Trends in dental-related emergency department visits in the State of California from 2005 to 2011

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Abstract

Objective.

Objectives of this study were to provide trends in hospital-based emergency department (ED) visits involving dental conditions in California and to identify clinical and patient characteristics associated with these trends.

Study Design.

We used 2005 to 2011 data from the California Emergency Department Database. We examined all ED visits related to dental conditions.

Results.

During the study period (2005–2011), 402,077 ED visits were attributed to dental conditions. The number of ED visits that were dental-related increased from 44,516 (in 2005) to 70,385 (in 2011). Most of these visits were for dental caries (44.0%) and pulp/periapical lesions (48.6%) in 2011. Nearly one third of patients visiting the ED were uninsured, and the percentage of Medicaid patients increased from 30.3% in 2006 to 35.1% in 2011.

Conclusions.

The number and rate of visits to the ED for dental-related problems has increased substantially in recent years in California. A large proportion of these patients are uninsured and those covered by Medicaid.

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