2015 Emergency Department Visits for Dental Problems Indicator Report

Purpose of the Health Indicator Report

To provide information on emergency department (ED) visits for oral health problems in Halton Region and Ontario.

Background

Maintaining good oral health is an important component of an individual’s overall health. Brushing, flossing, and visiting a dental care provider regularly can help maintain good oral health.1 However, many Canadians avoid receiving dental care because of the cost.2 Untreated oral health problems can lead to visits to the emergency department which are costly for the healthcare system.3 Furthermore, patients typically only receive prescriptions for antibiotics and/or pain killers at emergency departments, and not the treatment that they need to resolve their oral health problem.4

Oral health problems include diseases of the oral cavity, salivary glands, and jaws, such as abscesses and toothaches. Injuries are not included. Data are presented as both counts (number of visits to the ED for oral health problems), and rates (number of ED visits for oral health problems per 100,000 population).

This health indicator report uses data from IntelliHEALTH Ontario’s National Ambulatory Care Reporting System.

Key Findings

  • In 2015, there were 968 ED visits for oral health problems in Halton, and 60,020 in all of Ontario.
  • In 2015, the age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems was two and a half times higher in Ontario compared to Halton, and this difference was statistically significant.
  • From 2006 to 2015 the age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems in Ontario increased from 413 visits per 100,000 to 454 visits per 100,000 and this increase was statistically significant.
  • There were no statistically significant changes in the age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems in Halton from 2006 to 2015.

Sex

  • In 2015, there were 491 ED visits for oral health problems among Halton males and 477 ED visits for oral health problems among Halton females.
  • There was no statistically significant difference in the age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems between males and females in Halton in 2015 (189 visits per 100,000 for males and 167 visits per 100,000 for females.

Age

  • When looking at number of visits in 2015, there were 170 ED visits for children and youth under age 20, 662 ED visits among adults aged 20-64, and 136 ED visits among adults aged 65 and over.
  • In 2015, the age-specific rate of ED visits for oral health problems was highest among those aged 20-29, and then generally decreased as age increased.

Municipality

  • In 2015, there were 269 ED visits for oral health problems among Burlington residents, 205 ED visits among Oakville residents, 189 visits among Milton residents and 305 visits among Halton Hills residents.
  • The age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health issues was highest among residents of Halton Hills (329 visits per 100,000) followed by Milton (231 visits per 100,000), Oakville (157 visits per 100,000), and Burlington (146 visits per 100,000). These differences were statistically significant when comparing Halton Hills to all other municipalities and when comparing Milton to Burlington and Oakville.

Neighbourhood Income

  • In 2013-2015 combined, the age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems decreased as neighbourhood income increased, and these differences were statistically significant (374 visits per 100,000 for the low income group, 223 visits per 100,000 for the middle income group, and 174 visits per 100,000 for the high income group).
  • While the lowest income group had the highest age-standardized rate of ED visits for oral health problems, there were only an average of 49 ED visits per year from 2013-2015 among residents living in neighbourhoods in the low income group. This is due to the relatively small number of low income neighbourhoods in Halton Region. In comparison, there were an average of 255 ED visits per year among residents in the middle income group and 598 ED visits per year among residents in the high income group. 
     

References

  1. Canadian Dental Association. 2015. Oral health – good for life. Accessed May 20th 2015, from http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/cfyt/good_for_life/ (external link)
  2. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Report on access to dental care and oral health inequalities in Ontario. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario; 2012.
  3. College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. 2014. Review of oral health services in Ontario. Accessed June 2016 from http://www.cdho.org (external link)
  4. Quiñonez, C., Gibson, D., Jokovic, A., & Locker, D. (2009). Emergency department visits for dental care of nontraumatic origin. Community dentistry and oral epidemiology, 37(4), 366-371.