Can perio treatment reduce your health care costs?

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the health of your bank account could be affected by the health of your gums. A recent ADA Health Policy Institute study found a “statistically significant association” between periodontal care and overall health care costs among people newly diagnosed with diabetes.

Health economists Kamyar Nasseh, Ph.D., and Marko Vujicic, Ph.D. published their findings in an article in January in the highly regarded Health Economics journal*. They evaluated data from over 15,000 adults (ages 18-64) that were newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The patient data was divided into two groups: those that began periodontal treatment after diagnosis, and those that did not. They then examined the overall health care costs for two years, with controls for other factors included.

The results were significant: those that began periodontal treatment following diagnosis saw an average reduction of nearly $1,800 over a two-year period, compared to those that did not begin treatment. 

This is not the first study of its kind. What makes this study unique is that the data used was pulled from integrated medical, pharmacy, AND dental claims databases. In addition they used “econometric” techniques as controls for other contributing factors. Econometrics is described as the branch of economics that aims to give empirical content to economic relations.

“The health care landscape is shifting dramatically in the U.S. and the dental care sector is part of this,” added Dr. Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute. “With health care moving toward integrated models with much more provider collaboration, we knew it was important to shed light on the benefits of oral health beyond the mouth.”

Although the study contained a number of limitations due to issues of diagnostic coding in dentistry, it does lend support to findings regarding the relationship between type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease, and associated health care costs.

To read the full article, click here.

*Nasseh, K., Vujicic, M., and Glick, M. (2016) The Relationship between Periodontal Interventions and Healthcare Costs and Utilization. Evidence from an Integrated Dental, Medical, and Pharmacy Commercial Claims Database. Health Econ., doi: 10.1002/hec.3316.