No matter how careful you are, it is almost impossible to avoid all dental related problems. At a point in your life, you may find yourself having a dental emergency. You may have a toothache, a broken tooth, swollen or painful gums, or a dental infection. Whenever you or your loved one experiences any of these teeth problems, the first step should always be to contact and consult with an emergency dentist. Washington Dental is always available for your dental emergencies, our dentists serve all of Los Angeles, CA and surrounding areas. We offer a free exam and digital X-rays for all new patients and can help you get out of pain right away. We also offer same day dental appointments.

What Are Some of the Common Dental Emergencies?

Cracked or Broken Tooth: A cracked tooth may occur from being hit while participating in sports, biting on a hard piece of food, grinding harshly and clenching your teeth. Either way, a cracked tooth can be both painful and scary. A cracked tooth could also lead to other dental emergencies because the nerves in the tooth may be exposed, leading to discomfort, pain, and secondary infections. The tooth also may become sensitive to changes in the temperature or acidity in the mouth. Even though a chipped may not be a dental emergency, you should still seek urgent dental attention in case of heavy bleeding and continuous pain. It is advisable to immediately inform the dentist that your tooth is chipped or broken for faster diagnosis.

For minor chips, the dentist can smoothen the chip to ensure that your bite does not cause more issues. On the other hand, composite materials can be used to fill the cracks in your tooth; the materials are customized to match the other teeth.

If you have severe pain or excessive bleeding, you should use warm water to rinse your mouth to stop the bleeding. If there are any swellings, apply an ice pack against your cheek. Then, contact an emergency dentist for prompt attention; this will avoid the chances of experiencing a complete tooth knock-out or irreversible tooth damage. 

Damaged Dental Work: With the current technology in the dental field, there are various dental treatments that can be done. Some of these are dental implants, root canals, and tooth fillings. In case you have any of these dental repairs and they happen to fail, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as you can. Ignoring such cases could end up causing more damage or damage to other parts of your teeth and gums.

A Knocked-Out Tooth: Similar to a cracked or broken tooth, a knocked-out tooth could cause severe pain, bleeding, and discomfort. Urgent dental attention will help to replace your injured tooth. But before visiting the dentist, follow these steps:

  • Pick the tooth by holding it by the crown and not by the root. In case of an accident, ensure that you locate your tooth immediately and avoid damaging the sensitive roots;
  • Use water to rinse the tooth. This step applies if your tooth has dirt on it. Avoid using any chemicals to treat the fallen tooth such as soap to clean the tooth. Also, avoid scrubbing or drying the tooth;
  • Try to reposition the tooth in its socket using your finger. In case you are unable to position the tooth at its’ respective socket, put it in a glass of milk and visit your doctor immediately;
  • It is important to avoid drying the tooth but keep it moist instead. Also, tap water is not the best solution for keeping your tooth moist; rather, place the tooth in your mouth, milk, or a tooth preservation kit.

The above steps should be done quickly to allow you to see a dentist within 30 minutes from the injury time. Dentists advise on the need to get dental attention within 30 minutes of the injury; however, a tooth can be saved for even after an hour after falling out. Notwithstanding, the latter situation should only occur when you cannot access an emergency dentist within thirty minutes. The success of saving the knocked-out tooth depends on the quick response of the patient.

Dental Abscess: Just like other body parts, your mouth is prone to have an infection because it comes in contact with bacteria often. The most affected areas are the gum and teeth, and a dental abscess is a common dental emergency that affects these areas. A dental abscess is a collection of pus in the gums or inside the teeth.

A dental abscess occurs in three forms depending on the affected area: (a) gingival abscess which only affects the gum tissue but not the periodontal ligaments or the teeth; (b) periodontal abscess which affects the tissues that support the tooth; (c) periapical abscess which primarily affects the pulp.

All the above types of abscess are characterized by symptoms such as insomnia, swallowing difficulties, fever, pain while biting, sensitivity to hot and cold liquids or foods, and a foul taste in the mouth.

