Gum disease treatment cuts diabetic health costs

Got diabetes? Maybe you should see your dentist.

A new study reveals medical costs are actually lower for diabetes patients who get treatment for gum disease.

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat from the University of Pennsylvania—which conducted the study with United Concordia and Highmark Inc.—presented the findings to the American Association for Dental Research, a group of more than 2,500, at the annual meeting in Tampa, Fla.

“The study showed that periodontal treatment and ongoing maintenance is associated with a significant decrease in the cost of medical care for people with diabetes—in the amount of $1,800 per year,” said James Bramson, chief dental officer for United Concordia, in a press release. “The findings also showed that hospitalizations decreased by 33 percent and physician visits by 13 percent across the entire study population of diabetics when gum disease is treated and managed afterward.”

Findings related to pharmacy costs in the study population will be released in the near future.

Just last year, the CDC reported nearly 26 million adults and children had diabetes, twice as many as a decade earlier.

The study took three years to break down the numbers of nearly 2 million patients, and according to the release, "focused on determining if dental cleanings and/or treatment of gum disease would decrease the cost of medical care in patients who have diabetes.”

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