Oral Health and Your Bottom line

    Learn about the Relationship between Oral Health, Overall Health, Your Employees, and Your Bottom Line

    Dental Associates Director of Professional Development Richard GeskerBy: Richard W. Gesker, DMD, MBA, Director of Professional Development, Dental Associates
    Dental Associates is the Provider Partner for CarePlus Dental Plans

    The following article appeared in a newsletter from the Wisconsin City/County Management Association in August 2018.

    There is a huge focus on group medical insurance plans today, and rightfully so. Health care costs and health insurance costs continue to skyrocket. At the same time, as an HR professional, you are encouraged to pay attention to your group dental plan and promote its use. Group dental insurance can be an inexpensive benefit that yields a great return on investment.

    The connection between oral health and overall health is often acknowledged, but dental benefits are extremely underutilized and access to dental care is limited. Many employees with dental benefits are not effectively linked to a dental provider, allowing their dental disease to advance in the absence of preventive care. Small cavities can become larger, leading to larger fillings, root canals, crown work, or possibly even an extraction. Past dental work is incorrectly assumed to be guaranteed for life and is often not properly maintained. Minor gingivitis can lead to severe gum disease if not treated properly. Dental disease simply does not reverse itself; however, simple early intervention will prevent long, costly, and painful procedures.

    Good oral health is tied to good overall health

    Maybe you’ve heard that the mouth is a window to overall health. It’s true: good oral health is a critical component of overall health and wellness. Poor oral health can lead to gum disease, which is a leading cause of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and head and neck cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, cardiovascular disease causes about 610,000 deaths every year—that’s about 1,670 people per day. Heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.*

    One of the most important mouth-body connections is your heart and mouth. Research has found a link between heart disease and gum health. Having periodontal disease (gum disease) increases the risk of a first heart attack by 28%, according to a 2016 study by the Karolinska University Hospital.**

    Implementing an effective group dental plan is a low-cost and high-return on investment in your company’s current benefit package. It’s proven that employees with good health have increased productivity and lower health care costs, both for them and for your company. It also benefits employers to develop and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce by adding value to recruitment and retention.

    All companies are struggling with the cost of employee wellness programs

    A good dental plan that promotes semiannual cleanings and exams is an inexpensive and effective way to promote employee wellness. In fact, the best dental plans in the market today offer cleanings and exams outside the plan’s annual maximum. This feature leaves more benefit dollars per year for any major services that may be needed.

    Dentists and hygienists are eager to deliver oral health care services, as dental disease and poor oral health not only shortens your life but is communicable. The bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease can be passed between people much like a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Your teeth, supporting bone structure, and gums are extremely vascular areas where bacteria, viruses, and other pathology pass directly into your bloodstream. Those with healthy mouths are at lower risk for stroke, heart attacks, and dietary deficiencies. Plus, a beautiful smile can do wonders for self-esteem, self-confidence, and your company’s image!

    Good overall wellness is the best way to combat the high cost of lost time and absenteeism

    When your employees are healthy, they produce better work. By offering affordable insurance options that include routine health checkups, your employees have the opportunity to maintain their overall health, which can result in less time lost to sick days for emergency appointments. Many dental plans in the market today are very affordable, and even the smallest employers can offer a quality group plan on a voluntary basis at no cost to the employer.

    Don't sleep on your group dental plan. Like your group medical plan, make sure the benefits are up-to-date with the market. More importantly, promote its use; semiannual cleanings and exams can help your employees and their dependents stay healthy and productive year-round.

    * Source: Heart Disease Facts
    ** Source: Periodontitis Increases the Risk of a First Myocardial Infarction

    Also consider reading:
    Dental Managed Care Benefits Your Bottom Line
    Employee Dental Health Impacts Your Bottom Line

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