The Rewards and Sacrifices of Becoming an Emergency Dental Practice

Author: Dr. Gary Salwin
Dr. Gary Salwin

Dr. Gary Salwin

Dr. Gary Salwin leads the Glendale Dental Group, Arizona. He and his team treat dental emergencies and perform a whole range of dental services. He has been practicing dentistry for more than 36 years.
07.06.16 / 1:17 pm

Becoming an emergency dental practice can be very rewarding, both financially and emotionally. Emergency dentists become open to new patients and can help people who are suffering on short notice.

Of course, there are personal and professional sacrifices that come with operating an emergency practice. If you are considering taking on patients, it’s important to have a good idea of what is involved and what types of issues you need to prepare for beforehand.

Hot-Tempered Patients

No matter what kind of practice you operate, you’re going to have to deal with the occasional combative patient. However, don’t be surprised if you find this happening a bit more frequently when you become an emergency dentist. There are a few common reasons why emergency dentists tend to bear the wrath of unhappy patients more often than others.

Pain: Patients seeking emergency dental services are often under a significant amount of pain as a result of broken, chipped, or abscessed teeth, to name just a few. Coping with pain is enough to put anyone in a foul mood.

Payment: The cost of getting care for a dental emergency isn’t something most people plan for, and you are likely to deal with plenty of patients who won’t like the cost of their emergency treatment.

Waiting: Some patients who show up with an emergency are going to have to wait to be seen. Accepting walk-ins is a great way for emergency dentists to get more patients, but not all those patients will understand having to wait for the next available doctor.

Extended and Early Hours

If you plan to be competitive with other emergency dental practices, Monday-Thursday 8 am to 4 pm office hours will not work. Our emergency practice is open 8 am to 9 pm during the week. We are also open until 6 pm on Saturday and 5 pm on Sunday.

Aside from this schedule, there are times that I will make arrangements to see patients even earlier. For instance, if someone’s front crown falls out and they have an important appointment the next day, I’ll agree to see them as early as 7 am.

High Volume, One-Time Patients

These extended hours also mean you’ll get a lot more one-time patients. Part of the allure of our practice is that we are open late and take walk-ins. That means many patients will already have a family dentist, but need to be seen after work or on a weekend to have an emergency dental issue taken care of properly.

Emergency dentistry also means that you’ll be getting a high volume of patients in the afternoon and on weekends. To keep your team members and the other dentists from burning out, you may find it helpful to rotate schedules, so people aren’t working every weekend. You’ll likely find it is necessary to take on additional team members to meet the increased demand.

 Becoming Proficient with Common Emergencies

As an emergency dentist, there are some issues you’ll see more often than others. It’s important that you prepare for some of the more common emergencies.

  • Denture problems
  • Trauma
  • Tooth fractures
  • Crown and bridge problems
  • Pain diagnosis

Keep all the necessary treatment materials well-stocked to ensure you are equipped to begin handling emergency cases at higher volume.

Making Sure You Get Paid for the Treatment You Provide

You’ll need to have your collection process on lockdown before you start focusing on dental emergencies. The patients who need immediate help can come with varying financial backgrounds and may or may not have insurance.

Make sure new patient paperwork includes an updated payment policy that clearly defines the patient’s responsibilities. Keep the signed copy of this policy in the patient files. Your plan should include all the payment options your office accepts.

You should also make it clear to patients that you will not see them before finalizing payment arrangements. You should also make sure your practice management software is up-to-date and that you will easily be able to bill insurance companies and track those payments.

Sending Statements

With a higher volume of patients, you may be better off sending out statements more frequently. Sending them once a month may become overwhelming and eat up resources. Consider making this a weekly or bi-weekly task.


Unfortunately, there are going to be occasions when patients don’t pay their share on time. You state’s collection laws will determine how you are legally allowed to start the process. These laws often specify how often you are allowed to call patients.

While it can be a hard part of the job, it is important to remember that it is only fair for patients to pay the agreed-upon amount. The skill and expertise of your staff are essential in easing someone’s suffering, and you deserve compensation.

Be persistent if necessary, but it is also crucial to be compassionate and respectful, even when the patient is less than courteous.

Dr. Gary Salwin

Dr. Gary Salwin

Dr. Gary Salwin leads the Glendale Dental Group, Arizona. He and his team treat dental emergencies and perform a whole range of dental services. He has been practicing dentistry for more than 36 years.

24 responses to “The Rewards and Sacrifices of Becoming an Emergency Dental Practice”

  1. In emergency cases, you need to provide your patients an extra bit of comfortable experience and the benefits from your professionalism. High-Quality services need not be mentioned.

  2. Very good read. Hot tempered ones are definitely the toughest to handle. In most cases, intense pain is what leads to emergency services, with people seeking immediate relief from pain. Dentists do need to be extremely patient since pain can lead people to be in a foul mood.

  3. nice blogs in emergency cases doctors get rewards at the same time there are some disadvantages. you have shared good content

  4. All over the world, different types of dental clinics are available now. But sometimes it is better to do some home treatments by staying at home. Going to clinic all the time is not so good. So it is better to know the common treatments that you can do at home too. One of my friends, Joseph has shared a link with me. In that link, i got a lot of knowledge regarding dental problems. Here’s the link i want to share:

  5. Being an emergency dentists is not that easy. Even experienced dentist would take extra care making the patient comfort on such situations.

  6. I’m an emergency dentist and will fit patients in as emergency patients within normal hours. When people are in pain, we must remember that they are not themselves.

  7. It’s certainly true that becoming an emergency dental practice can be very rewarding. Having the right dental practice funding can go a long way in giving your customers the best care. Further to this, modern instruments can often make carrying out a variety of procedures much more efficient.

  8. i am also a Periodontist and provide dental services in Fairfield, CT most of the work handled by my staff and I have only handled the major surgery or in case of emergency so one thing that I would like to say here that patients are our main source of income, they are our customers so we should handle our patients with care. If you do the satisfying work you are no need to worry about the payment. That’s it!

  9. Great way of laying out the pros and cons. When 24 Hour Dental launched we helped create a unified of how the organization will be structured. It was developed in a very similar way outlined. At the end the demand for 24 hour emergency dental care lifted all boats.

  10. Generally, intense pain leads to emergency services, and we seek for immediate relief from pain. If any of my family member requires the emergency service, we approach Bozeman Dentist , our family dentist. Treatment taken from him is full of relief, we get relaxed.

  11. 24 Horas Dentistas has gone above and beyond with the education of how to transform practices to 24 hour emergency dental clinics. Your advice is spot on. We are constantly answering questions regarding this and just wanted to say that you did a great job laying all out there.

  12. To be an Emergency Dental Clinic open round the clock is a challenge to any practice, since Dental Emergencies are less common compared to medical emergencies. We appreciate all the dentists around the world who practice long hours in serving their patients. We endorse ‘sacrifices fetch you rewards’.

  13. Great read! We see a lot of people with headaches often caused by their dental issues. Some of our referrals always go to our dental partners. Great information.

  14. Yes it’s a great challenge to be an Emergency Dental Clinic open round the clock, since Dental Emergencies are less common compared to medical emergencies. We admire all those dentists around the world who practice for so many stretchful hours in serving their patients. We appreciate all such great efforts

  15. Its a great information about Emergency dental clinic. As a Emergency dental clinic, You need to give extra facility to your pateints and make them feel extra comfortable and benefit than a normal dental clinic.

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