Taking Care of Oral Health May Improve Overall Health
During American Stroke Month in May, United Concordia Dental, one of the nation's largest dental insurers, reminds adults that taking care of their oral health may help improve their overall health.
"The connection between oral health and other medical issues is well known," said James Bramson, DDS, chief dental officer for United Concordia. "Years of research show that gum disease is associated with conditions such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes. It's even been shown as a risk factor for low birth weight and premature delivery of infants."
Dr. Bramson said regular visits to the dentist can help identify potential issues associated with certain medical conditions, such as stroke and heart disease. "Dentists are trained to look for signs of systemic disease as part of every routine dental checkup, including bumps and sores. Dental X-rays not only identify cavities, but also early signs of bone problems. Finally, dentists can help determine if seemingly harmless mouth conditions such as dry mouth and bad breath may be signs of more serious health problems," he said.
Last month, United Concordia unveiled the findings of a landmark study it sponsored with Highmark Inc. showing that medical costs could be reduced by $1,814 annually for individuals with diabetes who received treatment for gum disease.
"This is only the first round of findings from the study, which looked at nearly 1.7 million individuals with United Concordia dental and Highmark medical coverage over a three-year period," Dr. Bramson study. "In the coming months, we will also analyze data related to other chronic diseases and conditions, such as stroke, heart disease, and pregnancy with pre-term birth. We hope these additional findings will show medically related cost savings as well."