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Worth of Mouth - The latest on business, wellness and more

Word of Mouth

The latest on business, wellness and more 

How to help your employees manage diabetes

Researchers are finding that the link between diabetes and oral health continues to grow stronger. People with diabetes tend to have a greater incidence of periodontal disease and tooth decay. But did you know that improved oral hygiene can improve blood glucose levels? This November, recognize American Diabetes Month by understanding what you can do to help support your employees.

The links between diabetes and dental health

Visiting your dentist to manage your diabetes may seem unusual, but it’s true. Procedures such as scaling and root planing can decrease cortisol levels in the blood, improving glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients in as little as three to four months, according to the National Institutes of Health. An infection such as periodontal disease can cause germs to get into the bloodstream; as part of the body’s defense system, blood sugar levels rise. Periodontal treatment reduces inflammation and can also prevent the disease from growing worse.

The problem compounds when diabetes goes uncontrolled. Diabetes can cause the salivary glands in your mouth to make less saliva, which creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, leading to cavities and periodontal disease. What makes it worse is that many people tend to neglect their dental health when battling a chronic disease such as diabetes. People with underlying diseases such as diabetes may not go to the dentist as regularly as people without.

Diabetes and your employees

Unfortunately, diabetes is taking its toll on America’s workforce. The disease cost U.S. businesses an estimated $327 billion in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That figure includes $237 billion in medical care costs, $3.3 billion in absenteeism and $26.9 billion in reduced productivity. 

Since 10.2% of the U.S. population has diabetes, that means one out of every 10 employees is missing work regularly because of the disease. When your employees control their diabetes not only are they healthier, but it can also help your company’s bottom line.

How you can help employees with diabetes

You can help your employees with diabetes get the treatment they need with SmileWay® Wellness Benefits, an optional add-on benefit for Delta Dental PPO™ plans. Available for employees diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, this benefit provides expanded coverage for cleanings and gum treatments. If you don’t already offer this benefit, contact your sales representative for more information.

There are other things you can do to promote dental health:

  • Educate employees about the dental health connection. During November, use content from Delta Dental’s wellness calendar, which contains emails that focus on diabetes as well as  flyers and articles to educate your employees. You can also share a link to a wellness article on diabetes and oral health.
  • Remind employees to use their dental benefits. People with dental benefits are more likely to visit the dentist than people without them. They’ll get those thorough cleanings and receive an exam that may identify symptoms of diabetes.

Controlling diabetes is only one part of dental health, though. Employees who brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, floss and go to their dentist regularly are healthier. Help remind them of that and give them the information they need to control diabetes.