You have been ignoring that nagging “twinge” in your lower right molar for the past few months, but now the pain is unbearable. It is 10:30 on a Friday night. Toothaches can be very painful, but painful enough to send you to the emergency room?

It is estimated that nationally more than 2 million people, the majority of them adults, showed up in the emergency room with dental pain in 2010. This number has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to a 2012 study by the American Dental Association. Researchers found the uninsured, young adults age 19-34 have the highest number of ER visits for dental pain not related to trauma. Approximately 10% of all ER visits are related to dental pain, and the majority of dental ER visits (80%) were for preventable conditions like abscesses and cavities.

Most emergency rooms are not equipped with dental x-ray units or have a dentist on staff to effectively address dental pain. Unfortunately, the usual course is to treat the patient with antibiotics for infections, while the underlying problem remains. Without follow up visits to a dentist, some patients will find themselves back in the ER again. As you can imagine, at a significant expense!

The majority of dental emergencies can be prevented with regular dental visits. Tooth decay, which is almost entirely preventable, is the most common chronic illness among school age children. Left untreated, it can result in infection, pain, loss of teeth, and sometimes acute infection that could lead to death.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 50% of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Advanced gum disease has been associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Professional dental cleanings greatly reduce this risk and help prevent the advancement of gum disease another leading cause of dental pain.

Preventing dental disease begins at home with brushing after each meal and flossing daily. Professional dental cleanings and fluoride go a long way to reduce expensive dental treatment, time and agony.

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Jeffery R. Van Treese, D.D.S. has been providing comprehensive dentistry and caring for patients in Sidney since 1987. His practice is located at 2627 Broadway Avenue in Sidney. For a free consultation, he may be reached at 937-492- 6984 or