A new report has discovered that maintaining good oral health can reduce medical costs for some of the UK’s most life-threatening illnesses.
The study looked at almost 350,000 patients with gum disease and discovered after treatment, on-going costs for those with type-2 diabetes, strokes, heart problems and pregnancy decreased by 40.2 per cent, 40.9 per cent, 10.7 per cent, and 73.7 per cent respectively.
The study also found hospital admissions were reduced after treatment for gum disease for those with diabetes and heart problems.
Recent research by the British Dental Health Foundation revealed that almost four in five (79 per cent) people thought strokes could not result from poor oral health. Only heart problems registered with those questioned, as two in five people (40 per cent) thought they could be brought on by poor oral health.
Chief Executive of oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes that if patient charges for preventive dental treatment were dropped for patients with these conditions, savings for the broader NHS budget could be massive.
Dr Carter said:
“Cost remains the largest barrier to oral healthcare in the UK. If the Government followed the precedent set in America where some funders are now making oral health treatment free for those suffering from type2 diabetes, strokes and coronary artery disease – the UK’s biggest killer – could potentially save the NHS millions of pounds.
“Those figures give the clearest indication yet the cost of prevention far outweighs the costs involved with restorative and emergency care. You may think you are being financially prudent but reality is the cost of neglecting your oral health is even higher. That's exactly what this study has found.
“Gum disease affects most people at some point in their lives, so there is no excuse for ignoring good dental hygiene. The good news is that poor oral health is nearly always preventable, so it is important that people make caring for their teeth a top priority. Regular visits to the dentist, as often as they recommend, are really important to give the dentist a chance to assess your oral health and, if necessary, give your teeth a scale and polish.
“Doing this alone won't help your oral health. That's why I'd also encourage a simple routine of brushing teeth, twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste, which will help to remove plaque – the cause of gum disease. It is also important to clean in between teeth using interdental brushes or floss.”
Lead researcher Marjorie Jeffcoat, D.M.D., professor and Dean Emeritus at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine said:
“We are pleased to report, significant savings in medical costs when patients with gum disease received treatment. Although the magnitude of the effect was surprising, the results stress the importance of giving patients dental care as part of total care. Our future studies will look at the effect of dental care on cost savings on other diseases and conditions. We will keep you up to date.”