Encouraging others to be proactive about their oral health
Sponsored by Hawaii Dental Service
When we’re busy at work, our oral health probably isn’t the first thing we think about. That’s why Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) is launching its SmileWell Program for employers to encourage their employees to have a healthy smile. Hawaiian Electric Company was one of the first to implement the program.
HDS created SmileWell because good oral health can lead to good overall health. Your mouth is something you use every day. We use our mouths to communicate and share ideas, eat meals and more. In the workplace, we tend to forget about it, some even forget to see the dentist twice a year. As the oral health leader in Hawaii, HDS wants to show companies how a healthy smile can change the culture at work.
Kahala Howser with HDS explains that it all starts with the employees.
“If we see their employees aren’t going to the dentist for routine checkups, we try to understand the barriers to seeing a dentist,” she explains. “We tested this concept with a health-conscious local company, Hawaiian Electric Company, at their Downtown office with a component of SmileWell called SmileTalk, a program where we bring the dentist to them to talk story and answer any questions they have.”
Hawaiian Electric believes that health and wellness is an integral part of a sustainable future, and the company takes a holistic approach to support its employees with their well-being and promote positive, healthy behaviors.
“When HDS approached us and said they wanted to bring a couple of dentists in and see if our employees would be open to a one-on-one informal session, I thought it was a great idea as I could see the value of speaking with a dentist in a private, non-clinical setting,” says Wanya Ogata, manager of corporate health wellness at Hawaiian Electric.
After the event, many employees at Hawaiian Electric reported that they had a great experience while speaking with a dentist as they were able to get their questions answered about oral health habits, nutrition and even asked for recommendations for a dentist in their area.
“This concept would be great for employees who fear the dentist, but want to break that barrier and start on the pathway to good oral health,” Ogata says.
Howser emphasizes that SmileWell is based on the needs of the employer.
“We design a plan that will encourage them to be proactive about their oral health, hold SmileTalks, lunch and learns, and ultimately reward them for improving their smiles,” she says. “Our mission at HDS is to create a lifetime of healthy smiles for Hawaii families, and SmileWell starts at the place where parents spend most of their day: At work.”
Right now, SmileWell is being offered to employer groups who already offer HDS to their employees. It plans to expand certain features of SmileWell to all HDS members in 2020. For more information, you email KHowser@HawaiiDentalService.com.