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From the Emergency Room to the Dental Chair

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USA Today

News article highlights the effectiveness of ER referral programs.

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Emergency rooms throughout the country have seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for dental pain, from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million in 2010. The majority of these patients are suffering from dental decay that could easily have been prevented.

Most hospitals don’t have the facilities or staff to provide comprehensive dental care.  So many patients receive only antibiotics or pain medication, but the underlying dental problem is not addressed.  In too many cases, the patient returns to the emergency room with the same problem – or worse.

The problem, while worse among lower income brackets, affects people across the economic spectrum, as increasing numbers of adults forego regular dental care, for a variety of reasons.

Dentists collaborate with hospitals in unique ways to refer these patients to dental offices and clinics, where they can receive appropriate, effective treatment, treatment that is significantly less expensive than that available in a hospital. You can read about five ER referral models.

 Action for Dental Health aims to improve the nation’s oral health by delivering care now to those already suffering with disease, strengthening the dental safety net, and bringing dental health education and disease prevention into communities. ADH comprises eight initiatives designed to address specific barriers to care, and getting people out of the emergency room and into the dental chair is one of its primary goals.

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