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The importance of dental care: Oral health and wellness

importance of dental care

Did you know that poor oral health can lead to many seemingly unrelated medical conditions? In fact, oral bacteria and oral disease have been linked to a variety of serious illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and pregnancy complications. That’s why it’s essential for employers to understand the importance of dental care and how it relates to their employees’ benefits.

The importance of oral health

The following examples illustrate the relationship between your oral health and general health.

  • Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs affect both your overall and oral health.
  • Dry mouth, or a lack of saliva increases your risk of tooth decay.
  • Oral pain resulting in an inability to eat properly prevents you from getting the nutrition your body needs to stay healthy.

Periodontal disease

Oral health can often be used to diagnose underlying health issues. For example, the advanced form of gum disease, called periodontitis, causes tooth loss and is also sometimes associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia.

People who are pregnant and have periodontitis are at an increased risk for their baby to be delivered pre-term and/or have low birth weight. People who have diabetes are more likely to develop periodontitis and more severe cases of it. People who smoke or drink alcohol have an increased risk of periodontitis and other conditions, such as oral cancer.

How can you improve your oral health and wellness?

Given the potential link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, preventing periodontitis may turn out to be an important step in maintaining your overall health. In most cases, this can be accomplished by practicing good daily oral hygiene. This includes regularly brushing, flossing and seeing a dentist for cleanings.

Tell your dentist about changes in your oral health, including any recent illnesses or chronic conditions. Also provide your dentist with an updated health history, including the medication you use — both prescription and over-the-counter. If you smoke, talk to your dentist about options for quitting.

Making the connection: How employers can help

If you’re currently not offering or want to provide better dental coverage, HANYS Benefit Services can help. We’ll take the time to discuss the best options for your organization while taking your feedback into consideration. Schedule a time to speak with us today or take a deeper look at our employee benefits offerings. Also, Check out our recent blog, The importance of employer dental benefits: FAQ, to learn how improved dental benefits attract and retain talent.

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