More than a quarter of adults in the United States are insecure about their oral health, according to a survey from Cigna. The poll of 1,000 adults age 18 and older also found a correlation between routine dental care and self-confidence, with 75% of people who visit the dentist at least twice a year reporting very good self-confidence.
Additionally, the survey found a generational divide, with 74% of gen Z respondents saying their oral health could be improved, compared to 50% of baby boomer and older generations. Younger generations also are more likely to associate oral health with confidence and social comfort, yet older generations visit the dentist more frequently.
Obstacles to maintaining oral care also came up in the survey. Work schedules and difficulty getting to the dentist’s office were cited as the top challenges among those who found dental visits inconvenient. Many respondents also expressed a desire for on-site dental appointments at the workplace and virtual visits, predominantly among millennials and gen Z.
Oral health impacts careers as well. More than 21% of the people surveyed said they felt less confident about job interviews because of their smile or the state of their oral health, with 12% believing that their smile or oral health held them back from getting a job or a promotion.
The majority of respondents thought they could do better, too, with 63% saying they could benefit from improvements in their oral health, and 58% saying their smile could be improved. Younger generations focused more on their appearance than their oral health, including discoloration and straightening as chief concerns.
The Cigna Dental Health Connect suite of clinical programs is designed to help employers provide meaningful dental care services tailored for their workforce. It aims to improve whole person health through convenient access to oral care and reducing the risk of complications stemming from oral health disease, including:
- Onsite care: Cigna brings in-network dental providers right to the workplace to make checkups and cleanings more convenient.
- Dental outreach program: Cigna engages employees who have a chronic health condition associated with gum disease and who have not seen a dentist in more than seven months to help them stay on top of their preventive care and avoid complications with their medical condition.
- Safe prescribing measures: Cigna works with dental providers through monitoring, coaching, and safe prescribing protocols, helping to protect employees from misuse, addiction, and overdose.
- Chronic condition support: For employees with certain chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease, or for those who are pregnant, the Cigna Dental Oral Health Integration Program offers reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs for certain dental services to reduce the impact gum disease can have on their condition.
“Cigna Dental Health Connect wraps our customers in care through a model that provides convenient preventive dental care solutions, proactively intervenes, and ensures access to high-quality dental care,” said Dr. Cary Sun, Cigna’s chief dental officer. “Through this program, we are empowering all our customers to improve their oral health and hopefully live more confidently every day.”