A dental emergency can strike without notice. Perhaps you were in an accident and lost a tooth. Sports-related tooth injuries are common; with a broken or cracked tooth, you are likely to experience extreme discomfort. No matter what the circumstances, a dental emergency can happen anytime and anywhere you happen to be. Where can you turn for help?
Not all dental practices offer emergency dentistry. Before such an emergency affects you or a loved one, it is important to know how to select the right emergency dentist for your needs. In this guide, we’ll explore what you need to know before an emergency occurs.
What is Emergency Dentistry?
In simple terms, emergency dentistry is the practice of treating dental emergencies outside of the usual operating hours of a dental office. Practices that offer emergency dental services often have weekend and evening hours; some even provide around-the-clock care. Dentists trained to perform emergency dentistry quickly and carefully assess the situation, then provide the treatment needed to stabilize the injury, eliminating the pain and discomfort individuals may experience. These specially-trained dental professionals use a range of diagnostic and imaging equipment to pinpoint the exact nature of the emergency.
Tips on Selecting an Emergency Dental Practice
The first step in choosing the right dentist for your emergency oral health needs is to locate one in your area. Again, not all dental practices offer emergency services to their patients. Speak to friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations. Your dental insurance provider may be able to help you find a dentist convenient to you.
Once you have identified emergency dental practices near you, here are several factors to consider to help you narrow down your choices:
- Does the dentist provide flexible hours? Some dental practices have extended hours, while others may be able to help patients at night or on weekends. Still others may offer “on-call” services – ready to respond to dental emergencies at any time of day or night. Speak to the dental practices in your area for specific information about their service hours.
- Is the dental office convenient to your location? In a dental emergency, time is of the essence in preserving damaged or broken teeth – the sooner you are seen, the more likely it is that your oral health can be saved. A dental practice across town or in another city may not be convenient if you should experience an emergency. Ideally, you should attempt to find an emergency dental practice within a 15-30 minutes’ drive of your home.
- Does the dental practice have a good reputation? It is a great idea to check with your friends and neighbors to see if they can recommend an emergency dentist near you. Review sites can also be a valuable resource, helping you to determine the quality of care provided at your chosen dental office.
- What emergency services are available? Every emergency dental practice is different, and each will have its own roster of treatment options available. Some emergency dentists stabilize an injury, then schedule follow-up visits during business hours. Others perform the full range of services needed to diagnose and correct a dental emergency after hours. Check with each dentist to get an idea of what services they offer.
With these tips, finding an emergency dentist for you and for your family is easier than ever before. Dental emergencies can occur at any time; if you’re prepared in advance, you can reduce the pain you experience and know that your dental needs are being taken care of by a qualified, competent, and compassionate emergency dental professional.