Oral health, mortality, and smoker detection
Life insurers have long recognized the value of oral fluids for risk assessment through screening for HIV-1 and tobacco or drug use, but oral health itself is not routinely evaluated as part of the underwriting process. Oral health is recognized by the medical community as an important determinant of overall health, and is associated with other health conditions, socioeconomic indicators, and lifestyle behaviors that are risk factors for mortality. As such, dental health records may be a fertile source of data for life insurers.
In our recent paper, Munich Re Life US explores some of the relationships between oral health and overall health, the impact of poor oral health on mortality as mediated through smoking status, and new sources of underwriting data related to dental records, specifically the Tobacco Score from Sikka Software Corporation.