I think I have a dental emergency but don’t have any money. Can the person who caused the problem be billed for it? Here’s the back story. I was at a bar. There were a couple of guys playing pool. One of them was pretty drunk and getting loud and rude to everybody. He made a nasty comment to a gal near me and I suggested it might be time for him to head home. He responded by hitting me in the mouth with his pool cue. That started a fight which got several people booted out. The drunk included. When I woke up this morning, I noticed one of my front teeth was chipped, probably from where he hit me with his cue. It’s also a bit loose. I know I need a dentist. As I said, I’m broke. Can I bill the guy who hit me? I know who he is. He’s a regular at this bar.
Even knights rescuing a princess get dinged once in a while and need to repair their armor. Unfortunately, they can’t usually bill the dragon for it. I’ll explain why in a moment and what your options are. First, however, I want to go over what’s going on with your tooth.
You’ve mentioned three specific things: trauma, a chip, and a loose tooth.
We’ll cover the chip first because that’s the easiest and not a dental emergency. After everything else is taken care of, if the chip bothers you from a cosmetic standpoint, there’s a simple procedure called dental bonding which can “replace” the missing bit.
The other two issues you mentioned are more significant and do require an emergency dental appointment. Whenever you have tooth trauma, you need to see a dentist. They’ll do x-rays to determine if there’s damage to the underlying pulp which could require a root canal treatment.
The loose tooth, in situations like yours, often means the ligaments were stretched during the trauma. Your dentist will need to splint the tooth to promote healing of the ligaments and prevent the tooth from coming out.
Who Pays For Emergency Dental Care?
Legally, the dentist can only bill the person who is receiving the care, unless there is a prior agreement with a third party. So, if you can get Mr. Drunk to agree to pay and let the dentist know, he or she can bill him. Otherwise, you’ll accept the billing and can take the bill to him or, more likely, take him to small claims court for payment.
The good news is most dentists are compassionate and in cases like yours will allow you to pay out service instead of having to cover everything up front.
Best of Luck.
This blog is brought to you by Parma Dentist Dr. Rebecca Gecovich.