A new study from Oxford University Press has discovered that alcohol abuse, dental conditions and mental health concerns are the three main causes of avoidable visits to emergency rooms in the United States. The study was published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care and reported that avoidable emergency visits could be controlled and reduced by providing more access to dental and medical health services at regular facilities.
The research discovered that 3.5 percent of all visits to an emergency room are considered avoidable, and these visits can impact the cost of health insurance. Data from 424 million emergency room visits were analyzed from patients ages 16 to 64 in order to find this information; 3.9 percent of these avoidable visits could be traced to disorders involving the teeth or jaws.
Preventative Dental Care
Practicing preventative dental care can be an effective way to maintain good oral health for Americans of all ages, according to Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, a leading family dentist in Spokane, Washington.
“Prevention begins as early as the first tooth, when parents can begin normalizing a routine for keeping teeth clean. As children grow into school-age, fluoride and sealants can be applied to teeth to help prevent decay and cavities,” he said. “Regular dental checkups are imperative for all ages to avoid serious dental complications and keep teeth in optimal shape.”
Two of the most common preventative treatments in children are the use of sealants and fluoride. Sealants protect teeth with a thin plastic coating, usually on the molars and premolars. Research has shown these treatments to be extremely successful at preventing early childhood tooth decay. Fluoride treatments are painted on teeth after dental checkups or can be used as a mouth rinse. They can be done every few months, as needed, to help prevent decay and cavities.
Preventative Care Saves Money
Preventative dentistry has been shown to result in less expensive and less extensive dental care throughout the lifetime of a patient. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every one dollar invested in the fluoridation of community water sources, 38 dollars are saved in dental treatment costs. In addition, Medicaid dental programs whose communities provide fluoridated water cost half the amount of the programs that operate in non-fluoridated communities.
Preventative care is imperative, especially in children, for avoiding painful dental complications that eventually lead to emergency visits, Collins said. The CDC says that a comparable three-year Medicaid reimbursement for a patient shows that emergency treatment can cost around $6,498 compared to preventative treatment in the same patient, which costs around $660.
“Many patients who can’t afford preventative care or avoid it because they are too busy or too anxious to visit the dentist put off much-needed preventative care,” Collins said. “They often only seek treatment once the problem has escalated to extreme pain, which may require a visit to an emergency room if it wakes them in the middle of the night, for example.”
Meta-description: Preventative dental care can save money.
Keywords: cavities, decay, fluoride, sealants, preventative
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788