Sometimes, your oral health simply can’t wait until your next dental check-up. Dental emergencies are relatively common, and need immediate attention just as much as any other health emergency.
This could be anything from tripping over and breaking your teeth to suddenly experiencing severe dental pain. Whatever the case, it’s best if a professional can assess, diagnose, and treat your teeth as soon as possible for your oral health.
What is emergency dental?
Emergency dental care is available for whenever you need to see a dentist urgently.
Usually, an emergency involves any kind of pain or discomfort that can’t be treated with a simple over-the-counter pain killer, or any kind of tooth breakage.
By calling for an emergency appointment, your dentist will be able to assess the problem and offer an immediate solution that improves the pain and ensures the damage is minimised or even reversed.
However, not all emergencies of the mouth are suited to the skills of your dentist. You may need to go to the emergency department at your local hospital if you have:
- A broken jaw
- A bitten or cut lip, cheek, or tongue
If you are unsure if your issue is an emergency, please find your nearest dental practice and give them a call to discuss.
What services does emergency dental cover?
An emergency dentist can help with a variety of dental emergencies, this could be for:
- A chipped or broken tooth
- A persistent or very painful toothache
- A lost filling
- A loose or knocked out adult tooth
- Emergency tooth extraction
- Broken braces
All of these issues are emergencies because they require immediate attention.
For example, if your filling falls out, your tooth may be exposed to bacteria that could lead to an infection, and your tooth could be weakened, which could lead to a break or chip.
If you have braces and they break, this can result in a wire or piece of bracket poking your mouth or gums which can be very uncomfortable, so it’s best to have it fixed as soon as possible.
If you have a very painful toothache, it could be that there is an infection inside the tooth that requires antibiotics or other treatment to stop it from spreading or causing damage.
Examples of non-emergencies are:
- A standard check-up or general examination
- A dental scale and cleaning
- Teeth whitening
Advantages of emergency dental
Emergency dental services are beneficial for several reasons:
- Pain reduction and management
An emergency dentist can help to diagnose the cause of pain and help to treat it right away
- Damage minimisation
Immediate attention can help to minimise any damage to the tooth, gums, and your oral health
- Avoid higher costs and more treatments later
In some cases, immediate attention can help you avoid more treatments and higher costs down the track. For example if your tooth is knocked out but you seek emergency dental treatment to have it professionally placed back it, you could avoid losing the tooth altogether and requiring a dental implant or dental bridge to replace the tooth at a later date.
How much does emergency dental services cost?
The cost of emergency dental services can vary greatly, depending on the issue.
For example, fixing a chipped tooth might cost $250-$350, an emergency root canal could be $900-$1,100, and an extraction could cost $200-$600.
It truly depends on the extent of the damage, the time it takes to fix it, the tools and materials used, whether you require anaesthesia or not, and other factors.
Is emergency dental covered by health insurance?
Generally speaking, Medicare does not cover emergency dental treatments.
However, some private health insurance providers do offer some coverage for emergency dental services. For example, a provider might give you a rebate of 60% of the cost of care, or cover 100% of the cost but only up to a certain amount per calendar year.
Some insurance providers will also have preferred providers for dental services, which is fine for standard dental care, but can be more difficult to ascertain which dental clinics are ‘preferred’ when you are having an emergency.
It’s best to fully read and understand your health insurance clauses when it comes to emergency dental care well before you actually need to use them.
What to expect from your emergency dental appointment
An emergency dental appointment will vary depending on your emergency, but here’s a general idea of what to expect:
- Call ahead to let your dentist know you are coming so they can try to prepare for you, and to ensure you are going to the right place (in some cases, you may be redirected to a hospital)
- If your nearest dentist does not have space, try calling more dentists nearby to see if they can help
- Note that a dentist cannot come to your home, but most dental offices provide emergency services during normal working hours, so you should have options nearby
- When you arrive, your dentist will rinse or clean the affected area
- They will perform a visual inspection and may take x-rays if required
- They may provide pain medication or anaesthesia if required
- They will either treat the issue immediately, or do a temporary fix until you both have time for a more permanent solution
- Your dentist may prescribe you with a round of antibiotics if an infection is involved or likely
- They will provide you with follow-up care instructions
No matter your emergency, the first step is to contact your nearest dental office for advice and an immediate appointment.
Instead of searching for an ‘emergency dentist near me’, simply find your nearest dental office here and get in touch.