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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Workplace Health - Dental Health

Preventive oral health can stop the onset and progress of dental disease that might require complex and expensive dental care. According to the Canadian Dental Association (2004), regular dentist visits should minimize time lost from work due to dental emergencies.

Quick Facts:

  • The health of our mouth is affected by the foods we eat and drink, how well we clean our teeth, and other habits we have such as smoking.
  • Good oral health significantly contributes to ones comfort, health and self-esteem.
  • Prevention of dental disease is always better and cheaper than treatment..
  • The use of any tobacco substances can lead to serious oral and general health problems.

Impact on the workplace

Studies show that people with dental plans at work are more likely to see a dentist regularly1. Regular dentist visits may minimize time lost from work due to dental emergencies.

If an employee’s dental costs for his/her family are totally or partially covered by a dental plan, it may reduce his/her financial stress. Employers who provide health and dental benefits, are more likely to attract and retain top-notch employees2.

Making Positive Changes

  • Highlight dental hygiene during Dental Health month in April – encourage employees to visit the Ontario and Canadian Dental Associations web-sites regularly.
  • Inform employees about snacks that promote dental health (i.e. milk, fruit, nuts, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, cheese, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, raw vegetables, hard boiled eggs).
  • Encourage employees to:
    • Brush teeth carefully at least twice per day (preferably after breakfast and last thing at night). Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head that fits into all areas of the mouth.
    • Floss at least once each day.
    • Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid sweet foods/drinks, especially between meals.
    • Don’t smoke or use any form of tobacco. Be aware of the dangers of smokeless/spit tobacco.
    • Check gums regularly for signs of gum disease (red, puffy or tender gums; bleeding gums, persistent bad breath); see your dentist if any of these occur.
    • See the dental professional regularly – at least once every year for preventive check-ups and professional cleaning.

 Environmental Support

  • Ensure healthy food choices in cafeterias, vending machines, and at meetings/social functions.
  • Provide reasonable cost dental plans for employees and their families, ensuring the dental benefit plan has a preventive component.
  • Encourage staff to visit both Ontario www.oda.on.ca and Canadian Dental Associations www.cda-adc.ca websites regularly for more information.

Policy Considerations

  • Ensure a non-smoking work environment.
  • Permit employees to leave work for dental appointments.

For more information and policy guidance:

 
Date of creation: January 9, 2013
Last modified on: April 25, 2014

References

1Health Canada. (2010). Report on the findings of the oral health component of the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009. Retrieved from
www.fptdwg.ca/assets/PDF/CHMS/CHMS-E-tech.pdf.
2American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). (2009). AAPD Buyer’s Guide to Dental Benefits. Retrieved from
http://www.aapd.org/assets/1/7/BuyersGuide1.PDF.