An employee's oral health goes far beyond the niceties of fresh breath, sparking white teeth, and a vibrant smile. In fact, there are countless studies showing how closely an individual's oral health is linked to their overall well-being and health.

Believe it or not, dentists were characterized by a Delta Dental information sheet as disease detectives. Although this might seem like a bit of a leap, many professionals feel that this is a very appropriate and accurate characterization considering regular dental exams can play a role in detecting an array of medical conditions.

In fact, Delta Dental, which is one of the nation's largest dental benefits carriers, says that a dental exam can reveal more than 120 different signs and symptoms of disease. For example, a dental exam may reveal a patient has a dry mouth and fruity, sharp smelling breath, signs of possible diabetes; mouth sores, a sign the patient's immune system could be compromised; possibly cancerous lumps or sores on the tongue, jaw, neck, or mouth; or certain mouth appearances and inflammatory processes, which could be a sign of anemia. A routine dental X-ray could reveal bone loss, a sign of osteoporosis. When such is noted by a dentist, he/she will alert the patient and encourage them to follow-up with their primary care physician.

Aside from being a diagnostic tool for non-dental related diseases, the presence of poor oral health can actually lead to a number of medical problems itself. For example, gum disease has been linked directly to some underweight babies, premature births, hyperglycemia, and pancreatic cancer. A gum that's not healthy can also allow the bacteria that's naturally present in the human mouth to invade the blood stream and travel to other areas of the body that would consider it foreign, a happening that could lead to clogged arteries, stroke, bacterial endocarditis, or heart disease.

As if the above isn't reason enough to offer employees access to dental benefits, there's always the actual dental-related and cosmetic impacts from maintaining good dental health. After all, an employee suffering the pain, discomfort, and embarrassment of a broken tooth, cavity, or gum disease isn't very likely to concentrate as well or be as productive as they could be without such ailments.

By offering employees access to a Dental insurance plan, employers can help enable and encourage them to seek regular dental care to prevent such problems or, at the very least, get treatment for existing problems. Preventive care is often 100% covered under dental plans, especially when the employee uses an in-network dentist, but there's usually coinsurance or a co-payment associated with non-preventive visits.

In such economic times, it might be hard for some employers to fit the addition of Dental insurance into their budget. However, the coverage can always be offered on a voluntary basis where the employee would be responsible for most, if not all, of the benefit's cost. The employer wouldn't be shouldering the expense, but the employee would still have access to dental coverage, be able to get a group discount, and conveniently have the premiums deducted from their payroll check. The voluntary insurance market offers several plan structures, including indemnity plans, PPOs, HMOs, and discount plans.

Employees that are able to maintain their oral health will be happier, healthier, and ultimately more productive and focused while they're working. If you are unsure about which dental benefits option would best fit both the needs of your company and your employees, contact our office today.

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Further Reading
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