What is Emergency Dentistry?
Some dental injuries can be very difficult to deal with, primarily because it’s not always clear what course of action you should take; you need to consider if the situation is serious enough to take to a hospital, or if it can wait for an appointment with your regular dentist, however, a lot of people might not be familiar with the third option; the emergency clinic. Emergency dentistry serves the sole purpose of providing assistance for people who have suffered a dental injury and need immediate treatment, and most clinics will help those who are not even registered with them. The great thing about emergency surgeries is that they can take some of the pressure off the A&E departments at local hospitals, by giving some patients more specific dental care that nurses and doctors can’t provide. It’s always a good idea to keep the contact details of a local emergency dentists in a safe place, you never know when you might need some assistance; the Pearl Dental Clinic runs a twenty-four hour clinic, that’s open every day of the year – even Christmas and New Year, make a note of their number if you live in the London area, they can help with every kind of dental emergency.
How do I know what is a dental emergency?
It’s probably obvious that broken or knocked out teeth need to be treated promptly, especially if you want to save the damaged tooth, but there are some symptoms that are more difficult to diagnose; should you rush to the emergency dentist, or is it safe to wait and make an appointment? Let’s take a look at some of the more common complaints, which do need immediate attention from a dentist.
Broken or knocked-out teeth – These are not likely to be confused with a generic toothache, and they are normally very painful. Time is a real factor in this kind of situation, particularly with teeth that have been completely removed from their sockets, you need to get to the clinic with the hour, or the dentist won’t stand much chance of successfully reattaching the tooth. If you can, try replacing the tooth in the socket while you wait for treatment, but don’t attempt any type of dental surgery on yourself, it will only end in disaster. Be careful with twisted or fragmented teeth, trying to shift them with your fingers will cause more damage to the socket and might make treatment even more complicated. If you can’t fit the tooth back in the socket, wash it carefully – but don’t scrub away any remaining tissue particles – and keep it in a cup of milk until you get to the surgery. Lastly, don’t try and remove any broken sections of the tooth if they are still fixed in the socket, your dentist may be able to rebuild the structure from there, avoiding a complete extraction.
Long-lasting pain – You may have been told that toothache and dental pain is not a dental emergency, no matter how bad it gets, but in some circumstances, the discomfort is a symptom of more serious conditions, which should not be ignored. If you are in excruciating pain, don’t listen to anyone who tells you to take some painkillers and just go to bed, your life could be at risk if you don’t get assessed by a professional. Very obvious, throbbing toothaches, or shooting pains, are associated with bacterial infection, which, if left without treatment, can spread to the rest of the body, causing very serious health problems. Of course, sometimes toothache can seem worse than it is, especially if it stops you eating or sleeping, but the general consensus is ‘better safe than sorry’, take your problem to the emergency clinic; it might turn out to be a dental cavity or an impacted molar, neither of which are life-threatening, but it’s better to start minor treatment before you take a turn for the worse.
Abscesses or facial swelling – Small abscesses are not considered a major emergency, but they do need treatment, to stop them from developing into a more dangerous condition. It’s possible for abscesses to grow inside the teeth as well as on the gums, and both types – periapical and periodontal – need to be treated in a timely fashion. Draining and cleaning are the two methods needed to deal with abscesses; they need to be drained quite quickly after they appear, otherwise the infection will start to spread and the bacteria will multiply within the body. When the infected fluid has been removed, an anti-bacterial agent is used to thoroughly clean the area, and remove all traces of the infection.
As mentioned above, small abscesses do require immediate attention, but if you suffer from larger, more painful swellings, you should forego the emergency dentists and go straight to the hospital – particularly if your symptoms include feelings of nausea and dizziness, or if you develop a sudden fever. These are signs of infection taking hold in your circulatory system, and you need to seek treatment immediately.
Is emergency dentistry expensive?
Because they are providing an all-hours service that might involve on-the-spot surgical procedures, emergency dentistry is often more expensive than your normal check-up might be. No one likes spending money on sudden expenses like this, but it’s one of those things that can’t be helped, unless you can predict when you will need emergency treatment. If you are really struggling for money, the clinic may sign you up as a registered patient, and allow you to pay in instalments, to make your out-goings easier.
Your surgeon should break down the applicable costs before your treatment begins, so that you know exactly what you are getting and how much it’s going to cost you. If you’re not happy with the price you have been quoted, you don’t have to go ahead with it, but be aware that you are not just paying for immediate treatment, you are likely to get much better results and service if you are prepared to spend a little bit extra.