Your smile says a lot. It’s a window into your mood. It shows confidence. But did you know it can hold clues about your health? More than 90% of systemic diseases — like diabetes and high blood pressure — can have symptoms that show up in the mouth.1 That’s why regular visits to the dentist are important!
Below, we’ll explain how dental health affects your overall well-being. You’ll learn about getting preventive dental care at little or no cost to you. And we’ll help you brush up on ways to keep your smile healthy.
Time for a checkup?
Call your dentist to make an appointment!
Why dental health matters
Visiting the dentist is key to good oral health. But the benefits extend beyond your mouth! A healthy smile plays an important role in how you feel — both physically and mentally. More than 9 out of 10 adults agree that regular dental visits help keep them healthy. And more than 8 out of 10 believe that straight, bright teeth helps a person get ahead in life.3
Here are just a few of the reasons why dental health matters.
Protects your heart health.
Several studies show that gum disease is associated with heart disease.4 And some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause. Oral bacteria also increases the risk of endocarditis — an infection of the inner lining of your heart.5 By keeping your mouth healthy, you’ll help keep your heart healthy as well.
Lowers diabetes risks.
If you have diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for gum disease and other oral problems. In fact, more than 1 out of 5 diabetics have gum disease.6 It’s often more severe and more frequent — and makes it harder to control your blood sugar.5 That’s why the American Diabetes Association recommends getting a dental checkup every six months.7
Supports a healthy pregnancy.
Severe gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.5
Boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Gum disease can cause bad breath and tooth loss, which affects a person’s self-image and confidence level. One-quarter of adults avoid smiling due to the condition of their teeth — and nearly one-third say life in general is less satisfying for the same reason.3 That’s why good oral health supports a good quality of life.
Take a bite out of health care costs
A recent report found that people with heart disease and diabetes who treated their gum disease had 20% to 40% lower health care costs — and fewer hospital stays.2
How to use your dental benefits
Seven in 10 North Carolina adults cite cost as a reason they haven’t been to the dentist in the last year.8 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) wants you to have a healthy smile. That’s why our Dental Blue® plans make preventive care affordable.
Here are some benefit highlights:9
- Preventive care covered at little or no cost to you:
- If you have the Dental Blue PreferredSM Balanced Plan, in-network preventive care is covered at 85%. You pay just 15% of the cost.
- For all other Dental Blue plans, preventive care is covered at 100%. You pay nothing out of pocket.
- No waiting period for preventive services: You can get a checkup even if you just joined the plan.
- Number of checkups and cleanings covered:
- If you have the Dental Blue SelectSM Standard Plan, one checkup and cleaning is covered each benefit period.
- For all other Dental Blue plans, two checkups and cleanings are covered each benefit period.
- No deductible for preventive services: That means more out-of-pocket savings for you!
- If you have a Dental Blue Select plan, there’s a lifetime deductible of $100. The first time you use the plan, you’ll pay that deductible for any covered service — including preventive care.
Which plan do I have?
Most Dental Blue plans are listed on your Blue Cross NC medical ID card. If you have a separate dental ID card, you’ll find the plan name there.
What you can do now
You play a big role when it comes to your dental health. So, take good care of your smile with these four tips from the American Dental Association.10
Practice healthy habits.
In-between visits to the dentist, you’re in charge of your dental health at home! Brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily are the best ways to fight tooth decay and gum disease. Be sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months (sooner if the bristles are frayed).
Build a relationship.
Seeing your dentist regularly helps spot problems early on. It’s often much easier to treat gum disease when it’s still reversible or a cavity when it’s still small. And that can save you time and money! If you don’t have a regular dentist, we’ll help you find one in your area.
Keep your dentist in the loop.
Oral health supports your overall health. So, your dentist plays a vital role in your health care team. Let them know about any changes to your health or medicines — just like you’d do with your primary doctor.
While your dentist is part of your health care team — you are the captain of that team! So, speak up if you have questions about oral health or a procedure. Ask your dentist to explain the treatment plan step-by-step. Make sure you’re clear on what to do at home, too.
For more tips, check out www.mouthhealthy.org. And don’t forget to call your dentist to schedule your next preventive exam. As you’ve seen, a healthy smile is worth it.
Until next time, take good care!
1 “Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health.” Academy of General Dentistry. Online: www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=O&iid=320&aid=1289 (accessed April 2018).
2 Jeffcoat, Marjorie K., et al. "Impact of periodontal therapy on general health: evidence from insurance data for five systemic conditions." American Journal of Preventive Medicine 47.2 (2014): 166-174.
3 “Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States.” American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Online: www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/oral-health-and-well-being (accessed April 2018).
4 “Gum Disease and Heart Disease.” American Academy of Periodontology. Online: www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-heart-disease (accessed April 2018).
5 “Oral health: A window to your overall health.” Mayo Clinic. Online: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 (accessed April 2018).
6 “Diabetes and Your Smile.” American Dental Association. Online: www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diabetes (accessed April 2018).
7 “Diabetes and Oral Health Problems.” American Diabetes Association. Online: www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/oral-health-and-hygiene/diabetes-and-oral-health.html (accessed April 2018).
8 “Oral Health and Well-Being in North Carolina.” American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Online: www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute/oral-health-and-well-being/North-Carolina-facts (accessed April 2018).
9 On most standard dental plans and based on Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina allowable schedule. Limitations may apply. Refer to your benefit booklet for details.
10 “Your Top 9 Questions About Going to the Dentist—Answered!” American Dental Association. Online: www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist (accessed April 2018)