Let's face it: the pandemic was not kind to our teeth. Dental offices closed down, which caused us to put off our routine appointments. As a result, more than a quarter of dentists reported an increase in cavities and gum disease in 2020.
A survey by the American Dental Association also found an increase stress-related dental issues like teeth grinding, chipped teeth and jaw pain since the pandemic began. On top of this, six million American adults lost their dental insurance due to the pandemic.
Lack of access to care, expensive dental bills and even just a general fear of going to the dentist have kept us out of those reclinable chairs.
But what happens if you face a dental emergency? Do you go to the emergency room or urgent care? These institutions typically don't have the proper tools or staff to handle dental problems—only a dentist does.
That's why on-call dental services that are open after-hours, on holidays and seven days a week are important. Urgent Dental Care recognizes this. It's the first urgent dental care service of its kind in the United States, and the practice opened a location right here in Bradenton in 2020, near HCA Blake Hospital.
"Regular dentists may say they are open for emergencies, but [getting care] is now always possible," says Dr. David Torpey, a provider at Urgent Dental Care. "We are open every day and offer palliative care until patients can make it to their primary dentist."
The goal is not to steal patients from major practices, but rather, help people in a pinch—offering a diagnosis and treatment plan to take to their regular dentist. Urgent Dental Care will even communicate with your dentist.
"There's been a huge need for a service like this, because people often put off excruciating dental and jaw pain," says Torpey. "Our service also helps keep dental emergencies out of the emergency room, clearing space for patients who need other kinds of care."
Urgent Dental Care is a fee-for-service practice and offers a range of services, including a 24-hour phone line where you can speak with a live dental professional. The practice treats abscesses, infections and cavities, performs extractions and root canals, re-cements crowns, fixes chipped teeth and more. Tropey warns, though, that this is not a replacement for preventative dental care—i.e., cleanings—as the practice does not have hygienists on staff.
While Urgent Dental Care does not take insurance, you can submit a claim and get reimbursed if you carry dental coverage. There are also Care Credit options available depending on the patient's financial situation. Torpey says this fee-for-service model is what allows the practice to stay open every day.
"Patients have been glad we are an available resource to them—including vacationers who are out of town and far away from their primary dentists," says Torpey. "We are happy to care for them until they can get back into that regular dental chair."
Urgent Dental Care is located at 1906 59th St. W., Suite C, Bradenton. For more information, click here or call (941) 529-7777.