The dental emergency clinic is an important area for any dental service. Such departments are usually staffed by clinicians with a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience. This book does not attempt to be exhaustive but is a guide to help clinicians with the management of the wide variety of patients that may present. An attempt is made, where appropriate, to place patient management in an academic context. Introduction to the dental emergency clinic The dental emergency clinic (DEC) is an important part of the service provided to patients. It is a demanding environment in which to work for main two reasons. First, many patients who attend such departments have a general tendency to avoid dental treatment and view attending such a department as a last resort. Second, from the point of view of the clinicians who work in such clinics, the clinical spectrum is wide, and although there is no remit to provide a specialist service, the boundaries of knowledge and experience for clinicians in certain areas are approaching this. Clinical staff working in these departments need a wide skill mix. This textbook aims to summarise important areas of knowledge with which practitioners working in the DEC should be familiar. Modern clinical working often requires adherence to protocols, and a summary of some of the more important current management protocols, together with supporting evidence, is provided in the appendices. For maximum efficiency in any department that deals with emergencies, a system of triage is immensely valuable.
Triage is essentially the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatment on the basis of severity of their condition. Triage should result in determining the order and priority of a patient’s emergency treatment and occasionally their onward transport. In the DEC, emergency situations include those where the airway may be compromised due to infection or trauma. Such patients must be assessed promptly and referred quickly for onward management. Other patients, who may have sustained trauma, need to be assessed expeditiously, particularly from the point of view of airway and vital signs, and also possible head injury and concomitant injuries, which in some cases may take priority over the facial