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Avoid the ER for Dental Emergencies

Avoid the ER for Dental Emergencies

Every year, millions of people go to the hospital for dental problems. Whether it’s an abscess, a lost or broken tooth, or swelling, people rush to the ER to get treatment. Decades ago, when dentists were 8-5 Monday through Friday, this could be understood. But, when most dentists offer off-hours treatment this is no longer the best option when you’re in pain. In the North Miami Beach area, you can call Dr. Jean-Jacque Edderai 24 hours a day at 305-947-7999.

According to a study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, in the state of Florida, trips to the ER for dental problems is costing millions in taxpayer money every year. Within the past decade, trips to the ER for dental problems rose by 57 percent. Half of the $193.4 million came from Medicare and Medicaid. This is a pointless expense since modern emergency rooms are not equipped to do anything for you. All they can do is give you a painkiller and/or antibiotic and tell you to go to a dentist.

The question then becomes, if dentists are more available then ever for emergencies, why are people still flocking to hospitals? Part of it may have to do with the Medicare/caid program in itself. In some states, like Florida, Medicaid only has to cover emergencies related to dentures, draining abscesses, and extracting teeth. Adding an option to pay online has helped some people, but it is not the only measure that we should be taking.

Since less than 10% of Florida dentists take Medicaid, many people aren’t getting desperately needed root canals and fillings. So the damage, then the pain, get worse. Until patients are out of options. The flux of people to the ER can’t be placed directly on Medicaid though. Nearly 40% of those who went to the ER for dental problems paid cash.

If there was a greater focus on prevention, then a lot of these visits could be avoided. If the $1500 per ER visit was put towards early treatment and education, we would see fewer problems, period. Another step we should be taking, as a country, is to cover routine visits and fillings. It is a twisted notion that people should have to be in excruciating pain before they can get the help they need. We don’t just see this in dental insurance, health insurance almost never covers preventative measures (one exception being birth control).

As a dentist, it is difficult to see a person with tooth pain, which is arguably the worst type of pain. By the time a person is in pain, a special procedure is a given. You are not going to go in with tooth pain, get a shot in the arm and be on your way. By the time there is pain, drilling, and filling, and applying crowns are all likely outcomes. If we instead took the time and put the money into educating people, we could save time, money, comfort, and even lives.

Before treating gum, tooth, or other oral problems consult with Dr. JJ Edderai. A dental check-up every three to four months will allow Dr. Edderai to keep a watchful eye on your oral health and prevent cavities before they start. For answers to some of the most commonly asked questions, visit my FAQ page at

Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2016