If you’re like most people, you probably visit your family dentist once or twice a year for cleanings, never giving much thought to other kinds of dentistry. But if you suddenly wake up experiencing the excruciating pain of a serious toothache, you’ll need to get an emergency dentist appointment right away. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Prioritize Dental Problems
A dental emergency is typically one that requires treatment within 24 hours. There are certain oral emergencies that should send you to the emergency room, rather than the dentist. These include jaw fractures and dislocations, severe lacerations inside the mouth or on the lips, and abscesses or infections that are causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. Emergencies that should be handled by a dentist include knocked out teeth, broken or cracked teeth, or tooth pain that is not life-threatening. There are also urgent (but not emergent) dental concerns such as chipped teeth or lost crowns, which should be taken care of within a few days.
- Call Your Regular Dentist Office
You might be surprised that even if you need treatment within 24 hours, you’ll often be able to get an appointment with your normal dentist. Most dentist offices limit the time booked for routine procedures (cleanings and checkups) such that a portion of the schedule is left free for emergent or urgent needs. And even if you have an emergency after business hours, your dentist may have a message or answering service that can direct you to a 24 hour facility.
- Keep Emergency Numbers Handy
It’s always a good idea to keep an emergency dentist number handy, whether that means writing it down, programming it into your smartphone or both. Vetting 24 hour dentists in advance will allow you to look into issues like insurance coverage that you might have to overlook in the midst of an emergency — resulting in a hefty medical bill. Most dental insurance includes provisions for emergency care. If you don’t know where to start looking for an emergency dentist, ask your general dentist for a recommendation and go from there.
Do you have any other advice to share on getting an emergency dentist appointment when a family dentist isn’t available? Share in the comments.