Periodontal Therapy Impact on General Health

An interesting article titled “Impact of Periodontal Therapy on General Health,” appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (published online June 18, 2014) and written by Marjorie Jeffcoat and et. al. The authors attempt to estimate the effects of periodontal therapy on medical costs and hospitalizations among those with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebral vascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy. The goal was to see if periodontal disease therapy might prevent or mitigate some of the adverse effects associated with the 5 studied conditions.

The authors found significant reductions in healthcare costs and hospital admissions for pregnant women and patients with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, and cerebral vascular disease. The authors found that the medical costs for pregnant women were 74% lower than for those with untreated periodontal disease. Patients with both type 2 diabetes and cerebral vascular disease had medical costs that were roughly 40% lower than for those with untreated periodontal disease. In addition those with coronary artery disease had medical costs that were roughly 11% lower than those with untreated periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease can be treated by cleaning the tooth above and below the gum line with scaling and root planning. Surgery can be used for more advanced cases. The researchers in this study looked at medical and dental insurance records of 338,891 patients with periodontal disease from 2005 to 2009 who fit into one of the 5 described conditions above. They compared patients who had at least four periodontal treatments to those who had no such treatments.

The researchers also found lower hospitalizations in the time period following periodontal treatment in patients for patients with all of the five conditions except rheumatoid arthritis. The authors feel that the findings do not prove that treatment of periodontal disease has a beneficial effect beyond the mouth. Even so they feel that since periodontal treatment has minimal risk and is not too costly, it should be treated.

For more information on periodontal disease and its correlation with other diseases see for example the past blog posts and

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