Serious Dental and Vision Conditions Linked With Poor Overall Health

Dentistry Today


People with serious dental and vision conditions are more likely to suffer from other significant ailments and incur higher medical costs, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). The insurer reports that 3.7 million or 6% of its commercially insured members experience serious enough dental conditions to generate medical insurance claims.

People with serious dental conditions also are 25% more likely to suffer from heart disease, autoimmune disorders, anemia, gastro-intestinal disorders, and renal disease, BCBS says. They are twice as likely to visit the emergency room as those who don’t have a medical claim for a severe dental condition as well. And, BCBS members with these conditions have nearly two fewer years of healthy life. 

About 5.6 million or 8% of BCBS members suffer from severe eye conditions that generate medical claims and are twice as likely to visit the emergency room as those who do not have a severe vision medical claim. Plus, they are more likely to suffer from autoimmune disease, stroke, renal failure, and diabetes, and they have more than two fewer years of healthy life.

“People need to pay attention to their dental and vision care, as they can indicate other serious health issues that should be addressed,” said Trent Haywood, MD, JD, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the BCBS Association. “Seeking oral and vision care throughout your life can help detect more serious problems down the road.”

The findings are based on medical claims data from the BCBS Health Index, which encompasses more than 200 conditions that impact health and identifies those with the greatest impact on the insured population. It is powered by medical claims data from more than 41 million commercially insured members of BCBS companies.

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