Use of Emergency Departments and Inpatient Care for Conditions Related to Poor Oral Health Care

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2007
Project completed:
August 2010
Persistent and worsening shortages of oral health care providers in rural areas, combined with limited acceptance of low-income and uninsured patients, has left many rural patients without adequate access to dental care. Poor oral health can lead to myriad serious medical problems, and anecdotal evidence indicates that patients are being treated in emergency departments (EDs) and inpatient settings for problems that might have been prevented with adequate oral health care. This study will investigate the extent to which EDs and inpatient settings are used to treat problems related to poor oral health, the charges for such care, and variations in the use of these services by patient and area characteristics.

The principal data sources will be the State Emergency Department Databases and State Inpatient Databases available as part of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. We will select a range of study states representing multiple regions of the country and differing levels of rurality. These databases will be supplemented by data on HPSA dental shortage designations, Medicaid dental coverage, and area characteristics. Key products will include a Final Report and a Brief.