For many adults, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration isn’t complete without a trip to the dentist, and as NBC News has reported, this year’s holiday was no exception.
According to data collected by Sikka Software, emergency dental visits “skyrocket” by an average of 64% between March 17th and 18th. In some states, including Delaware, Mississippi, Maryland, and Nebraska, the number of emergency dental visits jumps by at least 150% on March 18th.
Oddly enough, there appears to be little correlation between March 18th emergency dental work and states with a higher population of residents of Irish descent, nor is there any connection to other demographic factors like religion or political views.
The only factor that seems to play a major role in post-St. Paddy’s Day dental visits is gender, according to NBC. The average 64% increase applies mostly to men — for women, emergency dental visits nationwide are about 6% lower on March 18th than on other days.
Despite being a predictable and short-lived annual trend every year, this huge increase in emergency dental visits can actually put quite a strain on healthcare clinics across the country. According to a recent study by the Health Policy Institute, the number of patients seeking dental care in hospital emergency rooms is increasing faster than the number of patients seeking other types of medical treatment.
Whether patients can’t afford to make regular dentist visits, or they simply procrastinate getting treatment for dental health problems, emergency rooms have become the destination for patients with severe dental issues. Without proper preventative care, dental problems can get out of hand very quickly — so it’s no surprise that the number of Americans needing major dental work is on the rise. The number of people with dental implants, for example, is increasing by an estimated 500,000 people per year.
Perhaps the St. Patrick’s Day dental spike isn’t the biggest problem faced by dentists and ER doctors today, but it certainly has brought attention to a trend that could put a lot of pressure on healthcare industry. Right now, patients seem to be more concerned with getting treatment — regardless of who provides it.
“[The ER is] a 24-hour, 7-day a week, easy access place,” explained Aaron Warren, the executive director of the Health Policy Institute. “They have to see you. When you walk into the ER, the doctor has to see you.”