Emergency dental conditions are much more common that most people would think, with hundreds of people seeking treatment for urgent conditions, such as lost and broken teeth, each year.
What should I do if I need urgent dental treatment?
If you are a registered NHS dental patient you can contact your dentist to see if they have any appointments free or contact NHS Direct if the incident has occurred out of hours; NHS Direct is a service which offers advice to dental patients and allows patients to discuss their situation with trained advisers. NHS Direct can also help you to find out where your nearest emergency dentist is. If you have private dental insurance you should find your nearest emergency service by contacting your insurance provider. If you have suffered other injuries as well as dental problems you should consult medical help as soon as possible and you may wish to go to an accident and emergency unit.
Emergency dental conditions
There are several different reasons why a patient may require urgent dental treatment, but the most common conditions are listed below:
- Severe tooth ache, which does not ease with pain relief medication
- Broken tooth
- Lost teeth (usually from trauma or caused by a sports injury)
- Significant bleeding from the mouth or gums
- Severe swelling around the gums and teeth
- Jaw fractures
Who is most at risk from dental emergencies?
Research has consistently shown that children and people that regularly participate in contact sports are most likely to suffer from a condition which requires emergency dental treatment. Children are prone to accidents, which usually results in them falling over or tripping; this can often lead them to damage or lose their teeth. Sports players often lose or damage teeth as a result of direct contact with other players, surfaces or hard objects, such as balls.
Preventing dental emergencies
Although it is impossible to prevent accidents from happening, there are some precautions which can be taken to reduce the risk of suffering from a dental emergency. Firstly, if you have small children, try to make your home as possible by covering sharp corners and keeping corridors and stairways clear of any obstructions. If you regularly take part in a contact sport, have a gum shield made and make sure you wear it each time you take part; as well as protecting your teeth, it will also ensure you can claim insurance or treatment on the NHS, as many insurance providers do not accept claims when protective mouth gear could have been worn, but wasnt.
Is emergency dental care available on the NHS?
The NHS does offer an emergency dental service but you will usually have to visit a different practice to the one you usually use.
Do I have to be registered with a dentist to get emergency NHS dental care?
NHS emergency dental care is a universal service that is open to all citizens in the UK; however, it is recommended that you register with a dentist as it is very important to maintain high standards of oral health and regularly visiting a dentist could help to prevent serious oral health conditions, as well as improving general health. If you want to find out about dental services in your local area you can go online to the NHS website or contact your local Primary Care Trust or local Health Authority.
How do I find an emergency dentist near me?
If you need to find details of your nearest out of hours service, you can either contact NHS Direct or consult the website of your local Primary care Trust. You can also find an emergency dentist by using the find a service option on the NHS website.
Do I have to pay for an NHS emergency dentist?
Emergency dental care is usually charged at the same rates as conventional NHS dental care; however some Primary Care Trusts have set standard charges for emergency treatment. The NHS now uses a banding system which means the cost of treatment is set within a specified price band; this reduces the cost of treatment and ensures patients are aware of how much their treatment will cost before they have it. Certain patients are expert from paying for dental treatment; this includes pregnant women or women that have given birth within the last 12 months, children under the age of 16 and children aged between 16 and 18 that are in full-time education and people that receive specified state benefit payments.
When does the NHS emergency dental care service run?
The emergency dental service runs at different times depending on where you live, but as a general guide the service runs during times when normal dental services are closed; usually, emergency services run during the evenings, weekends and on bank holidays. Some practices also have an emergency service which runs alongside a normal surgery but you will have to check to see if the practice you attend offers this service. You can consult the NHS website or contact your dentist directly to obtain this information.
Private emergency dentists
Private dentists also offer emergency dental services; if you are covered by private dental insurance you will usually be able to claim the cost of your treatment back from your provider. In the event of an emergency you should call your insurance provider to find out where your nearest emergency dentist is; usually you will have to book an appointment so you should contact the dentist before you turn up.
What to do if you lose a tooth
If you lose a tooth but still have the tooth, place it in a glass full of water or milk and seek help from a dentist as quickly as possible; it may be possible to save the tooth if you get help quickly enough. Try to avoid touching the root of the tooth and hold the tooth by the crown instead. The sooner you get to the dentist, the more chance there is of saving the tooth.