As more Americans are negatively impacted by the economy, there has been a rise in visits to the emergency room for emergency dental care. The startling activity first made the news in 2009 as Minnesota hospitals reported dealing with 20,000 dental emergencies and over the past few years, more states have noted an uptick in the tendancy.
The trend is being linked to individuals simply ignoring dental care until the point of no return. Each and every person has their own reasons for skipping oral hygiene and dentist office visits including (but not limited to) time, dental anxiety, lack of dental insurance, lack of cash and just plain ignorance. Regardless of the reasoning behind the neglect, the behavior has lead to sharp increase in ER visits for dental problems, a whopping 16 percent (from 2006 to 2009) according to the Pew Center on the States.
Florida has the title of being the sunshine state and that moniker has helped the area become home to countless snowbirds, immigrants and Americans looking to live their lives minus snow. As a result over 19,057,500 people call the state home and hundreds of thousands of them have ended up in the emergency room for dental problems. That has cost hospitals and taxpayers a whopping $90 million (2010).
The findings have come after researchers from Florida Public Health Institute’s Oral Health Coalition analyzed billing codes provided by Florida hospitals. The findings showed a sharp increase in emergency visits specifically linked to tooth pain. In 2008, 105,992 visits were recording and by the end of 2010, over 115,000 people (close to 10 percent of which are children).
As the "show me state" Missouri residents are taking the motto to heart as more of them are showing off their rotten teeth to ER workers. A report released by local St. John's Hospital and the Health Commission of Springfield and Green County has shown that around 7 percent of 2010 ER visits were linked directly to poor oral hygiene. Researchers hypothesize that in Missouri the ER is the best option for treating dental problems as Missouri does not provide Medicaid coverage to adults.
Tennessee is a state filled with more than 3,000 caves, the infamous Country Music Hall of Fame and of course the Grand Ole Opry. Thanks to the local state of dental care, more individuals visited the ER for dental care than burns. In recent history, local hospitals dealt with more than 55,000 dental related ER visits; five times more than burns.
Individuals who commit to preventative dental care can help reverse the number of visits and the burden it is putting on local systems. Estimates put the cost of emergency dental care for an dental infection between $450-$500 per case while other issues such as emergency treatment for an abscess can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Once an individual does make it to the ER they are generally treated with antibiotics and pain killers, but the core of the dental problem is not addressed as ERs do not staff dentists.
Instead, individuals need to commit to daily brushing and flossing to remove excess oral bacteria and destructive plaque from a human mouth to decrease the odds of developing issues including tooth erosion, cavities and gum disease. All of which can lead to excruciating tooth pain and trips to the ER.
Aside from those behaviors, dentist visits will help. Dentists are the first line of defense for catching dental problems early and implementing the right dental treatment as a solution. Their proactive reaction to an oral condition can prevent the problem from evolving into an emergency situation and can prevent unexpected visits to the ER.
No two dental emergencies are alike as they can vary from broken teeth, abscesses, knocked out teeth and unexplained pain. Because there are no dental care experts on staff, ER visits will not properly address the actual cause of a dental problem. An ER can dole out temporary relief, however visiting a dentist ASAP is a wiser move. People in need can dial 1-877-528-4242 to schedule efficient, emergency dental emergency or can call 1-800-DENTIST for other dental appointment options.