Although a family doctor might help you if you have a dental abscess, visiting an emergency dentist is paramount. Since any infections in the mouth also affect other areas of your teeth and gums. Qualified dentists will be able to diagnose your condition and treat it while a doctor would prescribe medication for a dental abscess. Treatment for abscess entails draining the pus from the abscess after making an incision. Anesthesia is used during the incision.

Treatment for a periapical abscess needs surgery in order to drill the tooth and remove the abscess. A qualified dentist will be able to administer this surgery, usually known as root canal replacement. The tooth will be removed and a replacement made if an abscess keeps occurring.

Other Issues That May Lead to Dental Emergencies

Jaw Fracture and Dislocation: Despite being one of the least noticed parts of your body, your jaw helps you to drink, chew, and make facial expressions. Pain on the jaw can be debilitating and frustrating making it impossible to ignore. Jaw pain is a condition that affects many people and can cause pain around the ear, cause headaches, pain when biting, and tenderness to the jaw. By understanding the common causes of jaw pain, you can avoid them and save yourself the grief. Here are three common causes of jaw pain:

  1. Untreated Cavity – Often, cavity patients assume that the cavity only affects the tooth. However, if not treated, the cavities can eventually trigger jaw pain, especially when the infection at the tooth root spread to the bone tissues. Having regular visits to a dentist will help avoid undetected and untreated teeth cavities;
  2. Impacted Wisdom Teeth – Ideally, wisdom teeth grow between the ages of 17 and 25 years. If the wisdom teeth are partially or fully impacted, it is possible for the wisdom teeth to cause problems in the jaw thus causing the pain. When impacted wisdom teeth cause jaw pain, dentists can perform a dental X-ray to find the root of the problem and later, perform dental surgery to help relieve the pain;
  3. A Bad Bite – When you have a malocclusion, your jaw moves unnaturally every time you chew or speak. When this continuously happens, it could cause wear or tear to the jaws’ joints thus causing pain. This is a condition that can be treated through the use of braces, but surgery is recommended in extreme conditions.

A dislocation or fractured jaw should be considered as a serious dental emergency since the jaw is closely related to your teeth. Without sudden attention, it is possible to develop other serious complications in your teeth. Additionally, fractures and dislocation of the jaw can cause tremendous pain to the patient. It is also advisable to avoid trying DIY methods to resolve the issue. Only a dentist or an oral doctor has the experience and expertise to determine the root cause of the pain. It is possible that some of the treatment methods you employ on the jaw or dental issue could end up causing more harm than good.

While awaiting dental attention, it is advisable to stabilize your lower jawbone and keep the airway open by supporting the jawbone. Treatment for a broken or fractured jaw is dependent on the severity of the injury: displaced breaks or multiple jawbone fractures may require surgery while the jawbone may be immobilized and clean breaks may be allowed to heal independently.  For a dislocated jaw, the doctor will reposition the jaw into its natural position; deploying muscle relaxants and local anesthetics will help in minimizing the pain allowing relaxation of the jaw muscles for quicker treatment.

If the breaks are so severe, a wiring of the jaw is unavoidable. Furthermore, elastic bands are used to supplement the effectiveness of the wires. Note that you can loosen the wires whenever you experience choking or vomiting, and it is essential to keep wire cutters in your home for cutting the wires. Also, a pair of scissors can help you to pry and cut the wires if you do not possess a wire cutter. However, this should be your last resort, it is always best to see your doctor whenever your wires need to be cut or replaced. Since recovering from a jaw dislocation or fracture takes time and can be painful, your doctor will prescribe painkillers to reduce pain and provide antibiotics to avoid secondary infections.  Jaw problems are closely related to emergency dentistry since jaw issues may lead to emergency dental issues as well. 

Bitten Tongue or Lip and a Cut inside the Mouth: A severely bitten tongue or lip is one of the most painful experiences one can endure.  It could also lead to a lot of bleeding. In some cases, this condition may require sudden medical attention. Similarly, soft tissue laceration which is commonly known as a mouth cut is a serious condition that ought to be handled quickly – the tissues inside the mouth are delicate and highly affected in case of a cut. If the cut or laceration is in the gum then it is important to seek out an emergency dentist since it can cause many issues with the surrounding teeth.  However, if the cut is elsewhere then it is advisable to go to a hospital instead.  Still, a follow up with an emergency doctor is necessary in order to ensure that your teeth and gums were not damaged.

