Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: wellness (Page 1 of 4)

How dentists fight opioid addiction

There’s no shortage of issues confronting the country and the world today. Alongside COVID-19 and climate change, the opioid epidemic remains a major issue in the United States. Fortunately, there are steps that dentists can take to do their part to help combat addiction and abuse.

One of the simplest but most effective steps dentists can take involves prescribing alternatives to narcotics. Studies have found that a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen can be a more effective pain management tool than simply prescribing opioids.

As Dr. Daniel Croley, our Vice President of Network Development, says, “We ask that all dentists consider non-addictive pain management as their first choice. When narcotics are needed, only prescribe the lowest dosage and quantity needed to effectively manage your patients’ pain.”

In honor of National Recovery Month, Delta Dental has launched an informational campaign to encourage dentists to educate themselves and their staff about the opioid epidemic. This includes letters sent directly to dentists, educational blog posts on the topic and new opioid-focused material in webinars.

We also encourage dentists to:

  • Stay on top of the latest developments in pain management
  • Talk openly and honestly with patients about their history before prescribing opioids
  • Follow ADA guidelines, which include education about opioids, limits on prescriptions, and drug monitoring

In the words of Dr. Croley, “Together, we can stop the overprescription and abuse of opioids.”

Grin! offers employees a free and fun wellness resource

Encourage your employees to brighten their smiles — and their days — with Delta Dental’s fun, informative and free e-magazine: Grin!

Available in English and Spanish, this quarterly publication is full of useful and entertaining content, such as:

  • The latest news on dental care — including what to do during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Advice from experts
  • First looks at innovative technology
  • Fun features
  • Healthy recipes, and more

And because your employees’ dental health is strongly tied to their overall health, Grin! also explores how many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and depression, are related to dental care. In fact, you can learn how allergies and oral health are related in the recent summer issue.

See for yourself: Check out the latest edition of Grin! And it’s easy to subscribe. With just one click, you and your employees can receive all that Grin! has to offer, four times per year.

Healthy, happy employees are the key to a productive workplace, and Grin! can help. Why not get started today?

And if you do choose to subscribe to Grin!, be sure to download this free poster that you can use to promote this great resource to your employees.

6 strategies to ease employee stress and create a happier workplace

4-minute read

Stress is costly. From teeth grinding to high blood pressure and anxiety, our bodies often pay the price. Just reading this list of 50 common physical and mental symptoms of stress is stress-inducing itself! But the effects of stress go beyond health — it can even take a toll on your business. In fact, a recent study found that businesses lose billions in productivity due to employee stress.

Take a deep breath. We’re here to help you with proven strategies to help reduce stress in your workplace (and even have some fun)!

Harness the power of good (deeds).

Volunteering is one of the best ways to combat stress. Research shows that volunteering has many health benefits, including stress reduction.

Volunteering can also give your employees a sense of purpose and appreciation, strengthen relationships and even encourage exercise — all great ways to lower stress. One study even found that people who volunteered for at least 200 hours in a 12-month span were less likely to develop high blood pressure (a common symptom of stress) than non-volunteers.

If your company offers a volunteer time off (VTO) benefit, you can organize events and activities that encourage employees to attend together. If VTO isn’t an option, you can share local volunteer events with employees that happen outside of work hours. Bonus points for including volunteer events with dogs (keep reading to see why)!

Fight stress with fitness.

Exercise is a stress triple threat. Why?

  • Increased happiness: Exercise boosts the body’s natural production of endorphins. This perky chemical has been proven to boost happiness.
  • Positive outlook: Concentrating on your body’s movements — like achieving that perfect push-up form — helps shift focus from life’s stressors to a calm, more positive energy.
  • Improved sleep: Various studies suggest that exercise improves sleep. Poor sleep can increase cortisol levels, which is often referred to as the stress hormone

To get employees moving, try organizing an intramural-style team sport or sponsoring a race for your company. If you’re not sure what types of activities your employees might enjoy, send out a survey to find out.

Laugh it off! (And no, we don’t mean ignore it.)

