How to Find a walk-in Dentist Near Me (And Why You Might Need One)

Here’s everything you need to know about finding a walk-in dentist

Sometimes accidents happen, and you find yourself dealing with a dental emergency. Or perhaps you have an issue with your teeth or gums that you’d like a professional to look at, but you don’t have a regular dentist. Or maybe you find yourself away from your usual dentist, with a dental problem that needs addressed.

These are all very real situations that you may find yourself in. So what do you do when you need dental help, but don’t have an appointment? The easiest solution to all three is to find a walk-in dentist. But what exactly is a walk-in dentist, and how do you find one near you? 

In this guide, we’re going to discuss:

  • What a walk-in dentist is
  • Why you might need a walk-in dentist
  • What’s the best time to visit a walk-in dentist
  • What to do if you have a dental emergency
  • Ways to prevent visiting a walk-in dentist
  • Where to find a walk-in dentist

What is a walk-in dentist?

What’s the difference between a walk-in dentist and a regular dentist?

female dentist smiling at a patient who is sitting in the chair
walk-in dentists are a great option for patients who do not already have a regular dentist.

If you’ve ever found yourself dealing with a dental emergency, or do not have a regular dentist that you visit, chances are you may have Googled “walk-in dentist near me” to see if there are any in your area. walk-in dentists are a little different from regular dentists since they are specifically open to taking walk ins, whether they schedule an appointment or not. 

Most traditional dental offices require their patients to make appointments ahead of time, so that staff can properly prepare to address their needs. Whether that’s for a dental cleaning, to adjust fillings, or to learn more about dentures and dental implants. If you’re looking for a dentist in your area, consider allowing Aspen Dental to be your regular dentist.

It may be helpful to think of walk-in dentists just like you would a walk-in hair salon or medical express clinic, which typically do not require appointments and can seat you as soon as you arrive. However, this is not always the case, and you may want to consider calling ahead to the walk-in dentist so they know a little about what your dental issue is. Calling ahead may also help you avoid any unforeseen wait times, and it can help the staff be better prepared to assist you.

But you can certainly just walk in and request to see a walk-in dentist. Whether or not you have an appointment, it’s helpful to consider these things as you prepare to visit:

  • If you have any dental records, bring them along so the dentist and staff know a little more about your dental history.
  • Bring any insurance information you might have, along with another accepted form of payment.
  • Let them know if you would prefer sedation while being treated. 

walk-in dentists are a helpful part of the dental community, because they offer the flexibility of walking in and getting your needs addressed the same day. You don’t necessarily need an appointment, and they can offer a variety of services. 

Why might you need a walk-in dentist?

Under what circumstances would you need to visit a walk-in dentist?

dentist and patient smiling at each other
If you have a dental emergency, you should see a walk-in dentist as soon as you can.

Now that we’ve covered the basics on how a walk-in dentist differs from a regular dentist, you may be wondering why you would need to see a walk-in dentist in the first place. There may be a variety of reasons why you need to visit a walk-in dentist, but typically they fall into three broad categories.

You have a dental emergency

Dental emergencies are no fun, but they do happen. A dental emergency could be one reason you might need a walk-in dentist, but how do you know if you’re experiencing one? First, it may be helpful to learn what is not a dental emergency:

  • A cracked tooth that did not leave a sharp fragment in your mouth, and is not painful.
  • A mild toothache that does not cause severe pain, swelling, or a fever.

Either of these scenarios, while not ideal, can wait until you can make an appointment with your regular dentist. However, if you do find yourself in these circumstances and don’t have a regular dentist, then you’ll want to find a walk-in dentist near you to assist you. 

If you have any of the following conditions, they qualify as an emergency and you should find a walk-in dentist as soon as you can.

Severe/unexplainable toothache

If you wake up one day with a very painful toothache that seems to have come out of nowhere, this is a sign that there is something wrong with your teeth or gums. Do not think that a toothache will just go away on its own, because if it is painful enough to interfere with your daily activities, chances are it will not.

As we mentioned above, if your toothache is mild, and you’ve been experiencing other symptoms such as sensitive gums, it’s probably time to schedule a visit to your regular dentist. But if the pain is too much or you don’t know where it’s coming from, it’s time to find a walk-in dentist near you. 

In the meantime, it may be helpful to try taking over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers such as aspirin or Tylenol to help take away some of the pain. Putting a cold compress on the side of your jaw where the toothache is happening could also help. You may also want to try gargling or rinsing your mouth with salt water to help reduce bacteria causing the pain and inflammation. 

illustration of a cracked tooth
Cracked teeth are no fun and you should see a walk-in dentist to fix this issue.

