It happened in an instant.
At one moment, your child was just playing a game with their friends, and the next, there was a collision, and now they’re holding their mouth saying one of their teeth is loose and really hurts. Dental emergencies like these happen all the time, leading people to ask the same question, “Should I head to the ER or contact an emergency dentist?” While ERs save people’s lives every single day, when it comes to urgent situations involving the teeth, you should always visit an emergency dentist, and here are the top 3 reasons why.
ER nurses and doctors are trained to deal with an unimaginable array of problems, ranging from physical trauma to serious disease to basically any medical issue you can conceive. What they all lack, however, is the same kind of dedicated dental training a dentist has undergone. While ER staff can help stop bleeding and provide pain medication, they will likely be unable to repair any damage to the teeth or replant a tooth that has been knocked out. Dentists train for years to handle these kinds of issues, and in most cases, many ERs will simply have a patient with a dental problem wait for a dentist to be contacted—even they know that dentists are the best people for the job!
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the average wait time in an ER is about 30 minutes, but we’ve all seen stories where people were stranded for hours in a waiting room before they were seen by a medical professional. When a patient is experiencing extreme dental pain or needs a tooth to be put back into place, the absolute last thing they want to do is waste time! Most emergency dentists offer same-day appointments, meaning a patient can call in and be seen right away, minimizing any pain or damage to their teeth. Basically, contacting an emergency dentist is the fastest way patients can get the attention they need, which is important because a matter of hours can make all the difference between saving or losing a tooth.
No matter where you are in the country, visiting the ER is extremely expensive. You’ll find horror stories about massive medical bills for basic procedures all over the internet, and if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find many related to dental issues. Medical billing is wildly inconsistent, so while one person may pay $150 to get their dental pain relieved in the ER, another may end up spending $3,000 if they don’t have insurance. On average, choosing to visit an emergency dentist is much, much more affordable than the ER. Patients with dental insurance can often have the majority of their care covered by their plan, and many practices offer low-to-no interest financing as well.
When it comes to sudden, serious dental issues, your first call should always be to an emergency dentist. You’ll receive better care in less time and likely spend less to get it, which can definitely help put a smile on your face in an extremely stressful situation.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Kirk is a family, cosmetic, and emergency dentist based in Oklahoma City. At his practice, Grand Dental Studio, new patients can get a FREE First Visit™ where they’ll receive a thorough exam and set of X-rays. This special is useful whether you’re dealing with a dental emergency or are just looking for a new dental home, and it’s a great way to get the care you need at a price you can definitely afford. To learn more about this offer or get more tips on how to handle a dental emergency, Dr. Kirk can be contacted through his website.