Even when you take regular care of your teeth, dental emergencies can still occur. When a dental emergency happens, the most essential step to take is to get treatment as soon as possible. Having your dental problem treated quickly could be the difference between saving or losing a tooth. No matter what your dental emergency is or what hour of the day or day of the week it occurs, our dentist at Encino emergency dentist in California will handle your problem. We will get you out of pain as fast as possible, and schedule follow up appointments or discuss any follow-up treatments you may need.
What Is a Dental Emergency?
A dental emergency is any dental issue that needs immediate treatment from a dentist. The issue may involve the tooth itself or the supporting tissue. Emergencies can range from a fractured tooth to a viral or fungal infection.
Generally, dental emergencies are any dental problems that require immediate treatment to alleviate severe pain, stop bleeding, or save a tooth. Severe and potentially life-threatening infections are also considered as dental emergencies.
The following are the most common symptoms of a dental emergency:
- You are bleeding from your gums
- You have a loose tooth or teeth with or without pain. An adult should not have any loose teeth
- You are in severe pain. Bleeding and severe pain are sometimes a sign of a dental emergency.
- You have an infection, such as an abscessed tooth. Sometimes you will notice knots and swelling in your gums or around your face when you have severe infections.
- You have lost a tooth. You need immediate treatment to save a knocked-out tooth
What Is Not a Dental Emergency?
If you can wait until a doctor can see you, then it is not a dental emergency. Some seemingly critical problems can usually wait for about a day if you take good care of yourself.
For example, if your tooth is broken or cracked, but there are no other symptoms, there is no need to rush to the emergency room. If the tooth has left sharp fragments that hurt your mouth, or if the pain is excruciating, then you need emergency dental services.
Similarly, if you have a toothache without severe pain, swelling, or bumps on the gums or a high fever, there is no need for emergency dental treatment.
Another dental non-emergency is when you have lost a filling or crown. As long as you are not in severe pain or bleeding, you can stick a piece of sugar-free gum in the cavity. You can also use over the counter dental cement or denture adhesive to stick the crown back temporarily as you wait to see a dentist.
Common Dental Emergencies
The most common dental emergencies include;
- A knocked-out tooth
- A loose tooth or a misaligned
- Chipped fractured or cracked teeth
- A dental absence
A Knocked-Out Tooth
A knocked-out tooth, also called an avulsed tooth, is a typical dental emergency. Over five million teeth are knocked out every year by both children and adults. Although a knocked-out tooth is one of the most serious dental emergencies for permanent teeth, the damage can be corrected if you act fast.
What to do if you have a knocked-out tooth
When a tooth is knocked out, the tissue, blood vessels, and nerves surrounding it are damaged in the process. It is not possible to repair the blood vessels and nerves. This is why all knocked out teeth require a root canal. The root of the tooth can, however, reattach to the bone tissue once the tooth is put back in place.
Children’s teeth have the highest chance of survival, but you can also save your tooth if you are an adult.
To raise the chances of saving your tooth, you need to handle it with care. Pick up the tooth by the crown. Never touch the root (the part that is usually under the gum) as it is easily damaged.
If the tooth is dirty, rinse off any dirt with clean water or milk. Do not use any chemicals or soap on the tooth. Do not rub the teeth, dry it, scrub it, or wrap it in a cloth or tissue.
If you can, reposition the knocked tooth in its socket. To do this, use your fingers to push the tooth in gently or hold the tooth in place and gently bite down on it. Do not try to reposition the tooth if it is a milk tooth as you may damage the growing permanent tooth.
If you cannot reposition the tooth, keep it moist all the time by putting it in a glass of milk or your mouth next to your cheek. You can also store it in an emergency tooth replacement kit. If your child has a knocked-out tooth, do not ask them to put the tooth in their mouth as they might swallow it. Do not use tap water to store your knocked-out tooth. The cells on the surface of the tooth’s root cannot handle that for an extended period.
Use a sterile gauze or piece of cloth to control bleeding. If you have any swelling, use a cold compress on the area, or if it is your child that has a knocked-out tooth, have them suck on a frozen pop.
See a dentist within thirty minutes of losing your tooth. Although it is possible to save an avulsed tooth even when it has been outside the mouth for an hour, it is advisable to see a dentist within thirty minutes.
If someone with knocked-out teeth is unconscious or has a severe injury, you should call 911 immediately.
What Your Dentist Will Do
If you have repositioned your tooth, the dentist will ensure it is in its correct position by using an X-ray or just by having a look. The dentist will then splint the tooth to the teeth near it. Splitting is used to hold a tooth back in position temporarily.