You should observe these tips to minimize bleeding, pain, and infection in the mouth:

  • Assess the area and locate debris. Clean the wound using a gauze. If debris is stuck in the wound, seek immediate medical care;
  • Use cold water to rinse your mouth or lips. Using saltwater would apply if you have a cut inside your mouth. A solution of hydrogen peroxide and water can be used for adult patients but children should not use the compound because of the risk of swallowing;
  • Control the bleeding using a clean towel or a piece of gauze. Then, use a cold compress such as an ice pack after the bleeding stops; this helps to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding persists, head to a medical center for emergency care;
  • For cuts inside your mouth, holding ice cubes inside the mouth or using a popsicle will help in keeping the area cold;
  • As the wound heals, avoid too much salty or acidic foods as they can lead to stinging. Additionally, rinse your mouth with water after every meal to neutralize any acidic condition;
  • Regular inspection is necessary to ascertain the healing condition. Inspecting the wound helps to identify any sign of infection. If the area is infected and the condition is getting worse, seek urgent medical care.

How to Prepare for Dental Emergencies When Traveling

Ideally, no one wants to be affected by sudden dental emergencies. In as much as you may try your best to avoid such emergencies, there is no denying that staying prepared for a dental emergency will save you from wasting time and experiencing further damages. Still, most people do not take proactive measures to prevent dental emergencies.

Traveling abroad can be a trip of a lifetime. It can also be a nightmare if you have a dental emergency while traveling. This can be an unfortunate adventure for you, especially when the dentists in the country you are in are not covered by insurance, or are limited in number. Fortunately, there are easy preparations that can help you alleviate some dental emergencies.

Schedule a Checkup Before You Leave: If you have bad teeth or recently felt discomfort in your teeth, it is advisable to visit your dentist. However, do not leave this task for the final minute of your departure. Your dentist will not have enough time to treat you if there is a dental issue. Though this may feel like a burden, you will be grateful after having a dental emergency free vacation.

Research the Dental Care Services Available at Your Destination: Practices and standards may vary between different countries. Things will be easier for you if you familiarize yourself with the dental practices and services available before you travel. Additionally, get reputable dentists offering services at reasonable prices. This will help you have an idea of where to get medical attention in case of a dental emergency.

If you don’t have information beforehand on the emergency dentists available in the country you are traveling to, you can contact the US Embassy or Consulate in that country and ask for a referral to the closest dentist. You can also call your travel insurance provider to seek recommendations on a nearby emergency dentist.

Know What to Bring: As you pack, there are items recommended by experts that could help prepare for a dental emergency. For instance, clove oil is a natural pain reliever that you could consider applying directly to the sore tooth. Additionally, dental wax can reduce pain caused by a bent or broken orthodontic wire. Additionally, make sure that you have your dentist’s contact information just in case of an urgent dental issue that occurs during your trip.

Since it is almost impossible to evade all the dental emergencies, it is important to carry a dental emergency kit when traveling.

Maintain your Dental Care Routine: Most people forego some of the daily dental care routines due to the change in schedules, and location of travel. It is not advisable to forget your daily dental routine during such times. Ensure that you clean your mouth as often as you do while at home. This will help in maintaining your dental health by alleviating dental problems that are associated with poor dental hygiene.

Additionally, it is essential to be careful about your diet overseas; for instance, you should avoid hard foreign foods that you have not been exposed to so that you don’t risk causing a crack in your tooth. It is also important to avoid acidic beverages such as coffee if you have tooth sensitivity problems.

Find an Emergency Dentist Near Me

Proper treatment and taking preventative measures are the key to resolving most dental emergencies. If you have any dental emergency in Los Angeles, CA, Washington Dental is ready to diagnose and treat your dental problem. We have advanced dental equipment, expertise, and experience to handle any dental emergencies. Call our Downtown Los Angeles Dentist 213-765-0004 to speak to an emergency dentist today and let us help you maintain excellent dental health.