Anyone who has ever had a dental problem knows how distracting it can be, making even the basics like eating and talking uncomfortable. Employed adults lose 164 million hours of work each year due to their own oral health problems or dental visits, according to a report by Qualis Health. They’re at an even greater risk of missing work due to their children’s poor oral health.
Business leaders working to keep health benefits costs down and productivity up are increasingly considering dental care as part of the preventive package that drives employee wellness.
Employees with dental benefits tend to be not only more productive, but heathier overall. Adults who visit the dentist are 37% more likely to report good or better oral health and almost twice as likely to report better overall physical wellbeing.
At Delta Dental of Wisconsin, we believe the correlation between preventive dental care and cost savings cannot be stressed enough. For every dollar spent on preventive oral healthcare like check-ups, X-rays and sealants, as much as $50 is saved on restorative and emergency dental services.
Detecting and treating oral disease is associated with significant savings on the medical side, as well. For example, a University of Michigan study found that with regular periodontal care, there was a:
- 10 percent reduction in diabetes related medical costs
- 20 percent reduction in costs related to the treatment of cardiovascular disease in patients with heart disease and diabetes
- 30 percent reduction is costs related to treatment of kidney disease for patients with kidney disease and diabetes
- 40 percent reduction in costs related to treating congestive heart failure for patients with diabetes
When people have dental benefits, they are 2.5 times more likely to visit the dentist, making it more likely that issues can be discovered and treated sooner, and preventing the need for expensive procedures or medical costs.
Employers are recognizing the connection. In 2000, only 31 percent of all businesses offered dental benefits. Today, 53 percent of employers offer dental coverage, suggesting that dental coverage is viewed as an important component of an overall wellness program.
Offering dental benefits and encouraging employees to visit the dentist regularly will help keep them healthy and productive.
Latest posts by Steve LeRoy
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