Painful broken/cracked teeth

Accidents happen, whether you get a chipped or broken tooth playing sports, or you accidentally fall and hit your tooth on a hard surface. Depending on how you chipped your tooth, if you are able to find the remnants, make sure to salvage as much as you can and bring it with you to the dentist. 

If you can’t find the missing pieces of your tooth, that’s okay, but it is definitely time to visit a walk-in dentist. If your cracked tooth is painful or bleeding, make sure you stop by the walk-in dentist, as they will be able to assist you as soon as possible. You can try to minimize the pain by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, and by applying ice or a cold compress to the area with the chipped tooth. 

Tooth is knocked out

Perhaps even worse than having a chipped or broken tooth is having one knocked out entirely. Whether it’s from playing sports, or from an accidental fall, knocking out a tooth is something that requires immediate attention. If you can find the tooth, wash it off under cold water but be careful not to scrub it or use soap. 

Try to avoid touching the root end of the tooth, as this may introduce additional bacteria.

If they are able to re-insert your tooth, it will typically be held in place with a wire or other tool until the tooth has had a chance to fuse with the bone.

diagram of what to do when you get a tooth knocked out

Missing or broken filling

If you have fillings and suddenly realize it is missing or that it has broken/cracked, it is time to find a walk-in dentist. A damaged or missing filling can not only be painful, but can expose the tooth underneath it. Without the filling protecting the tooth, it is exposed and can be easily broken or cracked if you don’t get to the dentist. 

Depending on the severity of the break or duration of the missing filling, you run the risk of exposing the nerve of the tooth, which can lead to additional pain and more dental problems. 

Damaged or broken crown

Another dental emergency that should be immediately dealt with is a damaged or broken crown. Much like a damaged filling, losing a crown will expose the tooth underneath it. This could lead to a potential infection that may require additional dental assistance. 

If you do lose your crown and are able to find it, store it in a small plastic bag until you can reach a walk-in dentist. Try to get into a dentist as soon as possible in order to avoid additional damage or infection in your tooth. 

Abscess tooth

When you have an abscess tooth, you will most likely know it because of some tell-tale signs. First you will likely be in pain, as an abscess tooth is caused by an infection near the root of the tooth. Chances are you will also notice a pimple-like bump on your gums that contains pus near the tooth that is infected. You may also experience:

  • A fever
  • Painful lymph nodes
  • Hot/cold sensitivity
  • Toothache
  • Swelling in the face, cheek, or jawline

Abscesses are a very serious dental emergency, because if left untreated, the infection can spread to your jaw, other teeth, and may even enter your bloodstream. If you have this condition, try to rinse your mouth out with salt water and see a walk-in dentist as soon as you can. 

Swollen/bleeding gums

If you experience a small amount of blood on your toothbrush once in a while, and you are not in severe pain, this is not a dental emergency. However, it is a sign that something may be wrong with your teeth or gums. If you have a dentist, contact them and schedule a checkup to make sure there’s nothing serious going on. 

Swollen or bleeding gums that appear out of the blue and are painful are a different matter. If you’re experiencing this, you want to visit a walk-in dentist. They will be able to determine what is causing your gums to swell or bleed, as it could be a sign of periodontitis (gum disease). This is a serious infection that will need to be alleviated by a dental professional. 

Something lodged between your teeth

If a piece of food or other object becomes lodged between your teeth, and you can’t get it out by brushing or flossing, it’s time to see a dentist. A walk-in dentist has the professional tools to remove a foreign object so that it won’t cause gum irritation or a possible infection. 

When you’re traveling or away from home

Another scenario where you would want to see a walk-in dentist is if you are traveling out of town for business or pleasure. Although no one wants to imagine having a dental issue while they’re on vacation, they still can happen. If any of the above dental emergencies happen to you while you’re away from home, you’ll definitely need to make arrangements to see a walk-in dentist.

It’s helpful to have a plan in place when you know you’re going to be traveling out of town, in case you do need the help of a dentist. You should:

  • Research a dentist ahead of time in the city or country you will be visiting that accepts walk-ins. 
  • Have the contact information of your regular dentist (if you have one) so they can potentially forward dental records or call in prescriptions if necessary.
  • Know how to prevent or limit the chances that you will experience a dental emergency while you’re out of town.

When you’re away from home, make sure to keep up with your regular oral hygiene. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash. It’s also helpful to include aspirin or Tylenol with your packed items in case you happen to get a toothache. If you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, it may be a good idea to avoid harder foods that could potentially cause dental problems. 

