A systematic review of dental-related emergency department among Medicaid beneficiaries

J Public Health Dent. 2021 Dec;81(4):280-289. doi: 10.1111/jphd.12458. Epub 2021 Jun 2.


Objectives: Dental-related emergency department (ED) visits are a growing public health concern. Dental insurance coverage is a strong predictor of dental service access. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review to assess the incidence of dental-related ED visits for Medicaid dental enrollees compared to those with other insurances.

Methods: PubMed, EMBASE, and Google Scholar were searched for surveillance and observational data published in English from January 1999 to April 2020 to address the following PECOT question: Do patients with nontraumatic dental conditions (NTDC) (P1), or patients with any dental condition (P2) who have Medicaid (E) compared to other insurance status (private insurance, Medicare, no insurance) (C) have a differential incidence of single dental-related ED visits (O) in the literature search results from 1999 to April 2020 (T)? A critical appraisal was performed using a combination of the AXIS tool (for cross-sectional studies with observational data and MetaQAT (for public health evidence).

Results: This systematic review included 32 studies. Overall, risk of bias was low. Due to significant statistical heterogeneity, a synthesis without meta-analysis was conducted. NTDC ED visits ranged from 16.0 percent to 79.8 percent for Medicaid patients and 0.9 percent to 57.2 percent for uninsured patients. The range for any dental visit to the ED was 2.2-63.8 percent for Medicaid patients and 2.9-40.8 percent for uninsured patients.

Conclusions: The results of this study support expanding insurance coverage in Medicaid programs to reduce ED use for NTDC visits in the United States.

Keywords: dental health services; emergency service; hospital; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Care
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Medicaid*
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Medicare*
  • United States