Older woman checks her blood sugar with a glucose meterOral health and overall health are closely linked. Oral diseases can lead to poor overall health. Gum disease in particular can be very bad for your health. Gum disease leads to chronic inflammation, and it’s been linked to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. 

In fact, a new study looks at this crossover effect in very concrete terms: its impact on your medical costs. Using diabetics as their example, the study showed that people with diabetes could reduce their lifetime medical expenses by an average of $5900 if they treat gum disease. 

Statistical Analysis

In this study, published in March in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers explored how more thorough gum disease treatment could benefit people with type 2 diabetes. Starting with data from the nationwide representative sample of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES), researchers also looked at several studies about the consequences of gum disease for people with type 2 diabetes and the benefits of treating gum disease

They estimate that increasing gum disease treatment could reduce the risk of:

  • Tooth loss by 34%
  • Nephropathy (kidney disease) by 21%
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) by 18%
  • Retinopathy (vision loss) by 18%

Combining the treatment costs for these conditions, they estimated that people with type 2 diabetes would save an average of $5900 in lifetime medical expenses by getting more treatment for their gum disease. 

They also estimated that people would enjoy about 7 months more of high-quality life.

More Savings Possible

This is a very recent study on the potential savings from treating gum disease. However, it is not the only study to make this connection. Several studies have looked at this problem. 

Probably the best comes from United Concordia, an insurer that used the dental and medical records of its policy-holders to see how much people could save if they treated their gum disease. 

To analyze the costs, the study looked at people with gum disease as well as one of four affected health conditions: stroke, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and pregnancy. They looked at the average medical costs in a year for those who had their gum disease treated compared to those who didn’t have their gum disease treated.

They concluded that treating gum disease reduced annual treatment cost by:

  • $5680 for stroke patients
  • $2840 for diabetes patients
  • $2433 for pregnant women
  • $1090 for coronary artery disease patients

They also found that gum disease treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization for most of these patients. Stroke patients were 21% less likely to be hospitalized, diabetes patients were 39% less likely to be hospitalized, and heart disease patients were 29% less likely to be hospitalized if they had gum disease treatment. 

Good Sense Can Save More Than Dollars

These days, with medical resources already taxed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to try to do what we can to manage our chronic health conditions so that we can reduce our risk of developing a serious condition that will land us in the hospital. One way to do that is to take care of your teeth and gums with regular dental treatment

If you are looking for a Fort Atkinson dentist to help protect your oral and overall health, please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment at BKS Dental.