It has been said that nothing you wear is more important than your smile. And while the more fashion conscious might disagree with that statement, it rings increasingly true among today’s workforce.
In recent years, there has been growing interest – particularly among younger generations – in dental treatments designed to improve the appearance of your smile. Experts have cited the media, both social and mainstream, as an influencing factor in this trend given the proliferation of perfect smiles and pearly-white teeth on platforms such as Instagram and popular TV shows such as Love Island.
In this context, where oral health and dental hygiene are being given increasing prioritisation, dental cover is becoming an ever-more appealing employee benefit. Here, we look at some of the key facts and figures underpinning this trend and outline how employers can integrate offerings that keep their workforce smiling.
Dental health and worker well-being
Oral health can correlate directly with an employee’s physical or mental state, which in turn can impact performance at work. Multiple studies have shown how happier, healthier employees are more effective and have greater job satisfaction. By the same token, health issues, including dental problems, can lead to lost productivity and absence.
When it comes to dental problems, workers can be left experiencing acute pain or facing longer-term issues that require extensive treatment. Attending regular check-ups at the dentist is one of the crucial preventive measures designed to avoid such problems, but this was off the cards for many people when the pandemic enforced the implementation of social distancing measures. Indeed, in a nationwide study by the Oral Health Foundation, over half (55%) of adults admitted neglecting their teeth during lockdown.
The link between dental health and confidence
Covid-19 has been a trigger for changing attitudes as well as habits when it comes to our teeth. For example, the dramatic rise in the use of video conferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has, according to research, resulted in more than half (58%) of British adults changing the way they see their own smile, with a third (33%) reported to be more aware of the colour of their teeth and almost a quarter (25%) conscious about the alignment of their teeth.
For those left with negative feelings about their own smile, there can be a knock-on effect in terms of damage to self-confidence. Indeed, the majority of workers (58%) think that having bad teeth impairs their confidence both in the workplace and socially. This can manifest itself in feelings of discomfort or anxiety in certain work situations – particularly where face-to-face discussions with clients or colleagues are involved.
The link between dental health and self-confidence is not consistent among all workers, however. Delving deeper, the same research revealed the issue to be more acute for women, with around two-thirds saying poor oral health would affect their confidence compared with less than half (49%) of men.
In addition, more than two-thirds (69%) of 16-24-year-olds identified the link between bad teeth and poor confidence, highlighting that the youngest workers are most sensitive to the importance of a good smile. Dental professionals have expressed concern that this situation is contributing to growing numbers of young people putting their health at risk by attempting one of the many dangerous DIY dental ‘hacks’ published on social media platforms such as TikTok that claim to result in whiter teeth.
Overcoming the barrier of cost
One of the major reasons that people of all ages fail to adhere to their regular schedule of dental checks is the fear of ensuing costs. The support of employers can make a significant difference in this area, however, with 38% of adults saying they are more likely to go for a check-up if they had dental cover in place.
This underlines how highly employees are likely to appreciate and engage with the benefit of dental cover. Indeed, separate research has found that more than two thirds of employees (68%) are likely to participate in a plan offered by their employer, and this only falls to around half of eligible employees when the dental premium is fully employee-paid.
In a competitive market for talent, schemes such as dental cash plans can therefore provide a cost-effective route for employers to not only deliver a smile-inducing employee benefit, but also to help contribute to their workers’ overall health.
The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Health or any of its associated representatives shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.