ER Visits for Dental Complaints on the Rise in Tenn.

Mar 7, 2012

CHICAGO (AP) — New research shows that more Americans are turning to the emergency room for routine dentalproblems, and Tennessee is no exception.

A study released by the Pew Center on the States found that the number of ER visits nationwide for dentalproblems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009.

Dr. Steven Turner is an ER physician at Summit Medical Center here in Middle Tennessee. He says ER docs see a lot of patients with dental complaints.

"Dental complaints is one of the more common things that people come to the ER for. It does seem primarily to be related to financial issues; inability to get in out-patient dental facilities. (We) tend to see several patients every day for dental related complaints."

Turner says that it’s not uncommon to see patients with such severe oral infections that chocking is a real concern. 

The Pew study says a shortages of dentists, including those who treat Medicaid patients, are part of the problem.