OBJECTIVE: Objectives of this study were to provide trends in hospital-based emergency department (ED) visits involving dental conditions in California and to identify clinical and patient characteristics associated with these trends.
STUDY DESIGN: We used 2005 to 2011 data from the California Emergency Department Database. We examined all ED visits related to dental conditions.
RESULTS: During the study period (2005-2011), 402,077 ED visits were attributed to dental conditions. The number of ED visits that were dental-related increased from 44,516 (in 2005) to 70,385 (in 2011). Most of these visits were for dental caries (44.0%) and pulp/periapical lesions (48.6%) in 2011. Nearly one third of patients visiting the ED were uninsured, and the percentage of Medicaid patients increased from 30.3% in 2006 to 35.1% in 2011.
CONCLUSIONS: The number and rate of visits to the ED for dental-related problems has increased substantially in recent years in California. A large proportion of these patients are uninsured and those covered by Medicaid.