Employer-sponsored dental insurance can play an integral part in your employees’ health. Regular dental exams detect issues before they become big problems. Dentists gain insight into patients’ overall health by looking at the health of the mouth, teeth and gums. In addition, dental problems also can affect overall health. Mouths are full of bacteria. In a clean mouth, 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria live on each tooth surface.
Daily brushing and flossing keep bacteria levels down, but certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva is important because it washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth that might lead to disease. Those who do not clean their mouths regularly could be looking at serious disease and decay. While your employees can practice good oral hygiene as a way to avoid disease, the importance of regular dental checkups and cleanings cannot be overstated.
This is where dental insurance can help. Dental policies generally cover two preventive visits annually and a portion of the costs for preventive care, fillings, crowns, root canals and oral surgery. Some plans also cover orthodontics, realigning teeth and jaws; periodontics, the structures that support and surround the tooth; and prosthodontics, fitting dental prostheses.
Diseases and Conditions Influenced by Poor Oral Health
Here are a few of the conditions that can be detected with regular exams:
Cardiovascular disease –While some researchers debate whether poor oral health can actually lead to heart disease, studies show that inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria might be a factor in heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke.
Endocarditis – Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart and occurs when bacteria or other germs from one part of the body, including the mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
Glaucoma – Glaucoma occurs when normal fluid in the eye doesn’t drain properly. This creates pressure that damages the optic nerve, resulting in sight loss. Although there are a number of reasons why glaucoma occurs, including age, family history, racial background and medical conditions, such as diabetes, some researchers believe oral infections might trigger a series of events where the bacteria from an inflamed tooth or gums spreads to the optic nerve.
Periodontitis – Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease and has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, as well as increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.