Adding extra dental care benefits for pregnant health plan members and sick health plan members seems to boost use of preventive care.

Researchers at Aetna Inc., Hartford, come to that conclusion in an update on the company’s experience with the Aetna Dental/Medical integration program.

Aetna formed the pilot program 2 years ago in response to studies indicating that severe gum disease correlates with pregnancy and with a wide variety of chronic illnesses, such as chronic heart failure.

In the core health insurance market, the apartment attracted 63% of the at-risk members who have not been to the dentist in 12 months.