What You Need to Know in Case of a Dental Emergency

Posted on March 6, 2019 in General oral health

Dental careNo matter how careful you are, dental emergencies can strike at any time. Make sure you’re prepared for any dental issues that may arise by knowing how your dental plan covers emergency care and what to do in the case of a dental emergency.

How Dental Plans Cover Emergency Dental Care

Most dental benefits cover emergency care provided by dentists or emergency dental clinics. Deductibles, annual maximums and co-pays should remain the same as standard dental care. Many dentists provide after-hours numbers, so at your next appointment, ask your dentist what number to call in case of an emergency. However, emergency care provided by out-of-network dentists may not be covered depending on the plan, which is a good reason to check your coverage.

Coverage during travel largely depends on location. Because Delta Dental’s network is nationwide, you will likely be able to find in-network dentists while traveling inside the U.S. If an emergency does occur during a trip, you can easily search for a participating dentist near your location by using our “Find a Dentist” search tool. On trips outside the U.S., coverage will vary by plan. Some plans cover emergency care in any location and others do not provide coverage abroad.

While it’s important to know what is covered, it’s also good to know what isn’t. Dental coverage often doesn’t apply to emergency room or urgent care visits. These will be covered by your medical plan instead. Prescriptions required for dental pain or infections will also fall under medical benefits.1

What to Do In Case of a Dental Emergency

When you experience mouth pain or a tooth injury, it’s important to seek care from your dentist as soon as possible.  Here’s what you can do for a dental emergency before you get to the dentist.

Knocked-Out Tooth

If you knock out a tooth, gently pick it up from the top (or crown), and do not touch the roots or bottom of the tooth.  If possible, place the tooth back in its socket or place it in a glass of slightly salted water or cold milk. See your dentist as soon as possible and bring the tooth with you.  If you see a dentist within 30 minutes of knocking out the tooth, they may be able to place it back into your mouth.


For a toothache, rinse your mouth with warm water after eating and floss carefully.  If there is any swelling, place an ice pack on the area that hurts. Schedule an appointment to see your dentist, especially if swelling is present around the tooth.

Broken Tooth

To treat a broken tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water. Place an ice pack on the cheek closest to the injury for swelling.  See your dentist as soon as possible.

Mouth Sore

If you have a mouth sore, avoid acidic foods like oranges or tomatoes, which can cause more pain.  Call your dentist if sores last for more than two weeks or you notice any unusual lumps or white patches in your mouth.

Knowing how dental emergencies are covered and how to handle a dental emergency can help you be prepared for the unexpected.  In addition, practicing good oral health habits, such as visiting the dentist regularly, brushing and flossing, can help you avoid some dental emergencies, like a toothache.

For more information on dental emergencies, download our flyer or watch our video.  You can also log in to our Member Connection anytime or call 800-323-1743 for information on how emergency dental care is covered under your dental plan. 

1 Delta Dental, Dental Insurance 102, Dental Emergencies