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Californians Visiting Emergency Rooms for Preventable Dental Care

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Aired 4/20/09

 

In 2007, more than 83-thousand Californians visited an emergency room for something that could have been prevented at the dentist's office. A new study from the California HealthCare Foundation says that phenomenon is taking its toll on patients and the medical system. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

 

The study reveals in San Diego County in 2007, 46-hundred people went to an emergency room for dental problems.

 

Statewide, a higher percentage of people go to ERs for dental conditions than for diabetes.

 

Dr. Len Finocchio is with the California HealthCare Foundation. He says there's a big problem with a lack of access.

 

"There are millions of Californians who are not able to a dentist regularly for a couple of different reasons," Finocchio says. "One could be that they don’t have dental insurance, or they just can't afford it." 

 

More than three million adults on Medi-Cal will lose their dental coverage in July. Finocchio says that will probably drive even more people to ERs for dental care.

 

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.  

 

 

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