Impact of a community dental access program on emergency dental admissions in rural Maryland

Sandi Rowland, Jonathon P. Leider, Clare Davidson, Joanne Brady, Alana Knudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives. To characterize the expansion of a community dental access program (CDP) in rural Maryland providing urgent dental care to low-income individuals, as well as the CDP's impact on dental-related visits to a regional emergency department (ED). Methods. We used de-identified CDP and ED claims data to construct a data set of weekly counts of CDP visits and dental-related ED visits among Maryland adults. A time series model examined the association over time between visits to the CDP and ED visits for fiscal years (FYs) 2011 through 2015. Results. The CDP served approximately 1600 unique clients across 2700 visits during FYs 2011 through 2015. The model suggested that if the CDP had not provided services during that time period, about 670 more dental-related visits to the ED would have occurred, resulting in $215 000 more in charges. Conclusions. Effective ED dental diversion programs can result in substantial cost savings to taxpayers, and more appropriate and cost-effective care for the patient. Policy Implications. Community dental access programs may be a viable way to patch the dental safety net in rural communities while holistic solutions are developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2165-2170
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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