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Tips to help make selling simple

The smoking and dental health connection

The rate of people trying to quit smoking dropped for the first time in a decade during the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend researchers attributed to stress caused by the pandemic. 

On November 17, it’s more important than ever to mark the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout by learning more about the true costs of smoking and how you can support your individual and group clients’ overall health and wellness objectives.

The cost of smoking

Smoking doesn’t just take a tragic toll on an employee’s health; employees who smoke impose significant costs on employers. Smoking costs the United States nearly  $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion in medical care and more than $150 billion in lost productivity. An individual smoker can cost an employer health plan up to $6,000 annually.

Smoking can impact an organization in many ways, including:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Higher rates of absenteeism
  • Excess health care costs

About 12.5% of American adults smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number may seem small, but with a staff of 200 people, smoking could cost a business as much as $150,000 a year in health care costs, lost productivity, housekeeping, infrastructure and higher premiums for fire and property insurance.

Smoking and oral health

Smoking increases the risk for many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but it can also take a serious toll on oral health. The damage includes:

  • Tooth discoloration. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause yellow or stained teeth.
  • Cavities. Consuming nicotine reduces saliva production in the mouth, and without enough moisture, plaque and tartar easily build up on the teeth, leading to cavities.
  • Gum recession. Smoking irritates the lining of the gums, causing them to pull back from the teeth. Nicotine from smoking or vaping reduces blood flow to the teeth and gums, which also contributes to gum recession.
  • Gum disease. Smoking weakens the immune system, which makes smokers more vulnerable to developing gum disease. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease compared with non-smokers, and that risk increases the more you smoke.
  • Tooth loss. Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, while female smokers are up to 2.5 times more likely.
  • Oral cancer. Tobacco is the major risk factor for cancers of the mouth and throat. Smokers are 10 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer.

Why dental insurance matters when it comes to smoking

Having dental insurance is important for everyone, but it can be crucial for a smoker.

Most Delta Dental plans, including all individual options, offer 100% coverage for diagnostic and preventive services such as cleanings and exams. With regular exams and cleanings available under a Delta Dental plan, a dentist can catch and address the harmful effects of smoking early. Many pre-cancers and cancers in the oral cavity can be found first during routine oral exams by a dentist or dental hygienist. Dentists can also inform patients about the harmful effects of smoking, encourage smokers to quit and even prescribe cessation medication.

Overall, cigarette smokers are more prone to many different illnesses, especially those that affect the mouth. Make sure your individual clients who smoke are aware of the importance of taking care of their oral health, and encourage your group clients to provide an employee wellness program with incentives to quit. Having dental insurance can help smokers deal with the dental problems that emerge due to smoking, and it can even help them in their cessation attempts.