More than 164 million work hours are lost each year because of dental health problems. A recent Delta Dental Oral Health and Wellbeing Survey indicates that about one in six Americans (16 percent) miss work because of oral health issues.
The survey also showed that more than one in four Americans (27 percent) say they have oral health issues that they’d like to address, but often are prohibited by their inability to pay for the work (cited by 62 percent of those with unresolved issues).
Dental care is directly connected to our overall well-being and productivity; according to a U.S. surgeon general’s report, ignoring oral health can lead to needless pain and suffering, causing devastating complications. The financial and social costs of poor oral health significantly diminish quality of life and even burden society.
Dental coverage is a significant factor: Nearly eight out of 10 Americans (78 percent) with dental coverage visit the dentist at least once a year, versus only about half (52 percent) of those who don’t have coverage. The connection between dental coverage and dental visits isn’t surprising, but the numbers demonstrate a stark contrast — Americans with coverage are more likely to receive preventive care.
Many Americans don’t realize that affordable dental coverage is available for individuals and small businesses. In fact, because the Affordable Care Act doesn’t mandate dental coverage among adults, we are seeing more and more coverage options. Individuals can enroll any time for dental coverage in this country and they don’t need to wait for next year’s open enrollment.
Prevention and coverage are the keys to success. Americans who go to the dentist at least once a year are 22 percent more likely to report their overall physical and emotional health as good or better, compared to those who seldom visit the dentist.
Prevention also promotes smiles. A healthy smile represents happiness and confidence, and has become a requirement for success in business and careers. In a recent interview, Malcolm Gladwell, author of “David and Goliath” and “The Tipping Point” said, “teeth are becoming the new benchmark of inequality.” According to Gladwell, those with bad teeth also have less chance of success because they often are denied opportunities for career advancement.
Providing employees elective dental insurance has become one of the most desired benefits. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 77 percent of workers report benefits offered by prospective employers affect their decision to accept or reject a job.
As employers, it’s essential we employ smiling, productive and satisfied employees.