Emergency Departments Are No Place for Dental Care

Millions of Americans lack access to routine dental care and resort to visiting hospital emergency departments (EDs) for non-traumatic dental conditions (NTDCs).

Most patient needs could be addressed more effectively in a dental office at a much lower cost. To expand oral health access for those (and all) patients, we need policy changes at the federal and state level.

Image of doctors rushing patient into the emergency department

National Trends in ED Use for Dental Conditions

Thumbnail Recent Trends in Hospital ED Visits

Recent Trends in Hospital Emergency Department Visits for Non-Traumatic Dental Conditions

Patients most likely to visit the ED for an NTDC are 25-34 years old, uninsured or have Medicaid coverage, live in a rural area, or have an income below $48,000 per year. These trends reflect persistent inequities in Americans’ access to dental care.  


Repeated Use of Emergency Departments for Non-Traumatic Dental Conditions: Factors Associated with Being a "Superutilizer"

Superutilizers visit the ED for NTDCs four or more times in a year. Who are superutilizers and what drives their repeat visits?

Spotlight on the States

Adult use of emergency departments for dental conditions varies by state and is dependent on factors such as the level of adult dental benefits available in the state Medicaid program. These reports analyze data at the state level.