Newsroom | 26 March 2013

Cigna Study Supports Association between Treated Periodontal Disease and Reduced Hospital Admissions and ER Visits, and Lower Medical Costs


Cigna Corporation
Jill Holliday, 860-226-2094

  • Three-year Cigna study finds potential benefits from treating periodontal disease
  • Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., March 26, 2013 - Regular visits to the dentist may do more than just brighten your smile, they may also lead to fewer hospital visits and trips to the emergency room, as well as lower your medical costs. These are the conclusions from a three-year Cigna dental study that looked at the potential benefits of treated periodontal (gum) disease. The findings were recently presented at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) conference in Seattle. IADR is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing research and increasing knowledge to improve oral health worldwide.

"Advancing our understanding of how treatment for gum disease can affect overall health may help lead to the creation of evidence-based treatment standards that could benefit millions of people and simultaneously help reduce medical costs," said Dr. Robert Genco, a member of Cigna's Dental Clinical Advisory Panel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health and are mostly seen in adults. Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. Half of Americans aged 30 or older - 64.7 million people - have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease.

Cigna's study looked at periodontal patients from 2009 through 2011. On average, patients who received gum disease treatment had better outcomes than patients without treatment. Hospital admission rates were 149 per thousand (67%) lower, emergency room visits were 100 per thousand (54%) lower, and medical costs were $1,020 per year (28%) lower.

"These results suggest that treating gum disease has benefits beyond better oral health and may also help to control medical costs for some patients," said Clay Hedlund D.D.S., Cigna's dental director. "We are pleased to be part of the dental community's ongoing research into the links between good oral health and good overall health."

In addition to Dr. Hedlund, Dr. Robert Genco, a distinguished professor at the SUNY University at Buffalo Schools of Dental Medicine and Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and member of the Cigna Dental Clinical Advisory Panel, and Alex Marano, a Cigna informatics senior specialist, presented the findings at the IADR Conference.

About the IADR

The International Association for Dental Research (IADR), headquartered in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Its mission is : (1) to advance research and increase knowledge for the improvement of oral health worldwide; (2) to support and represent the oral health research community; and (3) to facilitate the communication and application for research findings.

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 professions, 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 Tufts, SUNY, and UCLA.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 78 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit