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NHS England has published a series of Quick Guides around urgent care. They include Quick Guide: Unscheduled Dental Care developed to provide practical tips showing how to help relieve pressure on frontline services. Dentist Yasmin Allen explains its value:
When is the worst time to have an urgent dental problem? At the weekend or at night, when dental surgeries are closed, are likely to come top of the list.
It’s at these times that the motto “prevention better than cure” strikes a chord. But how can you control when a tooth may flare up, or when a swelling may appear?
Toothache comes in two main forms – a tooth problem relating to dental decay which can cause severe pain and/or swelling, or a gum problem causing infection pain and swelling. There are other causes such as wisdom tooth pain, jaw pain, cracked teeth but the majority of problems develop from a tooth or gum infection.
You can reduce your likelihood of developing oral problems by:
- Visiting your dentist regularly – you may be tired of hearing this advice – but that broken tooth that has not bothered you for many years may need treatment. Your dentist or dental care professional will also be able to provide advice on preventing oral disease.
- If you have any problems see your dentist sooner rather than later. Dental pain can often start intermittently and can disappear completely before coming back – with a vengeance.
That’s prevention, what if despite your best efforts a problem does occur or you have the misfortune of having a tooth knocked out or a filling breaking on a Sunday?
- Know who to call and where to go – NHS 111 should be your initial point of call for further advice and information on what services you can go to.
- Pain control: Take painkillers – Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (do not take if you have a medical condition that contraindicates the use of ibuprofen and do not exceed the maximum dose). You can also contact your local pharmacist for pain control advice.
NHS England has released the Quick Guide: Unscheduled Dental Care which provides information for dental services to ensure that the system can withstand any additional pressures over the winter period. This should ensure that during this winter services opening hours are up to date so that you are sent to the right place at the right time.
Finally for practical advice on a range of dental problems, please see the NHS Choices website.