Sudden and severe toothaches can occur unexpectedly and can quickly become unbearable. You need immediate attention in order to get treatment for such dental emergencies as severe oral pain. Washington Dental offers a free exam and digital x-rays for all patients so that we can attend to such emergencies. We have experienced emergency dentists that will accommodate any urgent appointment and alleviate your dental pain immediately. We offer same day dental appointments and can help you right away.

Reasons for Visiting an Emergency Dentist

Dental pain can be frustrating since it can emanate beyond the affected tooth and can linger if not treated. Dentists examine and determine the actual cause of the pain in order to find the treatment area. Emergency dentists will keep you comfortable by easing the pain and injury. Additionally, these specialists are quick to attend to any dental emergency. Intense pain that requires an emergency dentist can be caused by the presence of cavities on the tooth, which quickly grow into more massive cavities that can lead to a root canal. It is also possible that gum disease can cause receding of the gums which in return, exposes the root of the tooth to infections and sensitivity.

Immediate dental care is vital in case of:

  • Oral bleeding, which does not stop;
  • Infections or a fallen tooth;
  • An accident that causes injuries to your face, specifically the mouth;
  • Swollen face or gums;
  • Severe oral pain.

Preparation for a Dental Emergency

Dental emergencies are sudden – they happen unexpectedly. It is wise to prepare for such emergencies and avoid panicking. Having a first aid kit with a container, contact details of the dentist, and painkillers such as acetaminophen (do not use aspirin because they are blood thinners and can lead to more bleeding) will help you to prepare for a dental emergency. Remember to carry a handkerchief or tissue paper with you on your way to the dentist to prevent blood loss.

Dental Issues Requiring an Emergency Dentist

Tooth Pain

A tooth will ache when its’ nerve is irritated. A tooth decaying, gum infection, injury, or loss of a tooth can cause tooth pain. When the tooth pulp is inflamed as a result of dental cavities or infections, it can cause pain. This pain travels through the nerve and is felt throughout the jaw. Some effects of tooth pain are swelling of the gums or face, visible discharge on the tooth, and fever. Visiting a dentist can help in identifying the cause of the pain and the appropriate dental treatment.

Painkillers can help to relieve the pain. However, if the pain persists, it is critical to check in immediately with a dentist in order to diagnose the cause of the issue. Treatment for tooth pain ranges from a dental filling to the extraction of the tooth, and other treatment procedures. For primary teeth, extraction is advisable. For permanent teeth, teeth extractions require a root canal or crowning procedures. A tooth removal might be necessary to ease the pain, but still, the patient will experience severe pain after some days. This is due to alveolar osteitis which involves blood clots dropping and exposing the bone. If the pain persists after a tooth removal, seeking emergency dental care is crucial.

If the pain is associated with jaw swelling and fever, procedures to relieve pain will be done immediately as the patient awaits other procedures to reconstruct the tooth. This will enable them to carry on with their daily activities as they recover. If the pain stops emanating from the jaw or teeth, proper teeth management techniques and routine care are essential: clean the teeth to free them of food particles; for healthy gums, brush the teeth and the gum (after eating) using a soft toothbrush and fluoride paste; daily flossing is good for trapped particle removal; antiseptic mouthwash helps in eradicating plaque and gum disease-causing bacteria.

Another step in preventing dental emergencies is to let a dental hygienist clean your mouth every six months. This prevents decay and diseases in the gum. A routine five-year dental X-ray should be done to check for any dental problems as well. If applicable, bridges and dentures should be thoroughly kept clean as well.

Tooth Knockout

If a permanent tooth falls out or gets knocked out, an urgent check-in with a dentist is vital. Tooth knockout is a common incident in both children and adults. But don’t be wary because proper immediate action can help to save the tooth. These are steps to follow between the time the tooth falls out and visiting an emergency dentist:

  • When the tooth falls outs, immediately locate and pick it up carefully – pick it up by the crown and not the root;
  • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it under water. Chemicals or soap should be avoided. More so, drying, scraping, or wrapping the fallen tooth with a tissue or a piece of cloth is not advisable;
  • If possible, immediately try repositioning the fallen tooth into the socket. Using fingers, tenderly push in the teeth while holding the crown. Alternatively, put the tooth on the socket and bite it gently while you keep the mouth closed;
  • Ensure the tooth remains moisturized. This can be in the mouth in case it was successfully repositioned, putting it in milk, inside the mouth near the cheek, or a preservation kit for an emergency tooth loss;
  • Within thirty minutes, check in with an emergency dentist with the fallen tooth. Note that the tooth can be preserved for more than an hour out of the mouth but it is recommended to see an emergency dentist within 30 mins.

If a baby's tooth falls, don’t put it back to the socket. This is because, the tooth will fuse with the socket, generating problems for your permanent teeth below. It can lead to permanent tooth damages below the socket.

In addition, a tooth can be loose or improperly aligned. Immediately schedule an appointment with an emergency dentist. You can try to put the tooth back in position by lightly pressing it into the right socket with your fingers or a gentle bite. Bite the tooth so that it doesn’t move till you reach to the dentist. Tooth splinting onto the other teeth stabilizes the loose teeth.

