Toothache? Need to see a dentist?
“Doctor, I just need some antibiotics as my tooth is playing up”
We would love to help you, but did you know we are not trained or skilled in oral health?
If you have a dental issue which is causing you toothache, a course of antibiotics is often insufficient and you may require an operative intervention, such as root canal treatment. A full dental check is needed to find the underlying cause and treat this adequately. Sometimes the dentist may suggest a course of antibiotics as part of your treatment, which they are then responsible for prescribing.
However, if you have face pain but not sure if it is related to your tooth, we can assess you to make sure it is not a medical cause such as sinusitis or mumps for example.
“But my dentist isn’t seeing anyone due to COVID”
Dentists were ordered to close between March and June 2020, but are now open and seeing patients, especially those with urgent needs.
“My dental surgery has given me an appointment in 2 weeks, I can’t wait!”
We are proud of being able to provide good access to our patients, but we are not an alternative route to dentists. Dentists have their own protocols for emergencies and do provide this service. If your dentist is closed or you are not registered with one, you can call 111 who will give you advice.
Painkillers can be bought over the counter to help you whilst you wait, if these are not sufficient, then we can help by prescribing stronger pain relief. But that is the limit to what we can offer you.
It is rare, but possible that an untreated dental issue can lead to sepsis, which is a medical emergency. For this, hospital treatment would be required.
“I can’t afford to see the dentist, please, just give me some antibiotics”
Unfortunately, this is not something we have any control over. NHS dentists are cheaper than private dentists, you can search for a local NHS dentist on: www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-dentist
There are some people who qualify for free NHS dental treatment, you can check if you are eligible on the following website: www.nhs.uk/who-is-entitled-to-free-nhs-dental-treatment
“I understand you can’t safely assess me, but what about patient choice?”
You may choose to make an unwise decision for yourself, but as a prescriber we have to follow rules and take responsibility for own prescribing decisions.
Under the Dentists Act 1984, dentistry practice is restricted to registered dental professionals and those in training.
The General Medical Council and civil courts require doctors to have appropriate skills for any treatment they offer.
“I do not have a usual dentist or there is no response from my dentist and I need to be seen urgently, so what shall I do?”
To access the emergency dental service you will need to phone 111. They will assess you and, if necessary, your details will be forwarded to the Surrey Dental Helpline. You will then be offered an appointment with the local emergency dental service surreyandsussex.nhs.uk/emergency-dental-service. Please note that this is an appointment only service.