United Concordia Dental Oral Health Study

New research builds on the connection between good oral health, lower medical costs and reduced hospitalizations

Chronic medical conditions—those that linger or have long-lasting effects—are a widespread issue, affecting an estimated one out of every two adults over 21.1 And, periodontitis (gum disease) is an epidemic of its own:

47% of Americans suffer from periodontal disease at any one time2

The good news? New research from United Concordia further supports that regular dental care can not only improve overall health, but can also reduce medical expenses and hospitalizations.


Objective

We set out to determine if periodontal treatment and maintenance reduced the cost of medical care and/or hospitalizations in members who had gum disease and one or more of the following chronic conditions: type 2 diabetes, cerebral vascular (stroke) disease, coronary artery (heart) disease, and/or in women who were pregnant. Specifically, we accounted for the impact of diabetes on these conditions.


Methodology

We conducted our study using claims data from members enrolled in both Highmark medical and United Concordia dental insurance spanning a five-year period (2005-2009). We found 338,891 members who had periodontal disease and one or more of the following conditions: type 2 diabetes, cerebral vascular (stroke) disease, coronary artery (heart) disease and/or in women who were pregnant.


Dental treatment groups

Members were identified with one or more conditions and were broken into two groups:

  • Group 1: Members who received periodontal treatment (treated)
  • Group 2: Members who did not receive periodontal treatment (untreated)


Who led the study?

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D. led the Oral Health Study

Our new research was conducted by Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D., a pioneer in the study of the relationship between dental and systemic disease.


Dr. Jeffcoat:

  • Graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine
  • Professor and Dean Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
  • Author of more than 200 papers and recipient of numerous clinical and research awards
  • Periodontics spokeswoman for the American Dental Association (ADA)
  • Past president of the Academy of Osseointegration, the American Association for Dental Research and the International association for Dental Research

Learn about our new research results

 

1.  CDC, The Power of Prevention: Chronic Disease…the Public Health Challenge of the 21st Century,  2009

2.  CDC, Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010, 09/12