Reining in Runaway Healthcare Costs – A Dental Consumer Advocacy Approach

Recently, I have read a number of interesting and informative articles regarding the importance of Dental Hygiene as it relates to direct medical costs and health insurance premiums, as well as indirect costs due to absenteeism and lack of productivity.

For some time we have recognized the work related ramifications of health risk factors such as obesity, smoking, stress, poor diet, and inactivity.  We must now add neglected dental health to this list as a significant cause of acute and chronic illness, pain, poor diet, and eating habits, and physical and emotional distress.

Guardian Life Insurance commissioned a survey of 1000 US consumers in September of 2006.  They found that 89% of the participants in the dental coverage survey agreed that there is a connection between oral health and overall health.  A Swedish study published in July 2006 Journal of Periodontology suggests the direct relationship of loss of teeth to likelihood of heart attack.  A University of North Carolina study published in a 2007 issue of Blood Purification reports that elevated levels of antibodies to gum disease are directly associated to decreased levels of kidney function.  There is more than sufficient evidence to support the fact that oral infection is linked to heart disease and stroke, diabetes, pre-term birth, and respiratory diseases.

Periodontal disease is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.  Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without.  Periodontal disease is more common in people with diabetes and it is significant that 65% of deaths in people with diabetes are due to heart disease and stroke.

We want to hold down costs of health coverage for our employees and employer.  We advocate Wellness programs for our employees to help hold down costs of future healthcare.   It is time to accept the fact that participating in a group/voluntary dental plan combination will be a great factor in accomplishing this goal.  The cost of a very basic group dental policy will be minor compared to the overall cost of employee healthcare coverage.

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