Going to the dentist, as it turns out, is good for the economy. And could help save other people’s lives.
Recently released findings from a 2011 study of Michigan emergency rooms show that about 7,000 people visited the ER with what turned out to be wholly preventable dental problems.
Alex Rosaen, of the Anderson Economic Group, the organization that undertook the study, reveals that many of the patients actually had dental insurance, but did not use it. The hospitals were paid around $15 million to treat the ER patients, when the hospitals reported that the actual cost of treatment was four times that.
According to Rosaen, the money was spent for “conditions that started as dental conditions that could have been treated in a traditional dental setting, like a dentist’s office.”
Patients checked in with cavities and abscesses that had progressed to the point of intense pain. Of the 7,000 in the study, only about 1,000 ended up needing hospitalization.
The findings don’t suggest that the patients’ pain was less than an emergency situation. On the contrary, untreated dental pain can be quite severe. An abscessed tooth, for example, is caused by an infection of the nerve within a tooth, and can cause immense pain and swelling. In extreme cases, a patient may require an emergency root canal.
But are ERs equipped to deal with such dental emergencies? Most ERs will simply prescribe and administer painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs for tooth pain, since few employ round-the-clock dentists.
Emergency dental services do exist and, much like urgent care facilities, can help to relieve some of the pressure — both medical and financial — currently plaquing over-taxed emergency departments across the country.
Find your nearest emergency dental service now, before an emergency strikes. It’s good for your health… and good for the economy.