Many of us from time to time find ourselves with an emergency dental condition, often resulting in toothache. Whether this is the result of neglecting to go to the dentist, or having an accident like breaking your tooth, you often need to find a dentist at short notice – whether you opt for a 24 hours dentist or a short notice appointment with your local dentist. Toothpick co-founder Sandeep explains how to go about finding emergency dental care, what you could expect to pay and how it all works.
Dental emergencies are surprisingly common and have now become the leading reason why children are admitted to hospital in England. Emergency dental problems can range from a broken tooth, toothache or even damage as a result of a knock or fall. Often it is simply a result of neglecting to see a dentist on a regular basis, meaning small dental conditions grow into more serious ones. Some patients also have urgent dental needs e.g. repairing a tooth before an important meeting or holiday. As for most dental emergencies, seeking fast treatment is key.
Common emergency dental problems explained
Here is a list of the most common emergency dental problems with a brief explanation.
- Toothache – usually caused by extensive decay into the living nerve part of the tooth (ouch!).
- Chipped or cracked tooth – can be caused by biting on something hard or an old filling or crown fracturing due to wear and tear.
- Root canal treatment – this is a commonly used term when the nerve in the tooth is dead and an infection forms around the roots of the tooth.
- Damage due to a knock or fall – leading to fracture or even complete loss of a tooth.
- Lost filling, bridge or crown – usually affects older dental work and sometimes when temporary crowns or bridges are used between visits.
Finding urgent dental care
Most dentists offer an emergency service for their registered patients, although in England, NHS patients that are not receiving a course of treatment are not automatically entitled to receiving emergency NHS dental care. Contacting their out of hours number will be the first step and following their instructions to securing an appointment. For patients that don’t have access to their own dentist and those in need of a new dentist finding a 24-hour dentist will depend on where you live. In London, there are many private emergency dentists that will offer same day appointments. However, for more rural locations it is much harder to secure an appointment. Urgent medical issues are dealt with by the 111 service in England, however there is no guarantee that they will be able to find you a dentist.
Toothpick allows anyone to find a local NHS or Private dentist and secure an appointment online in less than 60 seconds. It doesn’t matter if you are seeing another dentist as there is no restriction on who you can see – unlike with GPs you do not have register with a dentist. Prices, reviews and the live appointment availability are all shown on the profile of the dentist.
Accident and Emergency departments and GP practices may be free at the point of service, however they do not have the correct facilities to treat dental emergencies and therefore are not the best choice.
Costs for emergency dental care
Dental costs will depend on a few factors:
1) The severity of the dental emergency
2) The time required to treat the problem
3) The treatment option selected
Some dentists charge a fixed amount regardless of the severity of the problem. The majority of dentists however will initially carry out an assessment using clinical judgment, diagnostic equipment e.g. X rays in order to discuss treatment options. Reducing your pain is usually the first step when toothache strikes and stabilizing a fractured tooth with a temporary filling.
- NHS emergency dental visits are charged at £18.80
- Private emergency dental visits are usually around £50-£100
It’s always worth getting to a dentist fast because delays usually create more costs, as treatment becomes more complex and time consuming.
The best cure for a dental emergency is to not have them! Make sure you see a dentist regularly to catch problems early. If you do end up in an emergency situation, you are free to visit any dentist who can see you at short notice. NHS appointments may be available but are in short supply, while private dentists are normally surprisingly competitive and some offer fixed price treatment for emergencies.