An American Dental Association (ADA) report found that more than 70 percent of urgent dental clinic patients could have received treatment at an ordinary dentist’s clinic or a walk-in clinic. This indicates that there is confusion among the American public regarding which dental conditions warrant emergency care. This puts urgent dental care clinics under strain, as they often do not have the staff or resources to deal with non-urgent cases on top of treating genuine dental emergencies.
Similarly, it is quite common for people experiencing dental emergencies to visit walk-in dental clinics, which are not equipped to provide urgent care.
What Are Walk-In Dental Clinics?
Walk-in dental clinics sometimes provide emergency dental treatment, though this is not their primary function. The term “walk-in” clinic refers to a dental clinic that accepts patients without scheduled appointments.
Traditionally, patients who attend walk-in clinics are treated on a “first come, first served” basis. At some walk-in dental clinics, priority may be given to children and the elderly, which means you could be waiting a long time if you do not fall in to one of these categories.
Most walk-in dental clinics were established to help people who do not have dental insurance or a regular dentist access basic dental care. As such, these clinics may offer preventative care and basic treatments for free or at a discounted rate. Where this applies, patients may have to provide evidence of the fact that they are unemployed or on a low income in order to receive a discount or free dental care.
It is worth noting that not all walk-in dental clinics offer the same range of services. Some may provide urgent or semi-urgent treatments, such as tooth extractions or draining oral abscesses. If you are not sure what your local clinic offers, it is best to call ahead and find out before making the journey.