Many things constitute a dental emergency, from a chipped tooth to a broken jaw. Common dental emergencies also include bitten lips or tongues, tooth ache, objects caught between teeth, extruded teeth and teeth being knocked out. This list is not exhaustive, but a dental emergency is something which disrupts your life temporarily and stops you from carrying on as usual. It may also be something which needs quick treatment before the condition worsens. Dental emergencies are a very common occurrence in life, and it is important to know how to deal with them safely and efficiently.
Who provides emergency dentistry?
Most dentists make provisions for emergencies by keeping some of their daily appointments clear to deal with such cases. However, emergencies obviously do not always happen in convenient office hours, which is why some practices offer a 24 hour emergency dental service. If your dentist provides out-of-hours treatment, they will usually give you a number to contact them on, besides the normal practice phone number.
What to do in a dental emergency
If you are in pain and/or have visible damage to one or more of your teeth during working hours, the first thing you should do is call your dentist. Explain the problem clearly, being sure to express that it is an emergency. If the emergency happens outside of working hours and your dentist does not offer 24 hour service, or if you are not registered with a dentist, you should contact NHS direct. They will put you in touch with your nearest emergency dentist. Always be sure to explain that it is an emergency which requires immediate treatment.
At your emergency appointment, the dentist will decide what work needs to be done straight away, and what can wait until a regular appointment. They may decide that all of the work needs to be done there and then, or they may just patch the problem until a later date, depending on the severity of the complaint.
It is a bad idea to try and perform any emergency dentistry of your own at home, as this generally leads to further complications. If you are in pain, take some painkillers, but make sure you read the instructions and tell your dentist what you have taken. Otherwise, it is best to leave the problem alone. An emergency dentist will generally try to fit you in on the same day, so you should not have too long to wait.