Periodontitis has been linked to several more serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and complications in pregnancy, and now researchers have used that connection to show that treatment for periodontal disease can actually reduce health care costs. According to a recent Dental Tribune article, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were able to determine that individuals who were diagnosed with periodontitis, and another predetermined health condition, saved a significant amount of money every year by receiving treatment for their gum disease.
Researchers reviewed the insurance claims data from nearly 340,000 patients, all of whom were diagnosed with periodontitis and were either pregnant or had type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease or rheumatoid arthritis. After analysis, they found that those who were receiving periodontal treatment and suffering from type 2 diabetes were statistically associated with a decrease in annual medical costs of about 40%, or $2,840. For patients with cerebrovascular disease, the savings was approximately $5,681, or 41%. Those with coronary artery disease saved almost 11% ($1,090) and pregnant patients saved a whopping 74% ($2,433). In addition to the cost savings, a significant decrease in hospital admissions was also observed in some groups.
It isn’t a far stretch to conclude that spending the minimal amount of money to visit your dentist regularly, and perhaps receive treatment for gum disease, will actually save money in the long run for some patients. Additionally, researchers also concluded that “simple, noninvasive periodontal therapy may improve health outcomes in pregnancy and other systemic conditions.” And let’s not forget, gum disease, for many patients, is completely avoidable with proper dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time, coupled with regular flossing and visits to the dentist for exams and professional cleanings can be enough to prevent oral disease for many people.