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Research from CIGNA Supports Potential Association between Treated Gum Disease and Reduced Medical Costs for People with Diabetes


SUNRISE, Fla. - The results from a new CIGNA study support that there is a potential association between treated periodontal (gum) disease and reduced medical costs for patients with diabetes. The findings of the three-year claims study were presented during a recent meeting of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in San Diego.

The study was presented by Dr. Clay Hedlund, a CIGNA dental director, Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, Dean Emeritus and professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Robert Genco, a SUNY Distinguished Professor, University at Buffalo Schools of Dental Medicine, and Dr Nipul Tanna, clinical assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Drs. Jeffcoat and Genco are members of the CIGNA Dental Clinical Advisory Panel.* IADR is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing research and increasing knowledge to improve oral health worldwide.

CIGNA’s Dr. Hedlund said the study corroborates the results of CIGNA’s prior research, presented at the IADR meeting in 2009, in support of a possible association between the treatment of gum disease and lower medical costs in the treatment of diabetes. In the current study, patients who were treated for gum disease in the first year of the study and then received regular maintenance care thereafter had lower medical costs than those patients who had previously been treated for gum disease but did not receive regular maintenance care. On average, medical costs were $2,483 per year lower, or 23 percent less, for patients with diabetes who had proper gum disease treatment.

“With the increase in the prevalence of diabetes, and great concern for our ever-increasing medical costs, this study suggests that periodontal therapy may help reduce the disease burden, as well as medical costs of treatment for patients with diabetes,” said Dr. Robert Genco.

“The link between periodontal disease and diabetes has been firmly established and the association is a concern" said Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat. “Periodontal disease can place individuals with diabetes at greater risk for diabetic complications, including mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetic nephropathy. Advancing our understanding on how treatment for gum disease can affect the health of people with diabetes will help lead to the creation of evidence-based treatment standards that could benefit millions of people and help reduce medical costs at the same time.”

Dr. Clay Hedlund noted, “These results suggest that treating gum disease has benefits beyond better oral health and may also help to control medical costs for some patients as well. We are pleased to be part of the dental community’s ongoing research into the links between good oral health and good overall health.”

About the Research

The length of the study period was three full years, 2006 to 2008. It included an examination of medical and dental claims of over 46,094 individuals aged 18-62 who were enrolled in both CIGNA medical and CIGNA dental plans. The medical cost analysis included 3,449 patients from this group who received treatment for diabetes. These patients were presumed to also have had gum disease since they had received periodontal (gum) therapy at some point.

Two different groups of patients with gum disease were then compared. Individuals in the first group received initial treatment for gum disease during the first (baseline) year of the study and received regular maintenance care thereafter (1,355 patients). Individuals in the second group received treatment for periodontal disease prior to the baseline year, and did not receive regular maintenance care during the study period (2,094 patients).

Lower medical costs among patients being treated for diabetes were observed in the group who received periodontal treatment in the first year and then regular maintenance care thereafter. Conversely, medical costs were higher in the group of patients who received treatment prior to the baseline year and did not receive regular maintenance care thereafter. These medical cost differences averaged $2,483 per patient in 2008. These results are part of ongoing studies at CIGNA.

CIGNA is an industry leader in providing integrated medical and dental plans to address the emerging association between periodontal disease and chronic medical conditions and between periodontal disease and pregnancy. In 2006, CIGNA launched its Oral Health Integration Program, the first program of its kind to be offered by a health services company. Through this program, CIGNA dental plan customers with certain health care conditions, or those who are pregnant, are eligible to receive 100 percent reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs associated with periodontal scaling and root planing and periodontal maintenance. In addition, expectant mothers may receive extra dental cleanings as needed during pregnancy. The program was expanded earlier this year to include more people and coverage for more conditions. These integrated programs are designed to help eliminate cost as a barrier to seeking appropriate treatment for gum disease and ultimately improve health.

*About the CIGNA Dental Clinical Advisory Panel – The CIGNA Dental Clinical Advisory panel helps to create innovative approaches to new technologies, medical/dental integration and evidence-based strategies. Organized by CIGNA, this independent panel consists of leaders in the dental profession, many of whom are published and have served in leadership roles within their specialty or the American Dental Association. Several panel members have current academic appointments in major schools of dentistry, including the University of PA, Tufts, SUNY, and UCLA.


CIGNA (NYSE: CI) is a global health service and financial company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. CIGNA Corporation’s operating subsidiaries in the United States provide an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and vision care benefits, as well as group life, accident and disability insurance. CIGNA offers products and services in over 27 countries and jurisdictions and has approximately 65 million customer relationships throughout the world. All products and services are provided exclusively by such operating subsidiaries and not by CIGNA Corporation. Such operating subsidiaries include Life Insurance Company of North America, CIGNA Life Insurance Company of New York, and Connecticut General Life Insurance Company. To learn more about CIGNA, visit To sign up for email alerts or an RSS feed of company news, log on to Also, follow us on Twitter at @cigna, visit CIGNA’s YouTube channel at and listen to CIGNA’s podcast series with healthy tips and information at or by searching “CIGNA” in iTunes.


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