Virginia Dental Association Urges Patients to Visit Dentist for Oral Pain to Ease Hospital Overcrowding

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

As the latest COVID-19 surge continues to strain emergency rooms, and with Governor Northam’s emergency order to expand hospital capacity in Virginia, leaders from the Virginia Dental Association are urging patients go to the dentist for pressing oral care needs.

Dr. Omar Abubaker, D.M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the VCU School of Dentistry and member of the Virginia Dental Association released the following statement as COVID-19 hospitalizations reached an all-time single-day high last Friday:

“If you are experiencing mouth or jaw pain, call a dentist before going to overcrowded emergency rooms. Seeking care first from a dentist will allow most patients to have the root cause of their issue addressed more quickly, while helping to relieve Virginia’s strained hospital system due to the latest COVID-19 surge. Many dentists can fit patients in immediately to help alleviate pain.”

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.

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

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