Study Evaluates the Impact of Dental Office Closures During COVID-19 on Dental Conditions Among Children

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by International Association for Dental Research

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A study evaluating the impact of dental office closures due to the pandemic on the share of dental conditions on hospital emergency departments (EDs) among Medicaid/CHIP-eligible children was presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the AADOCR, in conjunction with the 47th Annual Meeting of the CADR. The AADOCR/CADR Annual Meeting & Exhibition took place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on March 15-18, 2023.

Shulamite S. Huang of New York University led the study that analyzed 2018-2020 New York Medicaid claims data for trends in dental and dental-related medical care utilization among publicly insured children (N=3.2 million beneficiaries; n=2.6 million claims). A difference-in-differences approach was used to characterize the change in the dental-related ED burden before, during, and after dental office closures due to the pandemic across New York State.

After controlling for seasonality, an overall 30.3% increase (p<0.01) in the share of dental conditions in the ED was found in weeks 11 to 52 of 2020. Although the increase in the dental-related ED burden was concentrated in weeks 11 to 22 (corresponding to March-May) in 2020 during dental practice closures (41.9% increase above same weeks in prior years, p<0.01), the increase was sustained through the reopening period (25.6% increase, p<0.01). During dental office closures, the increase was due to substitution towards EDs and away from dental clinics for dental care. During the reopening period, the sustained increase in the dental-related ED burden was due to dental care utilization across all settings (dental practices and ED) recovering to pre-pandemic levels faster than all-cause ED visits.

The study concluded that the lack of access to dental care during a time of significant healthcare system strain led to additional burden on EDs, and that future work is warranted to examine how to maintain dental care access during times of healthcare system strain.

More information: This research was presented as part of the Interactive Talk presentation, "COVID-19 Dental Office Closures Increased Dental Burden in Emergency Departments," which took place on Thursday, March 16th, 2023, at 11:10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-07:00) during the "COVID-19 Impact on Dental Services" session from 11 a.m.—12:30 p.m.

Provided by International Association for Dental Research

Citation: Study evaluates the impact of dental office closures during COVID-19 on dental conditions among children (2023, March 17) retrieved 17 March 2023 from

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