Worksite Wellness

A Reason to Smile: Dental Wellness for Corporate Wellness

Dental Health

Corporate wellness is the result of a commitment to personal wellness, or: The biggest health benefits are often the product of the least costly investments, of investment in a product, too, in which acts of self-care become everyday habits; in which people habituate themselves to taking better care of themselves, be it exercising or eating a nutritious diet or brushing their teeth, or knowing how to clean and care for their teeth with less effort to achieve the most efficacious results.


Wellness of this kind is more than cosmetic, despite the sparkle of a person’s smile.


Wellness of this kind is reason to smile because of what we can see for ourselves: the absence of plaque or tartar, the banishment (upon close inspection) of bacteria and inflammation, the erasure of abscesses, a reduction in the need for caps, crowns, bonding, and veneers.


Wellness of this kind is reason for companies to smile, too, because it lowers the price of dental insurance. The reason is visible by virtue of what a worker holds in his hand: a tooth brush like no other.


I know of what I speak not only because of my career as a scientist and specialist in the manufacture and sale of a specific type of dental equipment, but also because of my own experiences of having sat in that chair, the dentist’s chair, which reclines but offers littleor no relaxation.


To sit in that chair for oral surgery is to sit out the ensuing days or weeks at home, either in pain or on painkillers, because of root canal treatment, gum scraping or bone grafting, implants, or tooth extractions.


To get a reprieve from going to the chair, except for checkups and cleaning, my advice is simple: Get the right toothbrush.


Take a look at the J-shaped head on the toothbrush by Encompass, so as to understand how smart product design increases individual compliance. (For seniors, caregivers, and people with motor difficulties, compliance is an issue—an issue of great consequence, and possibly grave consequences—because it is hard to use a conventional toothbrush. The act itself is a hardship for the arthritic, ailing, or just plain absentminded.)


Think of Encompass, then, as an all-encompassing metaphor for personal health and corporate wellness.


Think, also, about how much money companies spend on wellness programs. Think about how much money companies can save if they invest in a set of goods to accomplish a specific good, such as showing workers how to work less strenuously but more successfully when brushing their death.


Think about how much additional money companies will have to spend if they do not change their focus.


The focus should be on dental health because it is a preventive measure.


Prevention is proactive, in contrast to the reactive nature of the practice of medicine.That is to say, it is more expensive to treat symptoms than diseases; it is more common to treat the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle rather than thecause of a chronic or curable condition; it is a violation of common sense to alleviate symptoms without addressing—without telling patients about—the risk of complications.


Prevention must, therefore, start by putting a stop to cavalier notions about tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.


To begin, companies must show workers the how and why of exercising good dental hygiene. The former is demonstrative: It is a video or live presentation of how to use a toothbrush, an example of showing people how a change in product design can change their dental health for thebetter.


The latter is an act of telling, of emphasizing the dangers of not practicing or maintaining good dental hygiene.The dangers are several and severe, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, bone loss, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


The dangers are real, no matter how much some may want to believe otherwise. The dangers increase, as do the costs to treat them, until the overall price is too high to pay, the burden too onerous to bear, the hardship too overwhelming to meet.


What happens next is calamitous to the lives and livelihoods of workers. If I sound overly alarmist or too ready to sound the false alarm of imminent danger, please note the following: I am conservative in my warnings, conscious of my choice in words, and conscientious about substantiating my warnings.


In other words, using the right toothbrush matters—a lot.


The facts prove this point, as poor dental hygiene can quickly impoverish employers and workers with medical, hospital, and insurance bills. The fact is:Indifference is not an option.


Indifference is the willful suspension of disbelief, in spite of what employers should know and outsiders can see for themselves: rot—rotten teeth—whose roots belong as much to the body as they do the mind; whose roots constitute a mindset about the failure to treat oral health with the seriousness it deserves; whose roots extend from the office to the home, reinforcing the wrong attitude about dental hygiene and moral health.


Remember, too, our duty to be stewards of wellness.


We cannot afford to abandon our duty. Not when we can treat minor problems before they become major headaches—toothaches!—that threaten to bankrupt employers. Not when we have more than enough evidence to make our point. Not when we the tools (and brushes) to clarify our point, that tooth brushing is an act of prevention.


Let us do our duty, furthering the cause of wellness and improving the health of workers nationwide.


Let us go forward with the resolve necessary to succeed, inspiring others to do likewise.


Let us fulfill our duty.



Learn about how you can become a Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist→