February 29, 2012
More Americans Having Dental Work Done At ER
The Pew Center on the States reports that more Americans are seeking dental care at hospital emergency rooms.
USA Today reports that most visits involve routine trouble such as toothaches and gum infections that are relatively inexpensive to treat at a dentist´s office, at a cost estimated to be from about $50 to $100, but costs up to 10 times more at the emergency room.
In Florida it is reported there were more than 115,000 ER dental visits in 2010 at a cost of more than $88 million. This was an increase of 40 percent from 2008, involving more than 40,000 Medicaid patients.
One reason for the high price tag involves the lack of dental services in emergency rooms. Doctors can usually only provide pain relief from toothaches and antibiotics for infections involving the mouth, but not much more.
Nationwide ER visits for dental work increased by 16 percent from 2006 to 2009 and the trend is expected to rise. In New York there was a 32 percent increase in emergency treatments for young children with preventable dental problems. While in Illinois metro Chicago hospitals reported 77,000 dental visits from 2008 to 2011.
Pew reports that the emergency room visits are fueled by the plight that disadvantaged people have in deciding to receive regular preventive dental care or placing food on the table.
Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children´s Dental Campaign, says “The fact that so many Americans go to hospitals for dental care shows the delivery system is failing. The care provided in an ER is much more expensive, and it generally doesn´t solve dental problems.”
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