Treating periodontal disease can hold down the overall cost of treating conditions such as diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease.

Researchers at Columbia University have reported that conclusion in a paper based on a study of 145,000 members of health plans provided by Aetna Inc., New York, who had continuous dental and medical coverage during a 2-year study period, Aetna says.

Treating gum disease at all helped down the cost of medical care for diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease, and treating gum disease early ā€” during the first study year ā€” actually cut the total cost of medical care for those conditions, according to Aetna.

The researchers reported their findings recently in Orlando, Fla., at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research.