Emergency Department Visits Involving Dental Conditions, 2018

Oral health contributes to overall wellbeing and improved quality of life.  Untreated poor dental health also can lead to negative general health outcomes.1 Most oral diseases tend to be progressive and cumulative without intervention.2 Tooth decay and periodontal disease are among the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide and have been shown to be associated with a number of life-threatening conditions, including sepsis, diabetes, and heart disease.2,3 Despite the increasing need for dental care, many Americans delay or do not receive it. Failure to receive treatment may make necessary the provision of less definitive and more costly care. Individuals who lack a usual source for dental care may visit hospital emergency departments (EDs) to seek relief for dental pain and related conditions.4,5 The cost of dental-related visits to the ED is high, totaling more than $2 billion nationally in 2017. 6

This Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Brief presents statistics on ED visits involving dental conditions using weighted estimates from the 2018 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS). Characteristics of dental-related ED visits, including visits that result in discharge from the ED (treat and release) and visits that result in admission to the hospital, are presented. The most common dental conditions are identified by type of ED visit. For ED visits with a dental condition as a secondary diagnosis, the most frequent first-listed or principal nondental conditions are presented. Because of the large sample size of the NEDS data, small differences can be statistically significant but not clinically important. Thus, only differences greater than or equal to 10 percent are discussed in the text.

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