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Winter Park Dentistry- Emergency Dentistry and Dental Emergencies

Dr. Ramzi Matar:

Hello everybody. Today we are talking about emergency hospital visits for dental conditions. I’m going to be talking to you about dental emergencies, and people who end up in the emergency room for it. The information that I’m giving you today is from a newsletter that I get, called Oral Surgery Update, and it’s the winter 2015 newsletter, so it’s pretty pertinent information, it is now March of 2015. A lot of this information came from a study that the University of Iowa did, they tracked I think 3 years, 2008, 2009 and 2010, of hospital visits. I’m going to mainly quote the 2010 figures and some of the percentages, and I’m going to tell you how I feel it relates to my day-to-day practice.

There was 128,970,364 emergency room dental visits. I don’t think this is just the University of Iowa, I think this is nationwide, but all in all it turns out to be about 1% of all emergency room visits. Funny enough, I have an emergency room physician, who’s a patient of mine, and he actually quoted that same 1%, so it looks like that’s a pretty decent, at least from my understanding, fact that the emergency room dental visits are about 1% of their visits, which is a relatively small number. Average age was 33 years old. 51% of the patients were women, kind of interesting. 57% of cases involved decay, caries, dental decay. 2.7% had actual dental abscesses. As a dentist, and any dentist that you speak with, I think a lot more people think that they have abscesses than they actually do. A lot of times they have nerve pain, I’ll get into that briefly in a minute. But that sounds about right, only 2.7% of emergency room visits for dental visits were truly dental abscesses. The overwhelming majority, 57% was for decay, something very easily prevented. 94% of the time the patient was treated and discharged. 90%, this is a pretty important statistic I think for anybody watching this, of visits, no treatment was done. Which means they just got given prescriptions for usually antibiotics and pain medicine. Only about 4.3% ended up being admitted to the hospital, meaning this people were truly sick and they had a dental oriented infection that was causing some higher level of pain so they were admitted to the hospital.

Here’s the money number. The average ticket price for these was $760. When a patient goes into an emergency room, they have a huge work up that has to be done, and whether they have treatment or not, they have to legally do treatment, check everything out. They sometimes are doing CAT scans, and MRIs, and things to make sure and rule out problems, and most of the time, me as a dentist, when I see these people after they are discharged, and they come to me, I can very quickly and easily say with an X-ray, “this is definitely a dental problem, and the tooth needs some sort of treatment”. But the two most interesting statistics for me was that 90% of the time no treatment was done and the average ticket price was $760, which ends up to be about $1billion a year. $760 is a lot of dentistry. I’m a practicing dentist, I practice in Orlando, FL. For $760 I can take out a lot of teeth, I can do a good chunk of work on people, and I think most dentists would agree, it may not be able to fix everybody’s mouth, but it definitely fills out a chunk, it can fill a few cavities, maybe on a certain tooth do a root canal, to try and save a tooth, or in the case of removing teeth, we can take out several teeth for that kind of money. Depending on the tooth, the location, the difficulty… I say this because part of this is people don’t know where to go, a lot of people find themselves on a Saturday night with a toothache, it’s been getting progressively worse, and then it hits, and I deal with this also relatively often, as most dentists, when that toothache hits, it’s buckling, people can’t think, they can’t work, and they end up in the emergency room.

I guess probably my only take home for this video, for anybody watching this, try to get yourself established with a dentist. Most dentists are usually pretty accommodating for dental emergencies, if you’re having a problem, I know in Orlando there are a few 24 hour dentists, there’s emergency dentists. I know myself, between me and my partners, we always try to see our dental emergencies, whether it be Friday, Saturday, Sunday, within reason we always do our best to try to accommodate. We might not be able to do a bunch of treatment, because we don’t have our staff, but for the most part if you have a relationship with a dentist, at least I can vouch for here in Florida, or Orlando, if you find yourself with a problem there might be somebody on call, you might be able to pay somebody. Because ultimately for a dental problem, what it comes down to in the emergency room is just a pit stop, it’s usually just going to be getting there, getting some antibiotics, and you still have to go see a dentist, so ultimately for a dental emergency your best bet is to see a dentist. Some hospitals, especially teaching hospitals, if there’s a school nearby or an oral surgery program, like if you’re in Miami, or in Fort Lauderdale or in Gainesville, FL, or anywhere that there’s an oral surgery residency program, these statistics might be different, because you might be able to go to the emergency room and have an oral surgeon there, or a dental clinic on site. I’m referring to my local area, Orlando, Winter Park, Central Florida. Just thought I’d share these statistics, kind of interesting information, take care.