprofit organizations that are part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system to support, expand, diversify and train our region’s behavioral health workforce.

Organizations that received funding in Washington state include:

“Our goal is to expand access to behavioral health services to advance whole-person health in underserved communities,” says Peggy Maguire, president of Regence’s corporate foundation. “We are honored to partner with organizations responsible for implementing 988 in our region, and to support the behavioral health workforce who will provide critical services to people living in our community.”

ALLtech members can access a spectrum of behavioral health resources

Whether you need occasional emotional support or ongoing mental health care, Regence has a variety of programs to prevent, identify and treat mental health and substance use disorders. ALLtech members enrolled in Regence or Asuris Northwest Health who want to understand what is available under their health plan can sign in to their account on regence.com.

Take Advantage of Your Preventive Care Coverage as an ALLtech Member

A visit to your doctor for recommended preventive care can help find health problems early. Finding cancer or other chronic conditions earlier can make them easier to treat and can result in better outcomes.

“Going to see your doctor for routine care that is recommended for you based on your age or family history, like a colorectal or cervical cancer screening, could save your life,” Dr. Drew Oliveira, Regence’s senior executive medical director, said in the Regence article Delayed medical care during COVID-19 pandemic increases health risks.

However, that same article notes that in June 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 41 percent of U.S. adults put off going to the doctor for routine care like screenings and chronic condition management. The medical community raised concerns after a December 2021 nationwide study showed new cancer diagnoses decreased by up to 23 percent due to fewer routine check-ups and screenings.

“There are many reasons why people haven’t had their annual check-up over the past two years,” Dr. Oliveira said. “If this is you, it’s time to call your doctor and get that scheduled. Preventive health screenings are safe and typically covered by your health plan.”

For members enrolled in medical coverage through ALLtech, preventive care services are covered at 100 percent, with no cost to you if you see an in-network provider. View the Regence BlueShield Preventive Care flyer to learn more about the services that are covered and other details.

Oliveira recommends starting with your primary care provider (PCP) to find out what check-ups are due for you, like a health screening or vaccination. If you’re a Regence member and don’t have a PCP, you can find in-network providers who are accepting new patients by signing in to your account at regence.com.

ALLtech is the employee benefits program exclusive to GeekWire member companies. Members who live in Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Whitman counties are insured by Regence partner Asuris Northwest Health, whose Preventive Care flyer is linked here.

Find Clarity and Light at Summer Webinar from Wellspring EAP

ALLtech’s employee assistance program, Wellspring EAP, offer a series of webinars each month that are focused on seasonal wellness. Join Wellspring for the next live event on Seasonal Practices to Nurture Well-Being: Summer, from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, June 22:

Summer begins with the day of the longest light and shortest darkness. Summer can signal a sense of abundance — markets are filled with fresh, colorful produce, outdoor events and gatherings of friends and family call us together, and more daylight encourages us toward increased activity. After a long season of struggle — a season that some of us still find ourselves in — this invitation to acknowledge the light and recognize abundance may feel welcomed, and it may be difficult to embrace. During this season, the light can help us find clarity and reveal areas of our lives that want and/or need our attention. In this session, facilitated by Janet Novinger, we will explore breathing and movement practices that harmonize with the invitations that this season can hold.

About the Facilitator
For over 20 years, Janet Novinger, MA, has worked — both externally and internally — as an organizational consultant in the greater Seattle region with more than 200 client companies. In her trainings, Janet draws from her experience as a manager and a consultant, a master’s degree in Whole Systems Design from Antioch University Seattle, and her work teaching adaptive yoga to people with challenging health conditions. An energetic, resourceful and creative professional, she specializes in high-performance cultures, strengthening employees’ resilience and building their capacity to be effective team members. Her time at Wellspring EAP gave her solutions-focused experience working with some of the most challenging problems organizations and leaders experience.

More Upcoming Webinars

Self-Care & Reflection
June 23, 9 – 9:30 a.m.
Learn More or Register

Skills for Living in Uncertain Times
June 28, 10 – 11 a.m.
Learn More or Register

The Journey of Grief
June 30, 11 a.m. to noon
Learn More or Register

Cultivating and Sustaining Joy – A BIPOC Affinity Space
July 15, 11 a.m. to noon
Learn More or Register

Rialto Beach in the Olympic Peninsula.

20 Must-Do Hikes Across Washington State

Our friends at the Washington Trails Association make a habit of simplifying the search for a hike with the website’s Hiking GuideTrip Reports, Hike Finder Map and many other resources.

But with this list of the Essential Washington: 20 Must-Do Hikes, your search could be over at least temporarily while you tackle these hikes that range from a few short miles — like in the above shown Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall — to longer backpacking trips like the 44-mile one-way Kettle Crest in Northeastern Washington.

How did we choose these twenty out of the hundreds of incredible trails? It was tough, but taken together, we felt these hikes do a great job of showing off Washington’s incredible trail diversity.

From Gothic Basin in the north, to Harry’s Ridge in the south, and Naches Peak Loop in the middle, plus hikes from there in every direction, this Essential Washington list is sure to keep you occupied as you explore all our beautiful state has to offer.

Want to add a couple more to your list? Consider these favorites shared last year by ALLtech Trustee Ken Myer to Lake Ann and Lake Ingalls.

Common Dental Insurance Terms to Know

From ALLtech dental provider Delta Dental of Washington

So you have dental insurance coverage, but navigating through the benefit language is not easy. We want you to understand the common terms used to ensure you know all your benefits and how your plan works for you.

Annual Maximum

This is the total amount your dental plan will cover within a specific amount of time, which is typically one year.

Claim

Think of this like the typical bill you would receive after a meal. However, this bill will go directly to the insurance provider (Delta Dental of Washington) so you don’t wait for reimbursement.

Coinsurance

The amount you’re responsible for if your insurance doesn’t cover the cost of a procedure 100%. For example, let’s say your plan covers the cost of a filling at 50% of the cost, you would pay the remaining 50%.

Copay

A copay is your share of a procedure cost determined by a fixed percentage of the total cost, it’s a fixed dollar amount. Which means, regardless of the cost of a procedure the amount you pay stays the same.

For more terms like “Deducible” or “Explanation of Benefits,” visit the Delta Dental blog for a full list of common terms.