By Natasha Gayle
Dental insurance can often help in the case of an unexpected tooth problem. It depends completely on the insurance company as to what procedures it will cover, but it is helpful to know what constitutes a dental emergency. Some dental savings plans may cover more situations than insurance, but it is entirely up to the provider.
Most dentists set aside time in their schedules so that they can be available in case of emergency. Seeing a cheap dentist within 30 minutes of an oral accident is ideal. Keep your dentist’s after-hours contact information in a convenient place so that you can access it in a pinch.
But you don’t want to call your dentist at 11 p.m. only to find out that your situation is not actually a dental emergency.
If it is out of alignment or loose, do not try to force it back into place. Visit your dentist immediately to try to salvage the tooth. In the meantime, bite down to try to keep it from moving.
If it is slightly chipped and not painful, you can wait a few days for an appointment. A fracture or crack, however, could indicate more severe damage to the tooth’s center. Inner tissue damage may even require a root canal. In the case of an extreme fracture, your tooth might not even be salvageable.
This qualifies as an emergency because in some cases, if you get to the dentist quickly enough, the tooth can actually be reinserted into your mouth. Even if it cannot be reinserted, the dentist can treat the wound so that it does not develop an infection.
Wounds inside the mouth like cuts, punctures and torn cheeks or tongue should be treated immediately by an oral surgeon or hospital emergency room. If the tissue injury is caused by an abscess or infection, a dentist may need to perform a partial root canal to drain the area.
An oral emergency could be defined as any problem requiring immediate attention to save a tooth, ease severe pain or stop continual bleeding inside the mouth. It may be helpful to investigate dental insurance companies or a dental savings plan, an alternative to dental insurance, which can help cover costs immediately in case of an unexpected situation.
On a smaller scale, you may want to keep a dental aid kit nearby containing gauze, acetaminophen (ibuprofen or aspirin can cause excess bleeding), a small container with a lid and your dentist’s contact information. The important thing is to get treatment as quickly as possible.
Here's a more in-depth plan to help you prepare for a dental emergency.