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No Insurance? What to Do in a Dental Emergency

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 44 percent of Americans do not have any form of dental coverage. That’s about 114 million people! But just because you don’t have dental coverage doesn’t mean you should stop routine dental exams and cleanings. But while budgeting for a bi-annual checkup is one thing, it can be quite another financial setback if a dental emergency occurs without coverage. Here are some tips to try if you have a dental emergency, but you don’t have dental insurance.

 

Budget for checkups  
The best way to avoid a dental emergency like cavities, root canals, and abscesses is to budget for regular dental checkups. This can help you prevent catastrophic dental emergencies before they happen, or at very least stop them before they get worse. Not only will this save you a lot of unnecessary pain, it can also save you a lot of money, too.

Go to the emergency room 
While the ER isn’t the ideal place for dental care, sometimes you have no choice. If you fall and injure your mouth or loose teeth, or if you are in unbearable pain and cannot wait for an appointment during business hours don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room for immediate attention.

See if you can make payments 
If you find yourself needing an expensive dental procedure, call your dentist and see if they can work with you to come up with a payment plan for emergency services. Many dentist’s offer financing options through credit lines designed specifically for medical practices and may be able to get you approved. Many options offer low or no interest and affordable monthly installments so you never need to choose between caring for your health and paying your bills.

Try deal sites 
Sometimes those group deal sites like LivingSocial and Groupon will offer discounted dental exams for first-time patients at new practices. You may have to travel a little farther than you want and switch dentists a few times, but it’s still better than no dentist at all.

Consider a dental school or free community dental clinic day 
Dental schools often have discount or free services to community members who need dental work. They are often income-based, but may not be depending on the school or procedure. See if any local schools are willing to help. Students are always supervised by a licensed and trained advisor, and you’ll get the relief you need while they get valuable experience. It’s a win for everyone.

Can your treatment wait? 
In some cases, you may be able to delay treating a dental problem if it is not yet painful or severe. For example, a cavity appearing on your x-ray may just be at the beginning stages and may be able to go a month or two before needing to be filled. This can buy you some time to save up the extra money needed to fix it.

Are there other options? 
Sometimes there is more than one way to fix a dental problem. While you may want the best or most expensive fix possible, you may be able to get by with a less expensive solution that allows you to watch your wallet. For example, if you chip a tooth or crown, it may be possible to simply file down the chipped area until you can afford a replacement crown or filling. Furthermore, if you lose a tooth, it will be more economical to get a partial denture than a more permanent solution such as a dental implant.

Don’t try this at home Even if you think you can’t afford an emergency treatment, call around and see if anyone can help you. Too often, patients will try to fix problems at home. One person drained their own abscess with a razor blade! Do it yourself procedures like this are not only incredibly difficult, they are extremely dangerous. One wrong move could cause severe injury, and DIY procedures open you up to a very high risk of secondary infections that can result in tissue, gum, and tooth loss.

Remember, not having insurance doesn’t mean your teeth are doomed. With a little budgeting and extra legwork, you can keep on top of your oral health without breaking the bank. If you have any questions about dental coverage, fees, or if you have a dental emergency, give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-550-3959.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959