Harvard Health Letter

Easy way to save money: Grab your toothbrush

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Treating gum disease is associated with lower health care costs for other conditions, finds a report in the August 2014 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers analyzed the dental and health insurance records of about 340,000 people. They observed that among people with certain medical conditions, those who got treatment for gum disease went on to have lower medical costs and fewer hospitalizations in a four-year period, compared with people who didn't get treatment. Among people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease who had treatment, health care costs were as much as 40% lower than in those who didn't get treated. The treatment was a type of tooth surface cleaning below the gum line called planing and root scaling. Gum disease can result when plaque buildup gets out of hand, causing inflammation below the gum line. The best way to avoid that is to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day, recommends the American Dental Association.

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