ADA responds to latest Pew report

The ADA agrees with much of the report, A Costly Dental Destination, released February 28 by the Pew Center on the States.

The report points to the burden placed on already strained hospital emergency departments by patients needing dental care, the association noted in a press release. The ADA said the report validates what it has been saying for years: Too many Americans face barriers that impede their ability to get dental care.

"People in pain often have no recourse other than seeking care in hospital emergency rooms," the ADA stated in a press release. "Most emergency rooms (ERs) can treat only symptoms by dispensing antibiotics and pain medication, palliatives that provide only temporary relief, meaning that the problem will persist."

A study conducted last year by the South Carolina Dental Association showed that treatment for an abscessed tooth in a hospital emergency department -- which in the majority of cases cannot cure the underlying problem -- costs Medicaid on average $236 while the same problem treated by a private dentist would cost the program $107, the ADA noted.

"With Medicaid funding for dental care already woefully inadequate in so many states, this is a waste of precious resources on ineffective treatment," the association stated.

States can and must do more to address oral health disparities, and the best strategy is to ensure proper preventive measures, according to the ADA.

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