Most NHS dentists are only contracted to provide dental care for their registered patients, and only during their open hours. So how can you access a 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?
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. NHS budgets are however limited, and the NHS has a duty to make healthcare as cost effective as possible. Dental care can be routine, urgent or emergency. The type of care you need will affect how you should access the available NHS dental services. This helps the budget stretch to provide as much healthcare to as many patients as possible.
Routine Dental Care
If you have dental pain which can be controlled with over-the-counter pain relief, or you have a loose, broken or lost tooth/filling/crown/cap/veneer/bridge/denture or bleeding gums then you should contact your dentist during their normal open hours for further advice. If you are not registered with a dentist then you should find a local NHS dentist and register as soon as possible for a routine appointment.
Urgent Dental Care
If you have constant severe dental pain which cannot be controlled with over-the-counter pain relief, signs of spreading infection (like fever, tiredness or sore/swollen glands in your neck), oral/facial swelling or you have ongoing bleeding (after applying pressure for 60 minutes), then the NHS will provide help, even if your dentist if closed or you are not registered with a dentist.
Call NHS 111 for information on your local emergency and out of hours dental services who will assess and triage your case. If its found that you need to see an an emergency dentist, then an appointment will be offered within 48 hours – usually the same day or next day.
Emergency Dental Care
If you have severe facial swelling which is rapidly worsening, spreading, closing your eye, preventing you from opening your mouth, or affecting your ability to swallow or breath then you should seek emergency help. You may need to see an emergency dentist or attend your local hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department. Call NHS 111 immediately for further advice.