HARTFORD, Conn.--Aetna and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine conducted a study that found a relationship between periodontal (gum) treatment and the overall cost of care for several chronic diseases.
The results of the study, which included approximately 145,000 Aetna members with continuous dental and medical coverage, indicate that periodontal care appears to have a positive effect on the cost of medical care, with earlier treatment resulting in lower medical costs for members with diabetes, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease or stroke.
"The results of this study are encouraging because they show the connection between good oral health and overall well-being, as well as
illustrating that the early treatment of periodontal disease can help reduce medical costs for these conditions," said Pat Farrell, head of Aetna Specialty Products.
"We believe that in addition to lowering medical costs, we are also helping to improve members' quality of life. We will continue to work with Columbia to demonstrate ways that dental care can improve the overall health of our members."
"Systemic health is often associated with the condition of the oral cavity in that many systemic diseases manifest in the mouth; however, less is known about the connection between a diseased periodontium and the impact it may have on systemic health," said David A. Albert, D.D.S., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Dentistry at Columbia University. "The association between periodontal infection and systemic health has important implications for the treatment and management of patients."
The retrospective study of claims data included an examination of
approximately 145,000 members participating in Aetna PPO plans with
continuous dental and medical coverage over two years. Periodontal care appeared to have a positive effect on the cost of medical care in this two-year study (2001, 2002), with earlier treatment resulting in lower medical costs for diabetes, CVD and CAD.
In addition, the actual cost of medical care for patients with diabetes and CAD was found to be lower if they received periodontal care in the first year of the study.