People with diabetes or coronary artery disease have reduced health care expenditures, including less likelihood of hospitalisation, when receiving regular preventive dental care, US researchers have found.
“Preventive dental care—regular exams, cleaning and nonsurgical periodontal treatment—was strongly associated with significant savings for patients with either condition, and even greater for patients with both,” said Dr Bijan Borah, a health services researcher at the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, and the study’s lead investigator.
“We measured this as overall payments from the health care plan, which included integrated preventive dental care.
“Interestingly, the greatest cost savings came from reduced use of inpatient services,” Dr Borah said.
“So, in essence, a healthier mouth was associated with less hospitalisations. This saves money, but more importantly, patients remain healthier.”
To reach their conclusions—published in the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry—Dr Borah and his team examined the records of 11,734 adult patients enrolled in a commercial health plan in Arkansas that provided integrated preventive dental care coverage. Study patients were continuously enrolled in the health plan for at least one year during the years 2014 to 2018, and had diabetes, coronary artery disease, or both.
The researchers focused on the patient cohorts with four and five years of continuous enrolment. They compared the health care costs of those who had at least one preventive dental visit each year of enrolment to patients who did not use the dental care. Costs were calculated by totalling claims for inpatient and outpatient care and prescription medication.
The average annual cost savings for patients receiving at least yearly dental care compared to those who received none were as follows:
- Patients with diabetes—$549 cost savings.
- Patients with coronary artery disease—$548 cost savings.
- Patients with both conditions—$866.