It Pays to Treat Periodontal Disease in Diabetes

Marjorie Jeffcoat, DMD


September 07, 2012

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Hello. This is Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, coming to you from the University of Pennsylvania. This month I will be talking about another reason for patients to visit their dentists.

I will discuss patients with diabetes and why treating periodontal disease in these patients could reduce their healthcare costs. We looked at more than 1.7 million patients, of which 100,000 had both medical and dental insurance coverage, diabetes, and evidence of periodontal disease -- a large "N."

What did we look for? We looked for the numbers of inpatient hospitalizations, physician visits, and, of course, medical costs [in these diabetic patients in the first 3 years after periodontal treatment]. [After the first year] we found that in patients who received treatment for their periodontal disease, hospitalizations decreased by a whopping 60% -- in fact, more than 60%. Physician visits declined by more than 40% with periodontal treatment. With periodontal treatment, cost of medical care fell by $1814 per person per year, a huge number.

We found this spectacular. We believe it may be a result of reducing the inflammation with a curette, thereby reducing the hemoglobin A1c level so that the diabetes was under better control.

This is Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat coming to you from the University of Pennsylvania.

Editor's Note: Dr. Jeffcoat describes the first-year results here. For the full 3-year results, see "Periodontal Therapy Reduces Hospitalizations and Medical Care Costs in Diabetics."[1]The author thanks United Concordia for support and for access to the database.