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Can dental care save medical costs?

From my ongoing meetings with Canadian employers and benefit consultants, there is one overriding theme: healthcare benefits (primarily the drug plan and the dental plan) need further containment, particularly as the workforce ages and new biological drugs become available.

One common strategy to contain costs for the employer, of course, is to make the employee share more of these expenses. We see co-pays now as the rule rather than the exception for most dental procedures.

But is there an argument to preserve, if not enrich, the dental plan as a way of saving medical costs (drug costs and extended health) born by the employer? Can better oral health save money on drugs and absentee-ism?

One recent study points in this direction.

The study assessed the costs of major chronic conditions such as coronary artery disease, for those with periodontal disease. It compared these costs for 2 subgroups: those who got treated for their periodontal needs versus those who did not.

This assessment found periodontal therapy led to a significant reduction in total medical costs per subject per year for those with type 2 diabetes (a 40% reduction), cerebral vascular disease (41% reduction) and coronary artery disease (11% reduction). There was no significant effect on rheumatoid arthritis.

While this is just the start of analysis between dental care and lower medical spending, it is much needed in the ongoing debate about cost-containment.

By: Ross Perry

SOURCED: Partners In Prevention

3 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Whether or not better oral health directly equals better overall health is hard to prove, but even if there is any chance that oral health can protect your heart or your brain (connections between oral health and Alzheimer’s) why not take that chance?

  2. Great article, Ross! This preliminary research may just be the beginning, but it seems to make a pretty good case for saving unnecessary health costs in the long run. Looking forward to the follow-up.

  3. This was really an awesome piece of info you wrote there. Thanks for your time and energy that you put in! Keep up the good work.

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