How much does oral health impact wellness including self-esteem? Turns out, a lot.
A new Cigna survey [PDF]1 found that more than 25 percent of American adults are insecure about their oral health. The study revealed an important correlation between routine dental care and self-confidence – 75 percent of individuals who visit the dentist regularly (at least twice per year) report very good self-confidence.
The recent survey fielded by M/A/R/C® Research of 1,000 U.S. adults at least 18 years old also revealed a generational divide in oral health perceptions and dental care. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Gen Z say their oral health could be improved as compared with only half of (50%) of Baby Boomers or older generations. Younger generations are also more likely to associate oral health with confidence and social comfort, yet older generations visit the dentist more frequently.
“At Cigna, we are continually examining the intrinsic connection between body and mind and this survey clearly confirms oral health has an impact on self-esteem,” said Fred Scardellette, vice president of dental and vision business at Cigna. “Our goal is to help our customers live their healthiest and most vital lives, which correlates to how our customers think and feel about themselves. Every day, our team of dental experts are accelerating innovation to make dental care more personal, convenient and affordable for our customers.”
The survey also uncovered obstacles to maintaining oral care. Work schedules and difficulty getting to the dentist’s office were cited as the top challenges among those who the dentist inconvenient. The data also revealed the desire for on-site dental appointments at the workplace and virtual visits, predominantly among Millennials and Gen Z.
How Employers Can Make a Difference
The Cigna Dental Health Connect™ solution is a suite of clinical programs designed to help employers provide meaningful dental care services tailored for their workforce, wherever they are in their health journey. These programs are aimed at improving whole person health through convenient access to oral care and reducing the risk of complications stemming from oral health disease include:
- Onsite care: Cigna brings in-network dental care providers right to the workplace making dental check-ups and cleanings more convenient than ever.
- Dental outreach program: Cigna engages employees with a chronic health condition that is associated with gum disease and have not seen a dentist in more than seven months to help them stay on top of their preventive care and avoid complications with their medical condition.
- Safe prescribing measures: Cigna works together with dental providers through monitoring, coaching and safe prescribing protocols, helping to protect employees from misuse, addiction and overdose.
- Chronic condition support: For employees with certain chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, or for those who are pregnant, the Cigna Dental Oral Health Integration Program®2 offers reimbursement of out of pocket costs for certain dental services to reduce the impact gum disease can have on their condition.
“Cigna Dental Health Connect wraps our customers in care through a model that provides convenient preventive dental care solutions, proactively intervenes, and ensures access to high quality dental care,” said Dr. Cary Sun, chief dental officer at Cigna. “Through this program, we are empowering all our customers to improve their oral health and hopefully, live more confidently every day.”
Read the complete survey findings: Behind the Smile – Oral Health Impacts Self-Esteem, Confidence and Employability [PDF]
Learn more about Cigna Dental Health Connect
1 Exploring the relationship between oral health and mental wellbeing. Cigna research study, October 2019.
2 Customers must enroll in the program prior to receiving dental services to be eligible for reimbursement. Reimbursement is applied to and subject to any applicable calendar year maximum. Contact a Cigna representative for program details.