Teeth are nice to have. But those pearly whites need regular maintenance. And sometimes they need extensive and expensive repairs. Preventative cleanings and dental care can be a costly endeavor, especially if you don’t have employee benefits.

If your health plan includes dental coverage it helps ease the cost of everything from fillings to root canals and x-rays. It’s also a great way to encourage you to keep up with regular preventative care to avoid bigger issues or dental emergencies.

It’s not just about your teeth. Oral hygiene plays a significant role in an individual’s overall health. So. what does it do?

Reduces the Risk of Disease
Good oral health can reduce the risk of diseases like endocarditis, stroke and heart disease. Studies have found people with gum disease have ‘two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular events.’

Reduces Cancer Risk
Research found the progression of gum disease, periodontitis, can play a part in the onset of pancreatic cancer. Periodontitis damages the tissue around your teeth and the bacteria that causes it can be dangerous. Another study found adults with poor oral health were more likely to get an oral virus that can cause human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cancer.

Reduces the Risk of Dementia
It’s estimated that around 40 million people are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia worldwide. Research has found that a species of bacteria that can form in the mouth can travel to the brain and destroy nerve cells, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

Stops Bad Breath
You can always opt for gum or mints to hide the stink, but one of the best ways to avoid it is by practising good oral hygiene! When you skip brushing or flossing after eating, food particles get stuck in your mouth and that food creates odours. Even when you’re not eating, if you don’t brush or floss, a sticky film of bacteria builds up on your teeth (plaque) which can cause odours.

Gives You Confidence
Beyond the physical health benefits of keeping a healthy mouth, dental health can also give a boost to your confidence and overall well-being. If you have tooth decay, loss, or discolouration – it can make you self-conscious.

What you can Do. Tips for Good Oral Hygiene

Get Regular Check-Ups and Cleanings
An annual exam by your dentist, which includes x-rays, is recommended. For most people two visits a year is ideal for preventative hygiene appointments.

Protect your smile

  • Eat a balanced and nutritious diet low in sugar with lots of fruits and veggies
  • Smoking and other tobacco use are horrible for your oral health so avoid these
  • Avoid alcohol because it’s linked to many oral health issues
  • Brush at least twice a day or after meals for at least two minutes. Don’t forget your tongue
  • Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or even better, an electric toothbrush
  • If you want to add a mouthwash, Listerine is recognized by the Canadian Dental Association to kill bacteria and freshen your breath
  • Floss at least once a day to get the spots your toothbrush may miss
Making Sure You’re Covered

A trip to the dentist can be expensive, even just for a basic cleaning and check-up. If you need more extensive work done, it can add up fast. And without dental coverage, you may even consider putting off dental work because of the cost.

Some 25 million Canadians, representing 80 per cent of working families, have coverage under extended health insurance. This coverage helps with dental and prescription drugs, hospital, and medical expenses not included under provincial health plans. And there are programs across the country to help those with special circumstances or who qualify for reduced-fee care.

But most Canadians without insurance are on their own. That means they need to find a way to pay. And it’s quite the expense, especially for those who can’t afford it. And there are millions of Canadians in that category. Canadians spend about $12 billion per year on dental services, but six million people annually avoid dentists because of costs, said a 2014 report by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

GMS offers dental coverage with our health insurance plans. It’s built into our Replacement Health plans and is available to add on to our three Personal Health plans at any time. Plans include coverage for cleanings, x-rays, fillings, polishing, dentures, bridges, crowns and more. Learn more today!