Virginia Dental Association: With COVID-19 Cases Overwhelming Hospitals, Patients with Oral Pain Should Visit Dentist Instead of ER

Up to 4 in 5 dental-related emergency department visits could be diverted to a dental office or other healthcare setting

RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 20, 2021) – After Dr. Scott Berman was elected to his one-year term as Virginia Dental Association president last weekend, he made an immediate request to the public: Go to a dentist for urgent oral care needs.

“If a person is experiencing mouth or jaw pain, the first call should always be to a dentist, before you show up at a hospital,” Berman said. “Seeking care first from a dentist will allow most patients to have the root cause of their issue addressed more quickly and is also an important way to prevent emergency departments seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases from becoming overwhelmed. Many dentists can fit patients in immediately to help alleviate pain.”

“It’s also imperative that Virginians do their part by getting vaccinated,” continued Dr. Berman. “You should talk to your dentist or another trusted health care professional if you have any questions.”

According to research by the Health Policy Institute (HPI) at the American Dental Association, the use of emergency rooms for nonurgent or preventable medical conditions is a growing public health concern in the United States.

Evidence collected by HPI in 2018 suggests that up to 78 percent of dental-related emergency room visits nationwide could be diverted to a dentist office or other healthcare setting.

“It’s essential that people avoid the hospital if they don’t need to go,” Berman added. “Oral pain can be scary, but dentists are available to diagnose conditions and provide care and relief. One of the best ways to prevent oral pain is to schedule regular preventative dental care and address issues as they arise before they compound and become more dangerous.” 

Thanks to a new adult Medicaid benefit that began July 1, more Virginians than ever have access to oral healthcare.

The VDA launched a campaign with the Virginia Department of Health in August to encourage people to return to the dentist. Public service announcements are airing on TV and radio stations throughout the commonwealth, reminding people that their oral health impacts their overall health and the importance of regular checkups.

VDA members have implemented new measures to ensure the safety of patients, dentists and team members during the pandemic.

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About the Virginia Dental Association

The Virginia Dental Association is affiliated with the American Dental Association and has 4,000 members across the Commonwealth. The VDA’s mission is to represent and serve member dentists by fostering quality oral health care and education. The VDA provides continuing education, advocacy and practice support for its member dentists to further that mission.

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