Caries causing Emergency Room visits


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Emergency Departments (ED) across the United States have seen a surge in demand for patients seeking care for toothaches.

“In 2009 and 2010, 20- to 29-year-olds made an estimated 1.27 million ED visits for toothaches and accounted for 42% of all ED toothache visits. Toothache was the fifth most common reason for any ED visit and third most common for uninsured ED visits by 20- to 29-year-olds.”1

If you or someone you know has a toothache, then, come see me, I will treat you compassionately. I will give you all possible appropriate options: filling, crown, root canal, extraction, bone graft, implant. The ER is NOT equipped to help you. ERs are a great tool and they are the bedrock of health maintenance for our society. I have been there more than once and I am grateful – it is entirely reasonable to say that they saved my life, and Katie’s life, too. But, they are super busy and not interested in toothaches.

“More than one-quarter (28 percent) [of EDs] report significant increases in all emergency patients since the requirement to have health insurance took effect.”2

I completed an emergency extraction for a patient on Tuesday. Here is an ER doctor’s musing on toothaches.

“If you have a toothache, you are in the wrong place. If your dentist sent you here, give us the phone number so we can yell at him. We are not dentists. We don’t do dental x-rays, pull teeth, or replace fillings. If there is some other concern, we will be happy to address that. Otherwise, Tylenol or Motrin.”3

  1. 1.American Dental Association, “” accessed on 5/13/15)

  2. 2.American College of Emergency Physicians. “” accessed on 5/13/15

  3. 3.ACEP Now, “” accessed on 5/13/15


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