Dental Emergencies in Utah: Is the ER the best option?

Did you know over the last 13 years, there were nearly 56,000 admissions to Utah hospital emergency departments for dental care related to non-traumatic and preventable diagnoses? This resulted in a nearly $52 million tab.

Michelle Martin, RDH and Oral Health Specialist with the Utah Health Department, writes about the impact that these visits are having in our emergency departments, to our communities, and to our patients. She also was able to present this information at the Utah Coalition of Oral Health meeting this month. Of course, we know that prevention and regular routine visits could help stop these

emergency department visits. Some prevention methods she recommends are:

• Increase after-hours and urgent care dental clinics • Integrate oral health into well child visits, as children are more likely to see a pediatrician or family doctor before they see a dentist • Increase areas with community water fluoridation • Implement teledentistry (i.e., a dental team provides preventive and restorative care to populations without access to dental care such as Utahns living in rural areas of the state) and professionals practicing at the top of the scope of their licenses

What do you think we could do as dental hygienists and dental professionals to help?