Annual dental visits are as important to overall health as regular wellness visits
Thirty percent of Western New York adults did not visit a dentist within the past year, according to the results of a new survey commissioned by Univera Healthcare.
“The lack of annual routine dental care by such a large segment of the population is surprising, because 78 percent of respondents report having a regular dentist,” said Richard Vienne, D.O., Univera Healthcare vice president and chief medical officer. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone visit his/her dentist for an exam and cleaning at least once a year (and preferably once every six months).
To encourage routine dental care, Univera added a unique “cash back” Dental Rewards benefit to its small health insurance coverage and is offering it as an option for large groups. Small group members can earn up to $200 cash back ($100 for the subscriber, $100 for the subscriber’s spouse). For large groups, if the company elects to participate in the Dental Rewards program, members can earn up to $300 cash back ($100/person) just for providing proof that they (and their family members, if applicable) made it to the dentist for annual cleanings. Members are eligible for these rewards regardless of whether they have dental insurance or not.
Good dental care isn’t just about checking for cavities and gum disease. Many diseases that affect the entire body often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems. More than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.
The following health conditions may be identified by a dentist during a routine oral exam:
· GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
· Cancers of the head, neck, mouth and throat
· AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
· Autoimmune diseases, including Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
· Celiac disease
· Chronic kidney disease
“People should view routine dental care the same way they view other routine medical care, such as wellness visits, standard immunizations, and screenings for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and various cancers,” said Vienne. “You shouldn’t just go to the dentist when you think there’s something wrong.”
Univera commissioned One Research to conduct an online general population survey of adults who live in 39 upstate New York counties and are ages 18 and older. Two-thousand individuals completed the survey. Data were weighted to census targets of age, sex, race and ethnicity, and were tested at a 95 percent confidence interval, assuring that results accurately represent upstate New York adults.
Respondents’ top three reasons for not visiting a dentist:
· 40 percent believe there is no need if they don’t have signs of a tooth problem
· 24 percent are concerned about the cost
· 16 percent expressed fear
Among adults who do not receive once-a-year cleanings, about one-third said a cash incentive or gift card would motivate them to get cleanings. Seventeen percent want a dentist located closer to where they live or work, and 16 percent want a dentist who participates in their dental insurance network.
“For help finding a dentist who meets your needs, visit your health insurer’s website,” advised Vienne, “which may list nearby dentists who accept new patients.”
A Univera Healthcare infographic containing tips for better dental care is available free to download at https://tinyurl.com/ybg3q9xa .;
View complete survey results at https://tinyurl.com/y94qme9v .