21 December 2016

The Oral Health Foundation is issuing an important reminder this Christmas that waiting until January to get dental treatment could lead to serious problems and that help is available for those who need it.

The charity would like you to be aware of the services available over the holidays in order to avoid any dental pain or discomfort which could ruin your festive celebrations.

The Oral Health Foundation is encouraging those already registered with an NHS dentist to contact their dental practice ahead of the weekend to check their opening times over the festive period.

The charity is also reminding those who are not currently registered with a dentist that there are provisions available. Information on how to access emergency dental treatment over the holidays is available through NHS 111. This non-emergency service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Important information can also be found through the NHS Choices website which signposts dental services which are open in your local area.

Speaking on the issue Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: "A lot has been made recently over the issue of emergency dental access. England's Chief Dental Officer was challenged on live television to prove that the system works, as such we want to let everybody know that there is a service out there which works for them and they do not need to suffer over the holidays, or any other time of the year.

"A trip to the dentist is not a great treat for anybody at Christmas, but leaving it until the New Year is a terrible idea. What may seem like a relatively small issue could soon develop into something more serious, resulting in pain or discomfort and ruining your ability to enjoy your favourite festive food and drink."

If you have any ongoing issues which you have been holding on to get sorted in January, the Oral Health Foundation is urging you to get them sorted now as the problems may worsen over the holidays.

Dr Carter added: "For many people, you may feel helpless about getting the treatment you need at this time of year but there is help out there. Our message is if you need help, you will get it, make yourself aware of how to get it ahead of time so you have no need to panic.

"You may be tempted to visit your local A&E services with your dental problems over the holidays, but you should be aware that they are often unable to offer help for general dental problems and you will may face a longer than average wait over the holiday period.

"You should only visit A&E if you if you are bleeding excessively and it won't stop, have trauma of the face, mouth or teeth after a recent accident or injury, or have excessive swelling. "Finally, it is important to ensure you take care of your oral health over the holidays yourself, the same as you would any other day of the year.

"Make sure you brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste; cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend."

Outside of the festive season you can also get help from either the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) where you can perform a postcode search under services; or the NHS 'Find a Dentist' telephone service (0300 311 2233) who will be able to put you in touch with dental services in your area. This telephone service is closed from December 24 - 27 and December 29 - January 2.

Either of these services can let you know which dentists in your area are taking on new NHS patients so that you can register for ongoing care. The Oral Health Foundation also offers their own Dental Helpline which offers free, impartial and expert advice to those who need it via 01788 539 780, the service is also closed over the festive period.