April is Oral Health Month

For the most part, we realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?

Poor oral health can affect a person's quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth and oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These oral health problems can reduce quality of life by affecting physical, mental and social well-being.

Research has shown there is an association between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Although researchers are just beginning to understand this relationship, evidence shows that oral disease can aggravate other health problems and that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life.

Today, plan sponsors are finding it challenging to keep up with the rapid pace of research and development in dental healthcare while simultaneously making sure cost containment remains paramount.  The goal for plan sponsors is to provide appropriate and relevant coverage for their members.  With new and exciting dental innovations hitting the market, it can seem impossible to keep on top of what should and shouldn’t be covered under your dental plan.  Plan sponsors, more than ever before, need to rely on experts for help regarding the latest developments.

There are many new developments receiving attention these days; new visualization aids for oral cancer screening, the use of locally delivered antimicrobial agents (LDAs) – also referred to as periodontal antibiotics – to complement scaling and root planing to prevent gum disease.

Advances such as these may hold promise and, therefore, warrant coverage.  Further study may also be needed before it can be determined whether the investment makes sense.  In terms of the above examples, existing scientific evidence does not yet confirm their usefulness. 

Science is always moving forward and knowledge is cumulative.  Although some of today’s dental trends may not quite be there yet in terms of warranting coverage, the future may tell a different story.  As scientific evidence continues to build, what may not prove worthy of coverage today may evolve into worthy coverage tomorrow.  To keep pace with today and tomorrow, you are best to rely on the experts to provide evidence-based recommendations for evidence-based care.  For more information or assistance with dental trends, please contact your Cowan Benefits Consultant.