Behind efforts to transform the U.S. health system is a serious concern from policymakers, insurers and providers that the current rate of spending increases is unsustainable (see “Dental Economic Realities”). According to the most recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National Health Expenditure Accounts figures, health care spending in 2015 reached $3.2 trillion or $9990 per person. This represents 17.8% of the U.S. gross domestic product.
One of the ways to slow increasing health care costs is to focus on better prevention and treatment for high-cost diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. According to a 2017 study, unless more is done to prevent heart disease, by 2035, nearly half (45%) of the U.S. population will have some form of cardiovascular disease and costs could reach $1.1 trillion.1
In light of growing evidence that diabetes increases the risk of periodontal disease (and, conversely, periodontal disease worsens diabetes), plus new research indicating that treating periodontal conditions in patients with diabetes could reduce the risk of heart disease, dentists have an important role to play. Comparing subjects who received advanced periodontal treatment with those who didn’t, Peng et al2 found that treating periodontal disease in patients with type 2 diabetes reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure and stroke.
Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for most racial/ethnic groups in the United States3 and costs about $207 billion each year in treatment, medications and lost productivity, 4 reducing the incidence of these diseases could create important savings — while lengthening and improving these patient’s lives.
The CMS is working on a Million Heart initiative to reduce the incidence of heart disease. If improvements in oral health care could do the same, it would be a powerful argument for the expansion of access to affordable, high-quality dental care.
- American Heart Association. Cardiovascular Disease: A Costly Burden for America, Projections Through 2035. Available at: heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf. Accessed June 22, 2017.
- Peng C, Yang Y, Chan K, Kornelius E, Chiou J, Huang C. Periodontal treatment and the risks of cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes: A retrospective cohort study. Intern Med. 2017;56:1015–1021.
- Heron M. Deaths: Leading Causes for 2008. Available at: cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_06.pdf. Accessed June 22, 2017.
- Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al, on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2016. Circulation. 2016;133:e38–e360.
From Decisions in Dentistry. July 2017;3(7):60.