If you placed your tooth in milk, the doctor will reposition it and then splint it to the neighboring teeth for about two to eight weeks. The dentist may perform a root canal immediately or decide to wait, depending on how long the tooth was out of your mouth.
If the bone tissue around your tooth is not damaged, your tooth will reattach firmly to the bone in three or four weeks. If the bone was damaged, you might need six to eight weeks for the tooth to be firm.
Your dentist might also schedule an appointment in three to six months. After that, your next appointment should be at your yearly checkup, unless you have an infection. The dentist will also follow up for the next two years to ensure that the tooth re-implanted successfully.
A Loose Tooth or Tooth That Is Out of Alignment
While a loose tooth is an exciting rite of passage for a child, it becomes a cause for alarm if it happens after adolescence. After all, permanent teeth are designed to last a lifetime.
A loose tooth can occur due to several reasons. Some of the most common ones include:
- Injury to the teeth
- Gum disease
If your tooth or teeth become loose as a result of grinding, you should talk to your dentist right away. Grinding is a problem that can be treated to prevent your teeth from further damage. Your dentist will prescribe a mouth guard to wear to prevent your teeth from grinding against each other.
The hormones estrogen and progesterone increase during pregnancy. These hormones can affect the periodontium, leading to one or more loose teeth.
When this happens, there is no need for alarm. The problem will resolve itself after pregnancy. However, If you experience pain or have a very loose tooth, you should see a dentist to rule out other oral health problems such as gum disease.
The American dental association and the American congress of obstetricians and gynecologists agree that it is safe for pregnant women to undergo dental checkups, X-rays, and cleanings. They even recommend that pregnant women visit the dentist regularly because gum disease is thought to cause premature births.
Injury to the Teeth
Although healthy teeth are strong, they may become loose during a car accident or when someone hits your face during a sporting activity.
Clenching and grinding your teeth when angry or stressed can also result in chipped or loose teeth and jaw pain. Most people who clench their teeth do not realize they are damaging their teeth until they start to experience pain. A dentist can detect the problem before you cause permanent damage to your teeth.
If you suspect that your teeth are damaged after an injury, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones and causes them to become porous so that they are easily damaged even by minor impacts.
Although osteoporosis is most common in the hips, spine, and wrists, it can also damage the bone that supports your teeth. When the jaw bone loses its density, your teeth may loosen and sometimes fall out.
Gum disease is among the top causes of loose permanent teeth.
Gum disease starts as gingivitis, and infection that causes your gums to bleed, become tender or red. Gum disease should be treated urgently to prevent it from advancing to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth along the gum line. When not removed, plaque becomes tartar, which destroys the gum. The gum bleeds when brushed and recedes from the teeth, leaving pockets that trap bacteria, causing the condition to worsen.
If you have not had an injury that would cause loose teeth, and you do not grind your teeth, you should see a dentist as soon as you see the following symptoms:
- Red tender and swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Bleeding during or after brushing
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Deep pockets developing between your teeth and gums
Treatment for A Loose Tooth
A bite guard or retainer can help prevent tooth grinding.
Other treatments include:
- Scaling and root planing to deeply clean, treat, and reverse gum disease
- Mouth rinses and medications can help heal infected gums and fight bacteria in the mouth
- Surgery is sometimes used to remove inflamed bone and gum tissue that has been damaged by gum disease.
- Bone grafts to rebuild bone loss due to gum disease
- Treatment for diabetes. Appropriate diabetes treatment is vital for proper dental health
In case your loose tooth falls out, your dentist will restore your smile with a dental implant or a dental bridge. A dental implant is an artificial tooth with a root that is connected to the jawbone. A dental bridge, on the other hand, is a prosthetic tooth used to replace the missing tooth. The false tooth has a crown that fits over the teeth on either side of the missing tooth.
Preventing Loose Teeth
You cannot always prevent loose teeth, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. Some tips for healthy gums and teeth include:
- Floss your teeth daily
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Refrain from smoking
- Be aware of any medication that can affect your teeth
- Wear a well-fitted mouthguard whenever you are playing sports or if you are prone to grinding or clenching your teeth
- Ask your doctor for vitamin D and calcium supplements to help prevent osteoporosis
- Keep diabetes under control as it is a risk factor for gum disease
Chipped Fractured or Cracked Teeth
The tooth’s enamel is remarkably strong, but it has its limits. It can crack, chip, or break if you:
- Bite down on something hard
- Fall and hit your face
- Are hit on the face or mouth
- Have cavities that weaken your tooth
What to Do If You Have a Fractured Tooth
If you have a broken, fractured, or cracked tooth, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. Leaving a broken tooth untreated can create room for infections that could cause more harm to the tooth.
