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Report: Utahns Visited EDs for Oral Health Issues More Often than Dental Offices

A report published by the Utah Department of Health Oral Health Program suggests the area’s dental provider shortage is causing more residents to seek dental care in the emergency department than dental offices

A report published by the Utah Department of Health Oral Health Program suggests the area’s dental provider shortage is causing more residents to seek dental care in the emergency department than dental offices. Approximately 54% of people in Utah reside in a dental health professional shortage area, according to the report.

Nearly $52 million was spent in emergency departments for dental care related to non-traumatic and preventable diagnoses between 2007 and 2012. The majority of visits occurred outside regular business hours, and patients were often treated for pain and/or infection and not the source of the dental complaint. Of the 56,000 emergency department admissions, the majority of visits (86.3%) were made by the working-age group 20-64 years of age. The number one payer for this group was self-pay/no charge.

The report, “An Analysis of Utah’s Emergency Department Non-Traumatic Dental Visits 2007-2017,” suggests stakeholders consider cost-effective strategies such as teledentistry, implementing the practice of dental therapy, integrating oral health into primary care settings to tackle the state’s oral health challenges.

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