Dental problems common cause of ER visits
By John Fritze, USA TODAY
Just before 3 a.m., Sidney Lawhorn and his wife sit on a bed in the emergency department. She's wrapped in a white sheet to stay warm. He's nursing the toothache that prompted his hour-long drive here.
"I had a tooth pulled about 10 days ago and, yesterday, it got to hurting real bad, Lawhorn, 26, says, his speech slightly slurred by Novocain. "My dentist is on vacation. ... They told me if it got too bad to come up to the emergency room. It just got too bad, so I came up here. ... It's the only place I do come."
Dental visits are the fifth-most-common reason for a visit to the UVA Medical Center. Lawhorn says he doesn't have dental insurance or health insurance. That's part of the reason why he ends up in the emergency room a couple of times a year or, '"whenever something happens," he says. "A toothache's got to be about the worst thing there is."
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