Dental Tribune Europe

Prevention of periodontal disease could save billions

By EFP
July 09, 2021

BRUSSELS, Belgium: The European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) recently commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a provider of forecasting and advisory services, to perform an analysis on the financial and human cost of periodontal disease in six western European countries. Overall, the results show that preventing new cases of periodontitis by eliminating gingivitis would save up to €101 billion over a ten-year period.

Periodontitis is largely preventable with good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, yet in western Europe, developments in the prevention and management of the disease appear to have stagnated, according to the report. The prevalence of periodontitis has remained largely unchanged over the last ten years and awareness of the disease among the general public and non-oral healthcare professionals is poor.

Few studies have modelled the economic burden of periodontitis and return on investment (ROI) of treatment, particularly across different countries. The EIU analysts developed a model to examine the ROI of prevention and management of periodontitis. Separate modelling was performed for France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The following overview summarises the projected economic outcomes per country for the scenario in which gingivitis is eliminated over a ten-year period.

France:

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €10.34 billion
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €40.40
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €18.00 (compared with €39.00 with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

Germany:

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €10.04 billion
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €57.50
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €19.00 (compared with €35.00 with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

Italy:

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €35.83 billion
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €15.20
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €114.00 (compared with €183.00 with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

The Netherlands:

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €7.76 billion
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €18.70
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €82.00 (compared with €142.00 with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

Spain:

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €12.70 billion
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €19.80
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €36.00 (compared with €72.00 with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

The UK (out of pocket):

  • Projected savings over a ten-year period: €24.68 billion (£21.16 billion)
  • ROI of every euro invested in eliminating gingivitis: €23.92 (£20.50)
  • Cost per healthy life year after ten years: €50.00 (£42.87; compared with €91.00 [£78.00] with the current strategy, visiting the dentist only when a problem emerges).

The authors noted that both eliminating gingivitis and increasing the rate of diagnosing and treating periodontitis to 90% in the modelling had a positive ROI for all countries and gains in healthy life years compared with business as usual. Neglecting management of gingivitis had the opposite effects. The authors highlighted the importance of greater emphasis on self-care and prevention at the individual and societal level, including nursery-based dental care and toothbrushing workshops in schools.

“Dental tariffs and the costs of accessing a dentist is a barrier to early treatment for the general public,” states the paper. The authors concluded that the cost-effectiveness of managing gingivitis and periodontitis shown in this analysis demonstrate that dental costs deserve a review by European policymakers and commissioners.

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