Spotlight on Arizona: Adult Use of Emergency Departments for Non-Traumatic Dental Conditions

Published 10/01/2021

When people lack access to regular dental care, they often resort to visiting hospital emergency departments (EDs) for care — visits that are often costly and fail to address the underlying condition. This ineffective and inefficient system is not new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated it. At a time when ED capacity is strained, reducing preventable dental visits in these settings is of vital importance.

This visual report from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, based on data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), focuses on ED visits for non-traumatic dental conditions (NTDC) in Arizona.

Key findings include:

  • In Arizona, adults ages 25 – 34 have the highest rate of ED use for NTDC, with about 95 visits per 10,000 people.
  • Black residents in Arizona have the highest rate of ED use for NTDC, nearly three times higher than the rate for white residents and for Hispanic residents.
  • Adults enrolled in Medicaid (61.4%) or who were uninsured (15.7%) made nearly 8 in 10 ED visits for NTDCs among patients ages 21 – 64.

The visual report also touches on promising solutions to expand access to care.

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