What is emergency dental treatment?
If you have never experienced a dental emergency, you might not be familiar with the provisions put in place to make sure you have access to treatment at short notice. Emergency dental care is a vital service because no one can predict when an accident or injury will occur, so it’s helpful to know that there is treatment available should the worst happen.
Most clinics operate twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, with services for registered and unregistered patients alike. The great thing about this is that it gives people an alternative to visiting the hospital, where doctors and nurses might not have the necessary skills and equipment to deal with enamel damage that is not a threat to overall health. Emergency dentists take patients out of the waiting room in A&E and into an environment where they can actually benefit from the right treatment in good time.
It’s not always easy to tell the different between a dental emergency and a medical one, so let’s take a look at some typical scenarios that represent an emergency;
Knocked-out teeth – No one wants to think about knocking one of their teeth out, but there are techniques that can be used to replace the teeth permanently. Teeth that have been knocked out of the socket need to be reintroduced as quickly as possible to encourage early healing and allow the tissue to recover. If the supporting ligaments have been severed, it may be necessary to splint the tooth to a sturdy one next to it – either temporarily or permanently.
Broken teeth – In some ways, broken teeth are more complicated to deal with than knocked out teeth because the structure is at risk of infection from the instant the damage is incurred. It is possible to repair the damage using composite bonding material but if the tooth has been too badly compromised, an extraction may be the only option.
Toothache – Although toothache might not seem like a very serious problem, it can sometimes be indicative of more difficult issues that need to be treated as quickly as possible, so the condition should not be ignored for too long. Treatment for toothache depends on the cause of the pain, which is normally either decay or gum disease, and antibiotics may be prescribed to fight bacterial infection from within.
Gum disease – Tissue infections are very common among adults in the UK and the sooner treatment is prescribed the easier it is to deal with it successfully; bacteria eventually causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and attack the supporting bone which can lead to extensive tooth loss. Without adequate treatment, the infection can spread into the jaw bone and beyond, possibly resulting in a case of blood poisoning.
Infection – Abscesses are a typical sign of infection and they are not a real threat to general health unless they are left to deteriorate over a substantial period of time. Even if they are not instantly painful, the dentist needs to drain and sanitise the area as soon as possible before the abscesses get larger and more troublesome.
Can I get my teeth whitened?
Tooth bleaching is not an emergency treatment so you would not be able to obtain an appointment for this type of procedure, if you are looking for a cosmetic treatment like this you would be better speaking to a regular dentist rather than an emergency surgeon. It’s highly unlikely that you would find a short notice booking for elective whitening treatment and these appointments are needed for people who have suffered dental trauma, so you would actually be taking up important time that dentists should be spending on others. Dental discolouration might be unsightly and possibly unhealthy if it is combined with other conditions, but that doesn’t mean you need immediate treatment or you are at risk of tooth loss overnight, so book an appointment with your regular dentist and go from there, instead of contacting the emergency clinic.
Is emergency treatment expensive?
It has to be said that organising treatment at short notice is always going to be more expensive than arranging an appointment for several weeks’ time, primarily because it is not easy to arrange surgical treatment right away without spending more time and money preparing the surgery. Price is certainly something you should be aware of before you approach a dentist for assistance, but don’t let it be the deciding factor because you are unlikely to find a surgeon who charges a significantly lower amount; although price can vary from clinic to clinic, it is generally expected that the overall cost will be higher than it would be with a regular dentist. If you are unhappy with the price you are quoted, you are certainly free to look elsewhere but if you are looking for immediate treatment then you might be short on options.
A lot of people are having trouble with money at the moment and if you are familiar with this situation it could be worth speaking to your dentist about the financing options that may be available; most dentists have some sort of payment plan in place to help patients afford the best treatment without bankrupting themselves. Emergency treatment is by no means unaffordable, but for people that are living on the edge, economically speaking, even a couple of hundred pounds can make the difference. Most dentists are open to negotiation as far as paying for the surgery in one lump sum goes, and it may be possible to arrange monthly payments to make the process easier. Not all clinics will work this way, but it’s worth checking if your dentist provides this service.
There’s no way to say how much your own individual treatment will cost, but it’s safe to assume that you are going to be paying more for emergency care than you would if you waited several weeks for an appointment. Make sure your dentist makes the applicable costs clear to you before going ahead with the treatment so that there are no nasty surprises when your invoice arrives.
If you are looking for a dentist that offers regular treatment and emergency care as standard, you won’t do better than the Pearl Dental Clinic; this London surgery runs 24-hours a day and provides appointments for registered and unregistered patients in the event of an emergency.