Kids Winding Up in ER for Advanced Dental Care

Publication: Scripps Howard News Service

Author: Lee Bowman


04/23/2012 - Way too many Americans -- particularly children -- are winding up in emergency rooms and operating rooms with rotten teeth.

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A February study by The Pew Center for the States found that preventable dental conditions were the primary reason for more than 830,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. in 2009, up 16 percent from just three years before.

Experts say emergency room care is 10 times more expensive than routine dental services. ER care for preventable dental problems -- not from trauma -- often runs $1,000 or more per episode, while a preventive exam and cleaning in a dental office is $60 to $100.

The Pew study noted, for instance, that there were more than 115,000 dental-related ER cases in Florida in 2010, at a cost of more than $88 million. Nationwide, in 2009, the study noted, 56 percent of children enrolled in Medicaid did not receive any dental care, even a routine exam.

"The fact that so many Americans go to hospitals for dental care shows the delivery system is failing," said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign in a statement. "The care provided in an ER is much more expensive and it generally doesn't solve dental problems."

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Read the full Scripps News article, Kids Winding Up in ER for Advanced Dental Care, on the Chicago Daily Herald's website. 

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