What treatments can I get at an emergency dental clinic?
If you live in one of the larger cities in the UK, you may have access to an emergency dental clinic that operates within the NHS. You will have to pay a small fee for your treatment but this will be much less than the charge made by a private emergency dental clinic.
Both NHS and private emergency dental clinics provide emergency dentistry for a wider range of urgent dental problems than an out-of-hours emergency dentist. Some of the largest clinics operate a ‘walk-in’ service and it's possible to access the dentists in the emergency dental clinic without making a booking or an appointment. Patients are seen purely on a "first come first served" basis until the clinic is full to capacity, although very urgent trauma cases are always given priority.
Can an emergency dental clinic replace a lost tooth?
This depends on the time that it takes you to get to the emergency dental clinic once your tooth has been knocked out, and also what state the tooth is in. If it was knocked out cleanly, retrieved quickly, and washed carefully and you get to the emergency dental clinic within 20-30 minutes, there is a good chance that the emergency dentist will be able to restore the tooth to its socket.
When you arrive at the emergency dental clinic the dental technician will take the avulsed tooth and gently wash it, rinsing the root with a solution containing sterile saline and an antibiotic. The dentist treating you will also rinse the socket and gum, checking for serious trauma damage to your mouth. Any debris or blood clots will be removed and the tooth will then be placed gently back into position. You may then be given a temporary support to hold the tooth in place, to give it the best chance of grafting back into your gum.
The emergency dental clinic will then provide you with information about how to take care of your mouth and a report to take back to your usual dentist who you should then arrange to see in the next few days.
How does an emergency dental clinic treat a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess that gets very painful and is obviously causing swelling beneath the infected tooth needs emergency dental treatment as there is a danger that the infection could spread to the muscle nearby or could penetrate the jaw bone. The dentist who assesses you when you arrive at the emergency dental clinic may decide that the tooth needs to be drilled so that the build up of pus and fluid can escape. This will mean an emergency root canal.
The infected material will be rinsed out and the infected tissue that forms the pulp and root of the tooth will be extracted. The inside of the root canal will then be filled to stop it becoming infected again. The emergency dental clinic will be able to send you away with antibiotics and recommendations for painkillers to continue to ease the pain, but the worst of the pressure will have gone.
During the next few days, the inflammation in your gum under the tooth will reduce, but you will need to see your own dentist for a check up to make sure all is well. Your tooth will be effectively dead from now on, but if it is not already loose, it should stay in place for at least a decade.
Can I go to an emergency dental clinic for a less urgent problem?
Some of the larger emergency dental clinics, particularly the ones in London, operate a walk-in emergency dental service. You do not need an appointment, and the emergency dentists will always give preference to someone who comes in bleeding from an accident that has knocked some of their teeth out.
If you have simply lost a filling or a crown and want to have the problem sorted out until you can see your own dentist, you can be treated but you will probably face a substantial wait in the queuing system. A small emergency dental clinic with only one dentist and a dental nurse available may not be able to help, but could be willing to provide advice on how to make yourself more comfortable until you can obtain dental care.
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