Preventing emergency room visits for dental problems

A dental emergency can be shocking and scary. However, the hospital may not be the best place to go for help.

Here are some tips to handle common dental emergencies and ways to avoid them.

Call your dentist before going to the emergency room (ER)

Emergency rooms are staffed to handle medical emergencies. If you go to the ER with a dental injury, they may only be able to relieve the pain until you see your dentist. Also, the care you receive may be expensive and not covered by your dental or health insurance.

Instead, call your dentist immediately. Many dentists have an after-hours number to call for help outside of their regular office hours.

Tips to handle common dental emergencies

If you suffer a dental emergency, here are some to-dos to help ease your mind and save your teeth:

  • Knocked-out tooth—Locate and clean the tooth. Try to keep it moist by placing it back in the socket without touching the root, between your cheek and gums or in a container of milk. Call your dentist as soon as possible.
  • Cracked tooth—Clean the tooth immediately by rinsing your mouth with warm water. Use a cold compress to reduce any swelling and call your dentist to make an appointment the same day.
  • Chipped tooth—Locate the fragment, clean it and place it in a container of milk. Rinse your mouth with warm water and cover the chipped tooth with a piece of sugarless gum or paraffin wax. Call your dentist to make an appointment the same day.
  • Object caught between teeth—Try to gently remove the object with floss or a toothpick. Do not use any sharp metal objects because you might accidentally scratch your teeth or your gums. Call your dentist and explain the situation to see what they recommend you do next.

Ways to avoid dental emergencies

Accidents happen, but most situations can be avoided if you:

  • Brush, floss and practice good dental habits every day
  • Go to all dental appointments so your dentist can spot potential problems
  • Don’t put off dental procedures like crowns, root canals and tooth abscess treatment
  • Wear a mouth guard during activities like playing sports or riding a bike
  • Avoid biting or chewing hard things like ice, popcorn kernels and hard candy
  • Don’t use your teeth as a bottle opener

Humana offers individual and family dental plans

If you need dental insurance for you or your family, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.