Emergency Dental Appointments
Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them, but most individuals, at some point in their lives, will require emergency dental treatment. An emergency appointment is something that simply cannot wait a week or two until you can make a regular appointment.
If you think you urgently need treatment you should always first contact the dental surgery you normally attend and request an emergency appointment. If you do not have a regular dentist or registered surgery, then you should contact the NHS for information on local dental hospitals or surgeries that may be able to assist. If this is outwith normal surgery opening times and can't wait until the morning, then you should phone NHS Direct on 0845 4647, or the NHS 111 number (if this is available in your area) for self-care advice.
What Is Considered Urgent?
Emergency treatment can fall into many different categories, some more urgent than others. Although unlikely to be life threatening, serious damage to the teeth or gums can result in intolerable pain and/or loss of teeth. You may have developed a swelling that suggests an infection requiring immediate attention, or a severe toothache that cannot be eased by over-the-counter pain killers. Your emergency could also be related to an accident or an assault, where there is facial trauma and damage to, or loss of, teeth. Sometimes uncontrolled bleeding can occur after the removal of a tooth, which would also be considered an emergency.
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Some emergency treatment on the NHS is free and you will not be required to pay a charge if, for instance, the dentist has to stop bleeding from the mouth. If unsure, ask before attending.
Emergency and NHS dental care will usually cost you around £18, however you will not be charged for emergency out of hours care if you already receive free NHS dental treatment. Most urgent treatments can be dealt with in one visit but if you are required to return to complete a course of treatment, you will generally only need to pay a single Band 1 charge of £18 (inclusive). Should you then need to return at a later date to monitor the condition of the initial repair or treatment, then this would normally be treated as a new appointment and new charges may be applied.
Before searching for an emergency dentist, make sure your problem is actually an emergency, or you may be charged at a different rate. Also be aware that if you attend an out of hours dental hospital or surgery, you may need to wait a long time in order to be seen, depending on the urgency of your case and how busy it is - a little like the A & E department of a hospital. If you can wait until morning, in the comfort of your own home, this may be a better option for you.
Private Emergency Dentists
An online search should provide you with a comprehensive list of private emergency dentists in your area, who will often be able to provide treatment to you within the hour. The British Dental Association website is a good starting point and you will be able to enter your postcode for a list of local dentists. You will need to pay for this appointment, as it is not NHS treatment, however if your condition is causing you distress, it may well be worth it. Always make sure your dentist is registered within the General Dental Council website and insured to undertake the treatment. Online dental registers are updated daily.