Three Ways to Make 2020 Your Healthiest Year Yet

By John Maples

President and CEO, Delta Dental of Illinois

If your New Year’s resolution includes taking better care of your health, a visit to the dentist may be just as important as a visit to the gym.

That’s because there’s a direct connection between your oral and overall health. Your mouth provides clues about what’s happening in the rest of your body. It can even be the first place that signs of problems such as diabetes or heart disease show up.

Delta Dental of Illinois recommends three ways for you to make this your healthiest year yet:

  1. Be proactive about your health.

Make a plan to take care of your health with steps that include getting an annual physical exam, establishing an exercise routine and scheduling regular visits with your dentist and optometrist. By monitoring and taking care of your health, small issues can be identified and addressed before they potentially become more severe.

The benefits of preventive dental care are measurable: Illinois adults who visit the dentist at least once a year are nearly four times more likely to describe their oral health as excellent. And those who say their oral health is excellent are more than twice as likely to say their physical well-being is very good or excellent as well. Yet more than a third (35%) of Illinoisans do not visit the dentist at least once a year.1

Most dental plans cover 100% of routine dental exams and cleanings. These checkups can help diagnose and treat problems before they potentially become more complex, and save you money. In fact, studies show that every dollar you spend on preventive care can save you significantly on more comprehensive care.

  1. Make daily healthy lifestyle choices.

A vast majority of Americans (92%) recognize that oral health is a crucial part of their overall health.2 Here are some ways to take better care of both:

  • Reduce stress with exercise and meditation. Beyond the physical benefits, this makes it less likely you’ll have oral health problems related to stress such as teeth grinding, mouth sores and gum disease.
  • Choose a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and dairy. This is not only good for your body — but for a healthy smile, too.
  • Select healthy drinks. Drinking fluoridated tap water instead of juice, soda and sports drinks can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Lower your sugar intake. This can help with weight loss and decrease your risk of both heart disease3 and cavities.
  • Quit smoking and using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. This lowers your risk of oral cancer and can save your life.
  • And don’t forget the basics. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit the dentist regularly. While most Illinoisans brush twice a day, almost two-thirds (64%) admit to skipping a brushing at least once a month.4

  1. Knowledge is power.

Take the time to understand more about your health, dental and vision benefits at the beginning of the year, so you’re not caught off guard if the unexpected happens. Learn who to call in a medical or dental emergency, and how to stay in network to get the best insurance coverage and discounts. If you have dental coverage, you are 58% more likely to visit the dentist each year.5  Schedule preventive checkups to get the care and information you need, protect your pocketbook and maximize your benefits.

Need help? Your physician, dentist and benefits administrator are here to help make 2020 your healthiest year yet.

1 2018 Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey

2 2019 Delta Dental Plans Association Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey

3 Harvard Medical School,

4,5 2018 Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey