I went to bed last night with a bit of a twinge in my jaw. I woke at 2am with a full-blown throbbing pain, and I didn't get much sleep after that. It hurts a lot less when not horizontal, so I spent most of the night sitting up, reading.
At 8am, I phoned my dentist, and the recorded message gave me the number of the emergency dentist. I phoned that, and discover that they opened at 9am.
At 9.01 I phoned again, and a nice lady took my particulars, and said that a dental nurse would call me back within an hour. 45 minutes later, the dental nurse called, and went into a lot more detail about what hurt, and then invited me to call round as soon as I could get there.
Which I did; 30 minutes drive to Aylesbury, easy parking, no waiting and a couple of forms to fill in. There was a real dentist there too, and she listened to my story, had a look, and went into action. First, some anaesthetic, but it was just a dab-on thing tasting of bubblegum. Then she nudged at the swelling on my gum with a cotton wool stick (she might have pricked it first, but I didn't feel it), absorbing the bad-stuff, and after a few minutes, it was "Rinse now". Cost £17.50. All done, then off to Morrisons to get the Erythromycin antibiotic prescription filled, free as I'm over 60.
So now I take the antibiotics for a week, and phone my usual dentist for an appointment first thing Monday; he'll probably see me at the end of the week, but I rather think that by then, it'll all be over, because it seems that it's a gum infection, not a tooth, so (hopefully) no drilling required.
Bless the NHS. Americans have absolutely no idea. They could have the same thing, but they don't.