Does periodontal treatment really pay off?
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
The previous report discussed a question that patients frequently ask: ‘will periodontal treatment really make me feel better?’ And, based on the literature, this question should be answered with a resounding ‘yes!’ However, personal well-being and oral-health-related quality of life are not the only issues – for many patients, financial considerations are also of primary concern, prompting the question: ‘does periodontal treatment really pay off?’
A very interesting Norwegian study has been published on this topic (Fardal et al. 2012). As part of this study, the authors calculated how much it costs to have periodontal treatment with subsequent life-long maintenance therapy, and compared these costs with the cost of high-value treatments (bridges and implant-supported restorations) to replace teeth that were lost as a result of not having periodontal treatment.
The following 2 scenarios were seen:
- If the patient undergoes active periodontal treatment but subsequently has no further follow-up or maintenance therapy, then only up to 3 teeth can be replaced with high-value treatments (with bridges or implant-supported restorations).
- If the patient forgoes periodontal treatment completely, then only up to 4 teeth can be replaced with high-value treatments (with bridges or implant-supported restorations).
Each additional tooth lost (i.e. more than 3 or 4 teeth) costs the patient more than lifelong periodontal treatment (i.e. the active treatment phase and the maintenance phase).
Of course, these figures vary according to the billing system used in different countries. Nonetheless, they can be used as a point of reference, because many dental services in Norway are also private.
We should therefore answer our patients as follows: ‘not having periodontal treatment can quickly become much more expensive if you would like your lost teeth replaced!’
- Fardal Ø, O'Neill C, Gjermo P, Fardal E, Sandvik L, Hansen BF, Linden GJ. The lifetime direct cost of periodontal treatment: a case study from a Norwegian specialist practice. J Periodontol. 2012 Dec;83(12):1455-62. doi: 10.1902/jop.2012.110689.