More and more people are turning to the emergency room to treat dental emergencies instead of going to a dentist.
According to the American Dental Association, a number of studies based on individual hospitals have reported an increase in dental-related emergency department visits in the U.S.
Studies have also shown that dental emergency room visits have been increasing, and that they are growing as a percentage of all emergency room visits.
From 2004 to 2006, and again from 2008 to 2010, dental visits to emergency rooms grew at a faster absolute rate than total dental visits.
Most dental emergency room visits are for non-traumatic dental conditions, and in most cases, emergency room healthcare providers
provide prescriptions for pain or antibiotics for infections. For example, a 2009 study based on the National Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) reported that cavities were the principle diagnosis for 41.8% of all emergency dental visits.
Patients who are seen at an emergency room with a non-traumatic dental condition would be better served in a dental office setting due to the availability of definitive care and the likelihood of continuity of care.
Based on various estimates on the average cost of a dental emergency room visit, it cost the healthcare system anywhere from $867 million to $2.1 billion to treat dental conditions in hospital emergency rooms in 2010.
Previous studies have shown that, compared to other emergency visits, patients with a dental emergency visit are more likely to be young or middle-aged adults, and more likely to have Medicaid or no health insurance.
The deterioration in private and public dental benefits coverage for adults has clearly created significant financial barriers to dental care – especially among young adults. Our results strongly suggest that this increase in financial barriers to dental care for younger adults could have led to a substitution of dental emergency room visits for dental office visits.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did little to address the issue of dental utilization in emergency departments. The ACA does not mandate dental benefits for adults, nor are dental benefits likely to be included in the essential benefit packages in insurance plans sold through most states’ exchanges under provisions of the law.
That’s where the International Dental Emergency Alliance (I.D.E.A) LLC comes in. We offer consumers affordable emergency dental coverage that takes the financial stress out of visiting the dentist for a dental emergency, while eliminating the need to visit an emergency room. Please visit our About Us page.