Stress is no laughing matter. Or, is it? Are you familiar with the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine?” When it comes to fighting stress, laughter may be an effective remedy. Studies show that laughter can relieve some of the physical symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and muscle relaxation. Over time, “positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Don’t worry — there’s no need to host a daily comedy hour at the office. But taking a moment to share a funny story or keeping a joke book on hand may be a good idea. To really get the workplace rolling, why not try a group outing to a laughing yoga class? In addition to getting the giggles, you get a wonderful opportunity to encourage employee bonding and create endorphins.

Create a serene space.

Is there a big deadline coming up? Holding a wellness fair soon? Consider contacting a local pet therapy organization that can bring in dogs to interact with employees. Multiple studies suggest that dogs can lower our stress levels — oftentimes even more than a supportive friend according to new research. Plus, dogs can help fulfill our longing for human touch, which can boost dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin (aka our feel good hormones).

Let’s start with color. For centuries, people across the globe have believed that certain colors can affect mood. In 2003, a Minnesota State University study actually found that subjects placed in a red room gave higher stress ratings than subjects placed in green and white rooms. Why not pick up a paint brush or add some calming accents of green and white to your office space?

Beyond color, research continues to show that exposure to nature can alter mood. A 2018 study even suggests that just visiting a natural environment can reduce stress levels. If your office is in a natural setting, encourage employees to get out and enjoy it during breaks. If a concrete jungle is your landscape, consider organizing nature walks for employees at a nearby park. Adding plants and nature-inspired artwork may also help!  

Send in the dogs.

Not only can these furry visitors perk up your workplace, but they can also help employees feel more comfortable connecting with each other. Win-win!

Check stress levels and offer support.

With the rise of telecommuting, face-to-face interaction with employees might not be as regular as it was in the past. However, that doesn’t mean we should be less connected! Sometimes just acknowledging employee stress can provide relief. Remind managers to check in on employees’ stress levels regularly, not just when there’s a big project on the line.

In addition to using the stress-busting strategies in this article, encourage managers to stay current on the types of services your company offers to help cope with stress. And, if it seems like employees are feeling more than situational stress, it may be time for them to seek professional help.


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Thanks for brightening our year

Wishing you and your enrollees your healthiest, happiest holiday season yet.

While your enrollees’ smiles are our top priority, it’s your support that keeps us smiling in return. We’re so grateful for clients like you who make our entire year merry and bright!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Word of Mouth in 2018, and we can’t wait to bring you even more engaging content next year. Remember, this blog is for you – so we’d love your suggestions on topics you’d like to hear more about. And if you’re not already, be sure to subscribe to Word of Mouth so you never miss out on helpful articles, tips and industry news.

Cheers to the New Year! We’re looking forward to serving you in 2019.

The cost correlation: Dental benefits may lower businesses’ overall health spend

4-minute read

It’s common knowledge that oral health is linked to overall well-being. What might surprise you, however, is the significant impact your employees’ oral health status can have on your business’s total health care budget. In fact, of the top 10 health conditions costing employers the most, five are linked to oral health.*

#1 Diabetes
Topping the list of costliest employer conditions is diabetes, affecting nearly one in 10 Americans. Not only do diabetics face a higher than normal risk for developing oral health problems like periodontal disease and oral infections, but these problems may be more severe for a diabetic person. It’s not all bad news though. It’s been suggested that treating gum disease can help control blood sugar in diabetic patients, which may slow disease progression. And, receiving routine dentist cleanings and practicing healthy oral hygiene habits may help to lower HbA1c levels (average blood glucose over time).

#2 Cancer
Oral cancer is likely not the first cancer that comes to mind for most of us. Yet, head and neck cancers (85% of which are oral) account for approximately $3.2 billion in treatment costs each year.

Oftentimes, the early symptoms of oral cancers go unnoticed by patients, making them particularly dangerous. That’s why regular dental exams are so important. Dentists and dental hygienists may be able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancers when they’re still in the early or even pre-cancerous stages.

#5 Heart disease

The dental industry has been aware of the correlation between heart disease and oral health for years, and supporting evidence continues to emerge. While we still can’t say the relationship between oral health and heart health is causal, new research suggests that poor dental health, including gum disease and infrequent toothbrushing, may be a risk factor for heart disease.

