A managed care company is trying to tell pregnant members and members with certain serious diseases about the importance of oral health.

Aetna Inc., Hartford, is starting a free dental/medical member education program for all employers that combine Aetna health coverage with Aetna’s insured or self-insured dental plans.

Aetna already offers access to extra cleanings and other care for members who are pregnant and those who have suffered strokes or have diabetes or coronary artery disease.

The new education program will reach out to members who are eligible for the extra benefits to encourage them to take care of the benefits, Aetna says.

Aetna says it is making the extra benefits and the education program available because of studies that show that gum disease appears to be associated with premature birth, poor blood sugar control, and a variety of other serious health problems.