What Is the Hospital Cost of a Dental Emergency?
Sadly, in our recent recession, many Americans have put dental health on the back burner. In the long run, this ends up hurting our pocketbooks and overall health.
When the economy was at its lowest from 2006 to 2009, there was a 16% increase in dental-related hospital emergencies, most due to preventable dental problems, according to a PBS Frontline News story.
Unfortunately, this will continue to be a problem until more Americans start including preventative dentistry in their necessary health expense budgets. Without regular dental visits for preventive care and maintenance, small problems are not caught early and can become big problems quickly, requiring emergency care.
Without a regular dentist, many sufferers of dental emergencies turn to the ER for help. At most hospitals, there are no dentists available to treat tooth-related pain, swelling, and other emergencies that bring people seeking treatment. This leaves physicians with limited options, often only providing a “band-aid” of prescription pain medication and/or an antibiotic without addressing the source of the pain or infection – the tooth itself.
Dental Emergencies Are Expensive
Not only is the emergency room unequipped to solve the underlying dental health problem, but the visit usually costs 10 times more than seeing a dentist to address the same problem, according to the same PBS News story.
The financial impact of untreated dental disease extends beyond the cost of a hospital emergency room visit. In the short term, losing school or work days due to unresolved dental problems means lost wages or wasted tuition dollars. And over the long term, the practical reality is that people with healthy smiles are often promoted to better jobs, making a more lasting financial impact.
The Physical and Psychological Cost of Dental Emergencies
More research is now shedding light on how dental health or disease is intimately linked to an individual’s overall health and their overall well being. Dental pain and broken or missing teeth impacts an individual’s diet, nutrition, and ability to chew.
Psychological well being is also affected: it’s hard to feel confident with a painful or gaping smile!
Moreover, research is showing that dental disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia, and other major systemic diseases. Investing now in your dental health can help prevent major health events in the future (stay posted for a follow-up article on this soon).
Simply seeing your dentist and hygienist twice a year for your oral health checkups and preventative maintenance will keep you on the path to a lifetime of healthy teeth, good nutrition, and maximizing your overall health.