If you ignore your dental problems, they will not go away. They will get worse. That’s why so many people end up at the emergency room with severe periodontal disease.
Gum Disease and the Emergency Room
A new study published in the June 2011 issue of Journal of Periodontology said that in 2006, patients paid a total of $33.3 million on emergency treatment for periodontal issues at hospital emergency facilities.
DrBicuspid.com Hygiene Community provides more information about the study:
From more than 120.03 million hospital-based ED [emergency department] visits, 85,039 had a mean charge per visit of $456.31, and total charges close to $33.3 million were primarily attributed to gingival and periodontal conditions, the researchers reported.
They also found that close to 36% and 33% of all visits occurred among the lowest income group and uninsured population, respectively, while the total ED charges for those covered by Medicare was nearly $4.95 million, $9.14 million for Medicaid patients, $8.01 million for patients with private insurance, $920,000 for those with other insurance plans, and $10.06 million for the uninsured.
More than 94 % of visits were discharged routinely from the ED, while inpatient admission to the same hospital was required for 1,167 visits.
The article also mentioned that in some cases, the patient sought emergency treatment for a separate illness and was treated for severe periodontitis while still at the hospital because it may have posed a threat to the patient’s other condition.
Dealing with Periodontal Disease
Emergency departments are not adequately equipped to treat severe periodontal disease, so if you have gum issues, don’t wait until the last minute to seek treatment. Here are some warning signs that you may need call your family dentist:
- You have swollen or red gums
- Your gums are tender
- Your gums bleed easily when brushing
- Your teeth fit together differently when biting
- Your teeth have changed position
If you brush and floss daily, and if you see the dentist for a cleaning at least once or twice a year, you will go a long way in avoiding gum disease.
Dental emergencies like a broken tooth or other traumatic injury often need emergency care, and the ER is a helpful alternative if you can’t get in contact with your dentist. However, severe periodontal disease typically occurs as a result of neglect. At that point, the hospital cannot do much to correct the problem. A dental professional must assess the situation and provide the appropriate treatment.