A study published earlier this year shows that dental benefits decrease the incidence of emergency room visits.
Without dental benefits, more adults end up in the emergency room, found a study published in the May 2015 issue of the journal Health Affairs. Researchers examined the effects of removing adult dental benefits from California’s Medicaid program. They found emergency room visits for dental problems increased by 33 percent, or by about 1,800 per year under the Medicaid program. That translated into an inflation-adjusted increase of 68 percent in emergency room costs for dental care.
Other studies have found that people who don’t have dental benefits are less likely to get regular dental care. According to Delta Dental,
- Eighty-one percent of individuals with dental benefits reported seeing a dentist twice a year or more, while only 34 percent of uninsured individuals reported the same frequency of seeking preventive care
- People without dental benefits are less likely to have tooth-saving and restorative procedures (fillings, crowns, root canals) than those with benefits, but more likely to have extractions and dentures.
Unfortunately, oral health conditions can progress rapidly without treatment. Most adults show signs of periodontal or gingival (gum) diseases, with about 14 percent of those aged 45 to 54 having “severe” periodontal disease.
The Surgeon General’s study on oral health (2000) points out that oral health is integral to general health. “You cannot be healthy without oral health…. Oral diseases are progressive and cumulative and become more complex over time. They can affect our ability to eat, the foods we choose, how we look, and the way we communicate. These diseases can affect economic productivity and compromise our ability to work at home, at school, or on the job.”
Oral health can affect general health in the following ways:
- Many systemic diseases and conditions have oral manifestations. These manifestations may be the first sign of clinical disease. Regular dental check-ups can help detect these conditions for earlier treatment.
- The mouth is a portal of entry as well as the site of disease for microbial infections that affect general health status.
- Periodontal (gum) diseases have been associated with other conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Offering your employees dental benefits can increase their general health, along with their oral health…at a fraction of the cost of medical benefits.