Dental Health Issues among Workers Can Cost Businesses Billions

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dentist with a patient

Workplace absenteeism costs dollars–a lot of it. Circadian, a workforce solutions firm, even calls it a bottom-line killer.

The direct costs associated with absenteeism can vary according to position and job. On average, it could reach almost $4,000 per hourly-wage worker each year, according to the firm. Meanwhile, a company that employs at least 500 shift workers could lose a staggering $1 billion annually.

For this reason, many companies spend a lot of time looking into the root cause. One of the underrated ones is a dental health problem.

The Cost of an Oral Health Issue

People call in sick for many reasons: flu, asthma, colds, body pain, injuries, etc. Some have to skip work because of an oral health problem.

In a 2019 study, a toothache or a gum disease was responsible for as many as 27% of sickness absence cases in the workplace. They also accounted for about half of presenteeism. This is when workers could hardly function that they’re as good as not being there.

A worker who suffers from a toothache might have to leave work for at least two days. The average hourly wage in the United States is around $25. If you do the math, dental caries could cost a business a whopping $400 if the employee files for sick leave.

Wages, though, are not the only costs associated with absenteeism. So are the following:

  • Cost of worker replacement
  • Disengagement of other employees as they need to spend more time at work
  • Low productivity
  • Poor workplace efficiency

How Businesses Can Help Workers Improve Their Dental Health

Employees are the lifeblood of any business, and as such, the company needs to exert all efforts to support their health and well-being. By lowering their absenteeism, they can contribute more to the operations.

But how can companies do it? Here are two ideas:

1. Offer Health-Based Incentives

Under the law, businesses that have at least 50 full-time workers need to get a health insurance plan. However, even if they don’t, they can explore other options. For example, an affordable dental clinic can provide individual and corporate discounts.

The coverage of health insurance can vary depending on the provider and program. Businesses can choose that already include a dental package. If they can afford it, they can extend the coverage to the dependents of their workers.

Granted, health insurance isn’t the cheapest employee benefit, but the rewards can make it valuable. Not only does it reduce absenteeism, but it also helps keep top-notch workers.

In a 2018 survey by SHRM, an association for HR personnel, over 50% said they considered employer-sponsored health incentives as a factor on whether they stay at their present job. Over 40% claimed that health insurance influenced them in choosing their current work.

2. Improve the Stress Levels of the Employees

More studies showed a close link between workplace stress and oral health problems. People who are anxious and burned out are more likely to grind their teeth, especially in the evening. It might eventually result in jaw pain.

Stress can also affect a person’s immune system, sleep quality, and even choices of food. All these can decrease their body’s ability to fight off pathogens, such as bacteria, that can cause oral infection.

Nowadays, many companies already have stress management programs to help their workers cope with job demands. However, the leading causes of stress among them include:

  • Job security
  • Workload
  • Workplace conflict

If the business can address all these, stress levels in the workplace can decline significantly that they might no longer need to spend a lot of money on management programs.

In the end, preventing oral health problems among employees can reduce absenteeism and help businesses stay on top of their game.

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