Children’s Use of Emergency Departments for Non-Traumatic Dental Conditions

Published 06/22/2023

Spotlight on Florida

Previous reports from CareQuest Institute have analyzed why and how frequently adults visit an emergency department (ED) for dental conditions that could be best treated in a dental setting. This report is the first to explore children’s use of EDs for non-traumatic dental conditions (NTDCs), finding that Florida had the highest rate of ED visits for children and the highest average charge for these visits, compared to all other states for which data is available.  

Additional key findings for children in Florida include: 

  • There were 26.7 ED visits for NTDCs per 10,000 children in Florida, compared to approximately 17 in Wisconsin and 8 in Utah. 
  • Black boys had the highest rate of ED NTDC visits at 50.2 visits per 10,000 children. 
  • Medicaid covered 80.6% of ED NTDC visits for children in Florida, compared to approximately 77% in Wisconsin and 56% in Utah. 
  • Florida had the highest average charge for ED NTDC visits, ranging from $1,900 to $2,600 depending on the age of the child. 

Researchers found that nationally, children who visit EDs for NTDCs are more likely to be uninsured or covered by Medicaid and live in lower-income households. Children with two or more chronic health conditions are more likely to be hospitalized for NTDCs than children without a chronic health condition. 

The authors of the report state that reducing these costly and preventable ED visits for NTDCs is of vital importance, both for ED capacity and because oral health has far-reaching consequences for the overall health and well-being of children. 

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