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Letters: Dental operatories in the ER

November 17, 2014

I  agree with Dr. Cecile A. Feldman that dental emergency room visits are often expensive and overused (“Emergency Room Is No Place For a Toothache,” Aug. 18 ADA News).

However, I believe that all hospitals with over 200 beds that deliver primary care medicine should have an emergency room dental component.

One or two dental operatories could be developed to accommodate dental ER patients. They could be manned by dental attendings and/or dental general practice residents as part of a formal GPR residency program. The dental operatory could be part of urgent care of the emergency room. If the hospital does not have a dental education program, volunteer dentists in the community could be welcomed to the hospital staff.

As chairman and GPR program director, I believe that every resident should be thoroughly trained in emergency care and pain management in dentistry. The best place for training and experience is the emergency room.

Emergency room dental treatment could be ineffective because it was delivered by inexperienced physicians, physician assistants or nurses with little or no diagnostic back-up to assist them.

Unfortunately, all emergency room visits are expensive especially when the patient does not have adequate insurance coverage. Recognizing the overutilization of all ER facilities it is important to maintain the hospital portal for all dental emergencies as a health care partner and as a vital segment of residency training programs.

Burton S. Wasserman, D.D.S.
Program Director
Department of Dental and Oral Medicine
New York Hospital Queens
Flushing, New York