No regular dentist, or your regular dentist cannot schedule you in

Another circumstance that might call for a walk-in dentist would be if you do not currently have a dentist that you see regularly. If you haven't seen the dentist in a while, and you happen to have a dental emergency, a walk-in dentist is just what you need. 

If you have no regular dentist, you may also just be looking for an easy way to get your teeth checked and professionally cleaned. A walk-in dentist can definitely help you with this. If you’ve been putting off a nagging gum or tooth issue, but haven’t seen a dentist for a while, you should look for a walk-in dentist to help you before the dental problem worsens. 

Or, perhaps your regular dentist cannot schedule you in for a few days because they are helping other patients. This could be another scenario where visiting a walk-in dentist is a great idea. 

Walk-in dentists are a very convenient option when you:

  • Have a dental emergency
  • Are away from home and your usual dentist
  • Do not have a regular dentist, or they cannot schedule you in

When is the best time to visit a walk-in dentist and what can you expect?

How do you know when the optimal time is for visiting a walk-in dentist?

male and femle embracing and smiling outside
walk-in dentists are a convenient way to get your dental issues fixed.

As we discussed earlier, if you are experiencing a dental emergency, then you will need to visit a walk-in dentist immediately. Let the dentists’ support staff know If you are in a lot of pain, or have a missing tooth. Once you are in the dentist’s chair, they will:

  • Proceed with an emergency exam. Because you have come in with an emergency, they will immediately take a look at what is causing you discomfort. At this point, their only concern is helping to correct the emergency, and the dentist will not typically examine other issues such as your bite or how the rest of your gums and teeth are doing.
  • Determine if anesthesia or sedation is required. If the issue is severe, they may need to administer anesthesia or sedation if an invasive procedure is required to address your concern.

If you are not having a dental emergency, and are just looking for a dentist that can give your mouth a checkup or a cleaning, then you may find yourself waiting. This is why it’s helpful to call ahead of time to a walk-in dentist so they can put you on their schedule. This should cut down on the amount of time you wait. However, if a dental emergency comes in, you can expect that the dentist will see them first. 

There is no one time that’s best for visiting a walk-in dentist, it all depends on why you need to see them. 

Are there ways to prevent visiting a walk-in dentist for a dental emergency?

Follow these suggestions to decrease the chances you’ll need a walk-in dentist for an emergency

two dentists smiling at the office
If you have a dental emergency, a walk-in dentist should be your first stop.

While accidents will happen, there are things you can do to reduce the chances you’ll need a walk-in dentist for an emergency.

Make sure to have a good oral hygiene routine

We can’t stress regularly caring for your teeth and gums enough. Make sure that you’re brushing your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. You also want to make sure to floss and use an ADA approved mouthwash. 

Keeping your teeth and gums free of debris will reduce the amount of plaque and bacteria that can form and cause dental emergencies such as bleeding gums, abscesses, and toothaches. 

If you’re active or playing sports, wear a mouthguard

Some dental emergencies happen because of an accident or trauma to the teeth. If you’re participating in sports, whether it’s basketball, football, soccer, hockey, or baseball/softball, etc. you’re going to want to wear a mouthguard.

Playing sports such as these increases your chances that your teeth can become chipped, broken, or knocked out. Wearing a mouthguard regularly will lower your risk of damaging your teeth because they are designed to absorb the blows and impacts your teeth can encounter from sports.

strong and healthy teeth diagram

Avoid using your teeth to grip or chew on items

Do not use your teeth to hold items, such as keys, or chew on items like pencils. These are not good uses of your teeth. When you use your teeth for purposes other than chewing, you’re increasing your risk of chipping or cracking a tooth. 

Keep up with your dental visits

Make sure to keep up with your dental visits. It’s a good idea to visit your dentist at least twice a year so they can give your teeth and gums a checkup and a professional cleaning. You can also use this time to discuss any concerns or problems you’re having with your dentist. 

Have a healthy diet

Make sure you’re eating a diet with vitamins and minerals that promote healthy teeth and gums. This, along with avoiding large amounts of sugary and starchy foods, can decrease your chances of developing cavities, gingivitis, abscesses, toothaches, or gum disease. 

Where can you find a walk-in dentist?

call to action to schedule appointment at aspen dental

If you’re looking for a walk-in dentist, whether for an emergency service, if you find yourself away from home or you don’t have a regular dentist consider Aspen Dental. To see if there’s a location near you, check out our offices here.

No matter why you need a walk-in dentist, they are ready, capable and available to treat your dental concerns.

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