Should Governments Invest in Specialist Care for Periodontitis?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Chronic oral diseases such as periodontitis are usually symptomless until pain sets in and then the condition is no longer “curable.” More widespread than commonly known, periodontitis is associated with systemic conditions like diabetes, and can lead to loosening of teeth, pain, discomfort and loss of function. At that stage, specialist dental care, which usually incurs higher costs, may be required.

In the study, “Cost-effectiveness of periodontitis management in public sector specialist periodontal clinics: A societal perspective research in Malaysia,” researchers from the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the national public sector specialist periodontal programme in the management of periodontal disease. This study was funded by the Malaysia Ministry of Higher Education.

According to the study results, twelve months after specialist care, patients showed improvements in periodontal health and quality of life. The specialist programme led to an incremental cost and outcome of MYR 1,714 (US$524.00) and 3.8 QALY gained, respectively and an ICER of MYR 451 (US$138.00) / QALY gained. The additional cost paid for QALY gained due to the specialist programme is estimated as it saves future expenditures and improves patients’ quality of life. As a result, the researchers suggest that it is cost-effective for policy makers to include specialist periodontal care in the allocation of health care resources.

The lead author on the study, Tuti Ningseh Mohd-Dom, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor at the Universiti Kebangsaan in Malaysia states, “It would be good value for money if governments were to provide specialist periodontal care for periodontitis patients because of the comparatively high effectiveness of the programme outcomes.”

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