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Emergency Dental Care Far Too Common

Posted by on 10/13/2014
Emergency Dental Care Far Too Common

Millions of Americans visit emergency rooms each year for treatment of dental pain and related maladies. Approximately half of the visits are paid in cash, but the remainder are billed to Medicaid or Medicare. Averaging between $400-1500/visit, these costs are adding up for patients and coverage programs alike.


Many of the individuals seeking emergency treatment of dental issues carry no dental insurance and cannot afford regular care. Common afflictions for these persons include pain, cavities, broken teeth, and abscesses. Unfortunately, emergency rooms are not equipped to properly treat these individuals.


Medicare and Medicaid programs do allow dental coverage, however, an overwhelming number of dentists do not accept the coverage. As a result, persons seeking care either need to travel great distances, experience excessive wait times, or fail to receive care at all. The resultant emergency visits result in 10 times the cost and typically are not effective at resolving the root issue.


In many areas, programs are being developed to provide an intermediate level of care to offset these gaps in coverage. Regions in Alaska, Minnesota, and Maine have dental therapists that perform routine care such as cleanings and fillings to offset utilizing dentists for all levels of care.