#6 Hypertension
Recently, an association between hypertension and dental health has also been found — specifically blood pressure control. A new study showed that those with gum disease were less likely to respond to hypertension medications than those with good oral health. The authors of this study go on to say that “those with high blood pressure might benefit from regular dental care”.

#10 High-risk pregnancy
Compared to the average employer medical costs for a healthy, full-term baby, the costs for premature and/or low-birth weight babies is nearly 12 times as much. While the relationship between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes is still being explored, we do know that a mother’s health can impact her baby — and oral health is no exception. Research suggests that expectant mothers with poor oral health may face higher risks of pre-term delivery and of passing disease-causing bacteria to their child. This makes it even more important for expectant mothers to receive regular dental exams during pregnancy. The dentist can evaluate the individual needs of the mother and may even recommend an additional cleaning.

How can dental benefits help?

Regular dental care can help manage certain health conditions and even detect some early, which can help prevent costly medical expenses in the future.

However, your dental benefits may be able to do more than cover routine dental care to improve wellness. Ask these questions about your dental benefits to find out how they can boost overall health and your business’s bottom line:

  • Is there extra support for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease? Providing additional coverage to enrollees with certain medical conditions may prevent or halt the progression of disease, which can help you manage dental and medical expenses down the road.
  • How can I track employees’ oral health status? Do I receive useful reports? Regular reporting on your enrollees’ oral health habits can highlight where your group is doing well and help identify areas where enrollees can improve oral health, and in turn, improve overall health.
  • How is oral health supported during pregnancy? Are additional cleanings covered? An extra cleaning during pregnancy can lead to healthier babies and may lower certain pregnancy risks associated with oral bacteria.
  • Are oral health and wellness resources readily available? Your enrollees may not even be aware of the impact oral health can have on their overall health. Carriers who provide valuable wellness resources can help encourage enrollees to be active participants in their oral health.

 

For more news and dental insights for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses, subscribe to Word of Mouth.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

 

*The oral health information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice. Patients should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning oral health.

How to prevent your business from “falling back” with daylight saving

2-minute read

Most of us look forward to snoozing an extra hour once a year when daylight-saving time ends. However, for many people, that additional hour of sleep is where the positive effects stop. When you add the season’s colder temps and bitter weather to its darker, shorter days, you’ve got the perfect recipe for the blues. With increasing evidence that employee happiness is tied to productivity, that’s probably a recipe your business wants to avoid. That’s why we’ve gathered these tips to help your workforce stay happy and healthy in the coming months.*

Get moving.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — physical activities help create endorphins, which are proven to boost happiness.

  • Organizing company sports leagues is a great way to get employees’ blood pumping, and you get the bonus of team building! Try introducing your employees to a unique sport like curling or broomball. For those who don’t like to compete, check out group fitness classes offered in your area.
  • There are also plenty of small steps — from taking the stairs to parking in the back forty — you can encourage to increase physical activity during the workday. Check out our previous article for advice on how to add more mobility in the office.

Build workplace friendships.
Friendships can be a powerful force when it comes to increasing happiness and productivity, especially workplace bonds. Find ways to help bring your employees together in and outside of the office. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Keep tabs on local events and organize a monthly outing
  • Start a book club that meets during lunchtime
  • Provide board games for your break/lunch rooms
  • Find volunteer events employees can sign up for together
  • Pair up new hires with a buddy or two with common interests

Take advantage of the sun (when it’s out).
The sun can be harder to find in the cooler months, but that makes it even more important to catch rays when you can. Sunlight could increase the brain’s production of serotonin, which is associated with mood boosting benefits. In fact, a lack of sun exposure has been linked to major seasonal depression. To help combat the darkness at the office, keep the blinds open and arrange work stations to receive as much natural light as possible. If it’s a particularly sunny day, encourage employees to get out for their lunchbreak to soak up some extra sun.

Don’t wait to seek help.
It’s estimated that 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often referred to as the winter blues. If employees start to feel symptoms of SAD or major depression, urge them to seek professional help. The good news: There are several treatment options available, and a doctor can help find the right path to recovery.

 

For more news and dental insights for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses, subscribe to Word of Mouth.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

 

*These tips are not meant to be taken as medical advice or as treatment for depression. If you or your employees are suffering from a mental illness, please seek professional help.

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