Should I go to the emergency room or a dentist?

When you face a sudden health issue, you may be thinking of going straight to the emergency room. But that might not be the best option when it comes to dental issues.

What if the toothache you've been sitting on for days suddenly turns bad? And your dental office is closed. Or you don’t have a dentist at all. Now you're Googling: "Can I go to the ER for a toothache?" Situations like that can be confusing and frightening so we’ve outlined whether or not to head into the emergency room.

So...can I go to the ER for a toothache?

Technically, you can. But...that might not be your best option. You might think that it’ll be faster and easier, but according to the American Dental Association (ADA), 78.6% of dental cases that arrive in the ER are likely to be diverted back to dental clinics. This is because most hospitals in the US aren't equipped to handle dental concerns. In many cases, patients are just prescribed antibiotics and painkillers and are then told to see their dentist.

And that might cost you anywhere from $400 to $1,500.

That’s why it’s important to only go to the emergency room if you are experiencing a true dental emergency. For more details on what a dental emergency looks like, take a look at our other post.

What should I do then?

Get connected with a dentist. It will be more cost effective (the average visit to a dentist in-person is $90 to $200) and they will be best equipped to handle your urgent dental issue.

But what if I can’t reach my dentist? Or what if I don’t have one?

These two concerns are often what sends individuals to the emergency room in the first place. An in-person appointment with a dentist can be days or even weeks away. And that might only be for the initial consultation. For many urgent dental concerns, a follow-up appointment is often needed to perform the actual dental procedure. That’s two visits to the dentist.

Doing the math, that’s approximately $180 - $400, if you don’t have insurance or if insurance doesn’t cover your visit.

That...sounds like a lot.

It is. That’s why at Wally, we have our Care Team available to listen to your dental concerns and connect you with a dentist virtually as early as the same day. For half the price of an in-person visit. Psst...if you hop onto our dental membership you’ll get even more savings! And it doesn’t matter if you already have a dentist or not.

Even better? During the virtual visit, the dentist can prescribe you antibiotics to help ease that toothache of yours then schedule you a follow-up appointment to address the root of your concern. Now you’re saving thousands of dollars by not visiting the emergency room AND a trip to the dentist’s office by only going in when necessary.

So, the next time you’re thinking about heading to the emergency room for a dental issue, take a moment to reconsider. There are options out there that can deliver better care.

Got a dental concern? Chat with us today and get connected to a dentist.

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