06 October 2016

World Smile Day - look after those pearly whites!

World Smile Day (7th October 2016) is upon us but having the confidence to smile is hugely important to our self-confidence, defining our personality, our relationships with people and our success. This is why dental health is so important, and why employers who offer private health insurance are now being encouraged to include dental health as part of their benefits package.

Brett Hill, Managing Director at The Health Insurance Group explains, “For everybody, their smile is important to their self-confidence. It is an unfortunate fact that a high proportion of adults and children are embarrassed to smile because of the condition of their teeth, but oral health is also important in the prevention of mouth cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other major health threats.

“Companies are now seeing the benefits of adding a dental plan to their benefits package. As well as attracting and retaining staff through high perceived value benefits, businesses gain from fewer days lost, ensuring higher levels of productivity.”

Most people in work have to pay NHS dental charges - from £19.70 for a check-up and £53.90 for a filling, to £233.70 for crowns and other major treatment. A report in 2014 by YouGov[1] identified cost as the highest ranked reason (46%) for not having regular dental check-ups, followed by almost 30% who were worried that they might not be able to afford any treatment required. This means cost has overtaken fear, at 24%, as the reason most often given for not going to the dentist. Close behind, at 23%, is that they are unable to get an appointment with an NHS dentist where they live.  Dental insurance through work, whether contributory or even non-contributory, is very attractive.

Brett Hill, Managing Director at The Health Insurance Group points out, “we have seen take up by employees of up to 92% for dental insurance when it is offered in a menu of optional benefits. There is an obvious gain, the claims process is simple and staff can include their families, which is another big plus, usually with a good take up.”

The UK economy loses some £36 million each year due to poor oral health. The fact that 27% of adults only visit their dentist when they have a problem and 19% have delayed their treatment due to cost[2] means that chances for early intervention are lost and more extensive treatment is usually needed.

“Many employees who are signed up make regular claims on dental insurance, which means that it is viewed as good value by both employers and employees,” says Brett Hill. “We obviously help clients to find the best fit with a provider but we can also help with promotion of the scheme through their intranet and newsletters or even with brochures, where appropriate. In some instances, we are able to work with providers to find a dentist local to client's offices that staff can use, if they want to reduce time away from work, or find a dentist who will bill the provider directly so that staff do not have to pay the costs up front and then reclaim them.”

The fact that partners and children can be covered is viewed as important by The Health Insurance Group and its clients. A third of all children starting school have tooth decay and an NHS survey[3] found that around 20% of 12 to 15 year olds had experienced difficulty in eating in the previous three months, while around 50% reported that their daily life had been affected by dental problems in the same period. This is reflected in over 20% of parents taking time off work because of their child's oral health. Adding children to dental insurance cover is low cost and usually offers more flexible access to dentists to suit parents' schedules or tie in with their own visits.

[1] https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/08/27/cost-not-pain-barrier-dental-check-/
[2] http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/facts-figures/
[3] http://www.nhs.uk/news/2015/03March/Pages/are-half-of-childrens-teeth-rotten.aspx