How can you access a emergency NHS dentist if you are not registered with a dentist?
What should you do if you are registered with a dentist but your practice is closed overnight, at weekends or on a bank holiday?
Most NHS dentists are only contracted by the NHS to provide dental care for their registered patients, and only during their open hours.
Whether you are registered or not, whether its night, day or a bank holiday – there will always be an emergency NHS dentist available in your area with emergency appointments usually available within the next 48 hours, and urgent appointments usually available within a week or two. (You can find out the difference between emergency and urgent appointments below.)
NHS budgets are however limited, and the NHS has a duty to make healthcare as cost effective as possible.
You may have to wait longer than usual for an urgent or emergency appointment due to the effects of COVID-19.
Managing dental problems at home
You can read our online guides for managing the following conditions at home:
If you are unsure if it is safe for you take ibuprofen or paracetamol (e.g. if you have an allergy, asthma sensitive to NSAIDs, stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart failure, or you are pregnant) or you already know you are unable to use them, then ask your pharmacist for advice or visit the NHS 111 website.
- Paracetamol is available to buy over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies. Shop own brands are usually the best value. You can also buy paracetamol online from a pharmacist (or from Amazon: Panadol tablets, Calpol SixPlus, Calpol Infant).
- Ibuprofen is available to buy over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies. Shop own brands are usually the best value. You can also buy ibuprofen online from a pharmacist (or from Amazon: Nurofen tablets, Nurofen for Children).
Temporary fillings and cement
Temporary filling and cement kits are available to buy for use at home and may be of some help for some conditions like a lost filling or crown.
When and how to get help from an emergency NHS dentist
Depending on your dental problem, you should access routine, urgent or emergency dental care:
Routine Dental Care
The following issues do not usually require emergency or urgent dental care and should be attended to by a general dentist in a routine appointment:
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Mild dental or oral pain
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Broken, lost or loose fillings
- Broken, lost or loose caps, crowns, inlays, onlays, veneers or bridges
- Loose, broken or lost dentures
If you are registered with a dentist
Check your dentist’s website for information on how and when to contact them for further advice. If your dental practice does not have a website then call them during their open hours and ask for advice instead.
If you are not registered with a dentist
Urgent Dental Care
If you have any of the following issues then the NHS will provide help, even if your dentist if closed or you are not registered with a dentist:
- Signs of spreading infection (E.g. fever, tiredness, sore or swollen glands/nodes in your neck)
- Oral or facial swelling
- Severe oral or dental pain
- Dental trauma (E.g. a broken tooth which is sore or bleeding)
- Trismus (lockjaw)
- A dental or oral problem that might affect a medical condition
- Suspected oral cancer
If you are registered with a dentist
Check your dentist’s website for details on when and how to contact them during their open hours. If they are closed then try to wait until they reopen to contact them.
If you are not registered with a dentist, or you cannot wait for your dental practice to reopen
Visit the NHS 111 website for information on your local emergency and out of hours dental service, who can assess and triage your case. If its found that you need to see an an emergency NHS dentist, then an appointment will be offered within 48 hours – usually the same day or next day.
Emergency Dental Care
If you have any of the following issues then you should seek emergency help right away:
- Persistent bleeding (after applying pressure for 60 minutes)
- Severe facial swelling which is rapidly worsening, spreading, closing your eye, preventing you from opening your mouth, or affecting your ability to swallow or breathe
- Severe dental trauma (E.g. a recently knocked out tooth)
If you are registered with a dentist and the practice is open, then call your dentist right away for further help and advice.
If you are not registered with a dentist or your dental practice is closed, then visit the NHS 111 website or call NHS 111 for further help and advice right away. You may need to see an emergency NHS dentist or attend your local hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department.