I'm recovering from a long bout of depression during which I neglected to look after my teeth as a form of self harm.
About a month ago I visited my dentist for a checkup and I have been referred to a clinic which offers sedation for the extractions I need, but due to the waiting list I will have to wait until January.
Unfortunately my jaw has become infected. I went back to my dentist and was given a course of antibiotics, which I have completed but the pain from both the damaged teeth and the swollen lymph glands is still present.
I get the feeling that if I go to my GP, they'll tell me to go back to my dentist, who will tell me to contact the other clinic, who will tell me to wait until January.
Please can somebody give me some advice? The pain is overwhelming my ability to concentrate and is causing me to lose sleep.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Hi there. First off, get back to your dentist. It sounds like you'll need more antibiotics, they won't usually consider doing an extraction with infection present.
Probably a decade ago now I had a tooth pulled due to an abscess developing underneath it, for which I was prescribed a course of amoxicillin. As someone who suffers from significant dental anxiety, the prospect of having a tooth pulled terrified me, and so like yourself, I pushed my dentist for sedation and was referred to a specialist dentist who was equipped to do that (who I had to pay handsomely for the privilege).
On the day though, the specialist refused to do it under sedation because I had turned up alone (seems obvious now, but I just didn't know at the time), so I decided to go ahead there and then with a local anaesthetic, mostly because I could not afford to muck about with more antibiotics and waiting for another appointment. The extraction itself was unpleasant, but completely painless and honestly it was a total relief to be rid of that bad tooth once and for all.
A year or two later I had four more teeth extracted in preparation for orthodontic work, and due to the aforementioned experience I found I was able to proceed with that under local anaesthesia. The worst part of having a tooth pulled in my experience, aside from the anxiety, has been dealing with the open socket in the weeks following, which you still have to deal with after a sedation anyway.
Good luck whatever you decide, I hope you can get it sorted swiftly.
I had a tooth extracted without sedation a few years ago and because of some extra roots it took the dentist twice as long as she'd expected to extract it.
After that I found that I was having panic attacks during simple check-ups.
I don't know what's wrong with me. Going on a bit of a tangent, but every time I look for inspiration I'm told to stop wasting my time.
I'll book an appointment with my dentist to see if I can get more antibiotics.
 My dentist is unavailable today. His receptionist has asked me to call back tomorrow.
Just a quick update, I've been back to visit my dentist and been prescribed a more powerful antibiotic.
There's been a huge increase in the pain level and my dentist will be closed all weekend and on Monday.
Still a few days of medication left so I'll try to be patient. It's difficult to focus through all the pain.
Hi Anthus Tenebris,
I'm sorry to hear you have been depressed, but glad you are recovering and now have some stronger antibiotics too.
GPs used to be able to get whichever service or clinic they were referring their patient to to prioritise that patient (i.e. regard them as an urgent case and put them at or near the top of their waiting list) - it may be that they still can, so can your dentist tell the sedation clinic that they need to see you urgently because you are in so much pain?
Otherwise, hospitals (I assume all of them) provide emergency dental treatment, including extractions, so you could try your local hospital, if your dentist can't get the clinic to prioritise you - or if the pain is too much over the bank holiday weekend.
There is some information here: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/dental-health/how-can-i-access-an-nhs-dentist-in-an-emergency-or-out-of-hours/ about emergency NHS dentists and a section called 'When to go to hospital' (i.e. A&E), which lists 'severe pain' as one of the reasons. From what you have said, you are in very severe pain so would be entitled to go to your A&E.
I hope you manage to have the extractions done somewhere soon, as that sounds really painful.
I'll see how the antibiotics affect it.
When I last spoke to my dentist he said it was out of his hands, so A&E might be my next point of contact.
Hope the antibiotics reduce the pain. That's not massively helpful of your dentist (does he know just how much pain you are in?). A&E would at least have to see you and treat you if you were in severe pain. Hope you get it dealt with, as until January is a really long time to wait.
I've described the severity and spreading locations of the pain to my dentist, and he's aware of my anxiety issues. Maybe he's got a lot of patients to see.
The pain feels slightly milder this morning, so I'll see if that continues.
I hope the pain has continued to be milder with these new antibiotics. (As for your dentist, the number of patients he has to see shouldn't affect what he tells the clinic when referring you - he had to contact them to refer you anyway, so you being in so much pain wasn't giving him anything extra to do.) Do hope the antibiotics have helped, anyway.
I tried calling my GP today. Their practise has a policy where you have to call at 8am to book a same day appointment, but the lines were busy for at least 40 minutes.
When I got through there were no appointments left, but I was asked to describe my symptoms and was told a doctor will phone me back.
The pain is reduced but still as widespread and I have 1 dose of the antibiotics left.
It's good that a doctor will be calling you back. My GP has a similar policy and I always find it really difficult (or impossible) to get an appointment. At least it sounds as though they are taking you seriously. I really hope they help you.