Millions of Americans consistently skip their annual trip to the dentist for a number of different reasons. Fear is definitely a common culprit, but the financial burden is actually the number one reason given for avoiding the trip. Many people do not carry dental insurance and it is unfortunately viewed as optional by individuals and insurers alike. That means that most, if not all, costs associated with visiting the dentist come directly out of the patient’s pocket. For some, that fact is enough to keep them away from the recommended bi-annual check-ups and professional cleanings, despite the mounting evidence that supports the theory that oral health and overall wellness are very closely connected. But did you ever stop to think that spending the minimal money on preventative dentistry could end up saving you thousands of dollars down the road? Thanks to a new research study, the data has been analyzed and that very fact has now been proven.
The study was conducted out of the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with dental insurance provider, United Concordia, and recently reported on in a Dental Tribune article. Between the years of 2005 and 2009, nearly 340,000 participants were recruited for the study. Each participant had been diagnosed with periodontal disease and one or more of the following chronic systemic diseases: Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cerebrovascular disease, and pregnancy. The insurance data from each individual was reviewed and participants were put into two categories, those who had received periodontal treatment and those who had not. Researchers found a significant correlation between medical costs and hospitalizations and periodontal treatment. Those who were treated were found to have had the following decreases in annual medical costs and hospital admissions rates, respectively:
- Type 2 diabetes: 40.2% ($2,480), 39.4% fewer admissions
- Cerebrovascular disease: 40.9% ($5,681), 21.2% fewer admissions
- Coronary heart disease: 10.7% ($1,090), 28.6% fewer admissions
- Pregnancy: 73.7% ($2,433), NA
- Rheumatoid arthritis: No change in annual medical costs or hospital admissions was observed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50% of all American adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. The disease is more common in men and those living below the federal poverty level. Current smokers and individuals with less than a high school education are also at higher risk. While financial concerns are not to be taken lightly, spending the much smaller amount on annual dental cleanings and check-ups could end up saving you thousands of dollars this year alone. Over the course of a lifetime, the savings becomes extremely significant. Before you choose to ignore the postcard, email or phone call reminding you that it’s time for your check-up, consider this evidence, and decide for yourself if you can afford to keep putting it off.
Written by Mark Paulsort
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