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Study Finds Arkansas Blue Cross Dental Program Improves People’s Health

Your whole health is our top priority at Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Since its launch in 2014, our Dental XtraSM program has led the way in integrating medical and dental coverage to help our members live healthier. Dental Xtra provides additional dental services to people with select chronic conditions that are especially affected by oral health.

Studies show that people with diabetes have an increased risk of gum disease1, while those with gum disease are two to three times as likely to suffer a stroke.2 To better understand how the program helps people living with these conditions, Arkansas Blue Cross teamed up with the Mayo Clinic to study the impact of the Dental Xtra program over time on the medical costs of enrolled members who live with diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The five-year study found that members who participated in Dental Xtra achieved better health outcomes and had significantly lower health care costs. Also telling was that individuals who missed a year of program participation saw an immediate increase in medical expenses.

The manuscript of the groundbreaking study has been published in the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, a leading dental academic journal.

“We’re committed to promoting the whole-person health of our members,” says Mark Jansen, vice president and chief medical officer. “Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand the degree to which Dental Xtra’s preventive and periodontal services, outreach and education, and integrated medical care programs have helped improve the health of our members. Our work with the Mayo Clinic proves that the program helps our members manage chronic conditions and lowers their medical costs.”

As a medical and dental insurance company, Arkansas Blue Cross is uniquely positioned to deliver an integrated care program like Dental Xtra. With the incidence of heart disease and diabetes increasing year over year, the importance of having dental coverage that includes proactive, coordinated care can’t be overstated.

Medical and dental plan members with eligible medical conditions are automatically enrolled in the program. To learn more, visit

  1. National Institutes of Health (n.d.). “Diabetes, Gum Disease, & Other Dental Problems.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed January 2022.
  2. Harvard Medical School (2021 Feb. 25). “Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread.” Harvard Health Publishing.
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