Until you can see a dentist, you should:
- Rinse your mouth with warm salty water
- Use a cold pack on your cheek and lips to reduce swelling and pain
- Press a gauze or a tea bag on any bleeding area to stop the bleeding
- Cover the fractured tooth with a piece of sugarless chewing gum or dental cement to prevent it from cutting your inner cheeks or your tongue
- Take an over the counter pain reliever to alleviate the pain
What Your Dentist Will Do
Different types of tooth fractures require different treatments. For instance, minor cracks or craze lines that only affect the outer surface of the tooth rarely need treatment. Even then, you should still see a dentist to smooth out any rough spots and lightly polish the area.
A cracked tooth can be repaired using filling material and a crown to prevent the crack from worsening. If your pulp is damaged, your dentist will perform a root canal.
Like minor cracks, chips do not always need treatment. Your dentist will polish and smoothen the affected area or use a filling material to improve the tooth’s appearance.
If your tooth’s cusps (the pointed chewing surface) breaks, your dentist will repair the damage and restore the tooth’s shape. In most cases, however, you will need a crown or on-lay.
If you have a severe crack that exposes the pulp, you will need a root canal treatment and a crown to enable you to eat and chew properly. Such a break is usually painful, and you may experience bleeding.
A tooth that has split vertically into two separate parts will require a root canal treatment. Your dentist will also have to remove any roots that cannot be kept and replace the tooth with a crown. If it is not possible to save any of your tooth's root, your dentist will have to extract the tooth.
Sometimes your tooth will break from the root up. These types of breaks are accompanied by excruciating pain because the pulp may be infected or inflamed. In most scenarios, the dentist will have to extract the tooth.
If you have untreated tooth decay, it can cause your teeth to crumble from the inside out. Your dentist will examine the cavity and recommend the best treatment method. If the decay extends down to the bone, your tooth might have to be removed.
A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in different parts of a tooth or gum due to a bacterial infection. When you have a dental abscess or abscessed tooth, you will experience moderate to severe pain that will sometimes spread to your neck or ears.
Always treat a dental abscess as an emergency. If left untreated, it can develop into a severe and life-threatening condition.
There are three different types of dental abscesses: periapical abscess, which occurs at the tip of your tooth's root, a periodontal abscess that occurs on the gum close to a tooth, and sometimes spreads to the surrounding bone and tissue, and gingival abscess which occurs on the gums.
What Are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?
The primary symptom of a dental abscess is agonizing pain in your gums or near a tooth. The pain will usually come on suddenly and worsen over time.
Other common symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain that spreads to your ears or neck
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Facial swelling and redness
- Pain that worsens when you lie down
- Foul taste in your mouth
- Loose and discolored teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Bad breath
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
When an abscess ruptures, you will notice a sudden foul taste in your mouth as the pus drains. The pain will also disappear almost immediately. Even when the abscess ruptures, you should still visit a dentist to prevent the infection from spreading. When left untreated, a dental abscess can spread to other parts of your body, such as your neck, head, and even brain. In rare cases, it can cause sepsis, which is a life-threatening complication.
If any of the following symptoms accompany your abscessed tooth, you should go straight to the emergency room:
- Facial swelling
- Rapid heart rate
- High fever
- Difficulty swallowing
What Your Dentist Will Do
If you cannot get to a doctor right away, take over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs to help ease your pain. You can also rinse your mouth with warm salty water.
Your dentist will focus on relieving your pain and clearing the infection. Depending on your symptoms, you might need an X-ray to determine whether the infection has spread to other areas. Treatment options depend on how severe your abscess is. The most common treatment options are:
- Draining the abscess- your dentist will drain the pus from the abscess by making a small cut and then use a saline solution to clean up the area.
- Root canal treatment- your dentist might need to drill into the affected tooth to remove the infected pulp and drain the abscess. They will then fill the pulp chamber and root You might also get another appointment to have a crown procedure done.
- Tooth extraction- if your tooth is too damaged to be saved, your dentist will have no option but to pull it out before draining the abscess.
- Antibiotics- if you have a weakened immune system, or the abscess has spread to other areas, your dentist will prescribe antibiotic drugs to clear the infection
- Removing the foreign object- if your dental abscess is due to a foreign object in your gums, your dentist will remove the object and clean the area with a saline solution
Contact an Emergency Dentist Near Me
Dental emergencies rarely give a warning before they attack. You should not waste any time before getting to a dentist when you think you might have a dental emergency. At Encino Emergency Dentist in Encino, California, we are always ready to help. Even when you are not sure that what you have is a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to call us at 818-850-2969. We will answer any questions you have and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.