The lack of health insurance coverage for dental work is leading Estonians put off root canals at the risk of life-threatening infections.
The president of Estonia's ASsociation of Faciomaxillary Surgery, Marianne Soots, wrote a letter to the Health Insurance Fund saying it was "abnormal and impermissible" in the 21st century for people with odontogenic infections to wind up hospitalized.
"There is constantly some patients in inpatient wards and intensive care in Tallinn and Tartu hospitals who have an infection that started in a tooth. The treatment is complicated and expensive and it is not always possible to make a full recovery. The number of deaths related to infections remains stable," said Soots.
Abscesses under wisdom teeth that spread to vital organs in the head, neck and chest are especially dangerous, she said.
Soots says that the need for outpatient oral and faciomaxillary surgery is greater than the current service volume and workforce allow.
The association says it supports a proposal in the Health Insurance Fund to reinstate coverage for employed people. The support, around 20 euros per visit, was scrapped in 2009.
People up to and including the age of 18 in Estonia still receive coverage for dental care.