HealthDay News — Antibiotics and opioids are frequently prescribed during emergency department visits for dental conditions, according to a study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Rebecca M. Roberts, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues examined data from the IBM MarketScan Research Databases in Treatment Pathways (2012 through 2014). The authors identified patients with commercial insurance or enrolled in Medicaid who received a diagnosis of a nontraumatic dental condition in the emergency department with no secondary diagnosis warranting an antibiotic prescription.

The researchers found that a higher proportion of Medicaid beneficiaries (4.9 percent) had dental-related visits versus commercially insured patients (1.3 percent), but for both groups, the highest rate of dental-related emergency department visits was seen for the 18- to 34-year-old age group. The most common diagnoses (e.g., caries) were similar between groups. Within seven days of a dental-related emergency department visit, prescriptions for an antibiotic were filled by 54.9 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries and 55.0 percent of commercially insured beneficiaries, while 39.6 percent of Medicaid patients and 42.0 percent of commercially insured patients filled an opioid prescription.

“Data-driven solutions, such as guideline implementation, could improve oral health access, reduce medication-related harms, and avert health care expenditures,” the authors write.

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