Serious and potentially fatal dental infections are the cause of a growing number of hospitalizations, according to a study in the September edition of the Journal of Endodontics.
The study covered a 9-year period from 2000 to 2008, using data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample. The NIS is the largest publicly available all-payer inpatient-care database in America.
The study culled data from the NIS which showed the number of patients hospitalized with dental abscesses increased by more than 40%, from 5,727 in 2000 to 8,141 in 2008. The study also revealed 66 patients died during the nine-year period. Uninsured patients accounted for 18.5% of the total hospitalizations. Medicare paid for 18.7%, Medicaid paid for 25.2% and private insurance paid for 33.4% of those hospitalizations.
“We have not had verification before of the number of deaths,” Dr. Frank Catalanotto, chairman of the department of community dentistry and behavioral science at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, told the New York Times. “The seriousness of dental infections that go untreated or are treated too late is a bigger problem than we had estimated.”
The findings highlight the serious national problem of lack of access to affordable dental care.