Dental Swelling

Tooth swelling can be as a result of an infection by bacteria. Getting a diagnosis and treatment from a dentist is helpful especially if the face is swollen. Further spread of the bacterial infection can lead to health issues such as the inability to swallow or breathe. In such cases, emergency dentistry is a must. Various dental conditions can facilitate dental swelling. They include;

  • Tooth Abscess. Severe tooth root decay can lead to dental swelling. The decay generates a pocket of pus known as a tooth abscess. This condition is excruciating and associated with having a fever, foul breath as well as the swelling of your glands;
  • Irritation of wisdom teeth. Swelling of the gum occurs during the sprouting of the wisdom teeth. Dentists recommend that the teeth be removed to ease the pain. After they have been removed, a slight swelling might be noticed as the area heals. Rinsing the mouth using salty and warm water helps in fighting bacteria and keeping the swelling down. The use of ice packs also relieves the pain;
  • This irritates the gums causing bleeding during brushing and/or flossing. Immediate treatment helps in preventing further effects;
  • Deficiency of vitamin C causes swelling of the gum and the tongue. Eating fruits and supplements of vitamin C can be useful.

A Dental Abscess

If a person doesn't undergo treatment in the case of an infected tooth, a dental abscess is likely to develop. An abscess is an infection of the tooth that has a high degree of pain in the jawbone. An abscess can lead to the formation of pus in the tooth and gum. This is as a result of an infection caused by bacteria which is deposited in the pulp cavity of a tooth. Food remains, saliva, as well as mouth bacteria can get stuck onto the teeth causing damages. Lack of regular or improper cleaning can lead to the spread of the bacteria into the tooth’s soft tissues. 

Pain is a significant symptom of an abscess. The area that is affected becomes painful when chewing or biting anything. The pain throbs intensively radiating from the jawbone to the ear and the whole neck area. The tooth becomes more sensitive to foods and drinks that are cold or hot. A bad taste in the mouth, problems in swallowing or attempting to open your mouth, fever, and general illness are also common symptoms of an abscess.

Abscesses occur in various types. Each type shows how severe the symptoms might be as well as where the signs are located:

  1. Gingival abscess which accumulates in gum tissues but it does not affect the tooth or the periodontal ligament;
  2. A periodontal abscess occurs due to the presence of bacteria that causes infection in the gums. The periodontitis causes gum inflammation separating the surrounding tooth root tissues from the root base. The periodontal ligament separation leads to periodontal gapping or pocketing. The gap is prone to collect dirt and debris, therefore, makes it hard during cleaning to reach these areas. Bacteria continuously gets deposited into the holes and accumulate forming a periodontal abscess

It is possible to get a periodontal abscess from accidental dental procedures that bring about periodontal pockets. A patient with Periodontitis that have not been treated should not use antibiotics because they may hide abscess symptoms resulting in a periodontal abscess;

  1. A periapical abscess occurs in the pulp cavity. Tooth decay forms tiny holes on the tooth which encourages the entry of bacteria. Cavities form a hard layer on the top part of the tooth. Due to continuous decay, caries degenerates into the dentine (soft tissues below the enamel), penetrating and infecting the tooth pulp causing pulpitis. The spread of pulpitis helps the bacteria travel to the alveolar bone that offers support to the tooth, hence resulting in periapical abscess.

In case of any of the above symptoms caused by a dental abscess, an emergency dentist is needed. Medication would be prescribed. A self-care advice is offered and how to manage pain before the emergency treatment is scheduled. For Gingival abscess, after local anesthesia is administered, the abscess is cut out and the pus containing bacteria is drained. A periapical abscess is treated by treating the root canal. A hole is drilled into the tooth root, and the bacterial discharge is drained. Damaged tissues in the pulp should be removed. The space in the root is filled to prevent future infections.

When treating a periodontal abscess, the abscess is drained and the periodontal pockets are cleaned. Scaling and planning under the gum line is critical to smoothen tooth root surfaces. In turn, this procedure is useful in tooth healing and prevents infections.

Painkillers will assist in the reduction of pain as a patient waits for treatment. Remember that the painkillers do not mean that a visit to the dentist is not necessary. Antibiotics should be taken along with painkillers because they aid in preventing the spread of infections. The commonly used antibiotics are amoxicillin and metronidazole.

Abscess treatment is associated with complications such as:

  • Dental cysts which develop as a result of an untreated abscess forming a cavity filled with fluid under the tooth root. It is risky if the cyst gets infected. Therefore, if it happens, one needs to use antibiotics or schedule for surgery;

  • Osteomyelitis happens when abscess enters the bloodstream infecting the bone. The bone affected becomes painful, the patient feels nausea, and the body temperature seemingly rises. The bone affected is always close to the site affected by the abscess but because the spread in the bloodstream, no bone is an exception to the infection. Oral and intravenous antibiotics can be used for treatment;

  • Cavernous thrombosis. When a bacterium spreads, blood clotting occurs around the cavernous sinus, which is a major vein under the brain. Surgery is done to drain the abscess because it is a fatal condition.

Broken tooth

A tooth can be cracked and eventually break off during activities such as sports, accidents, chewing hard foods, or aging. Emergency cosmetic dentistry can be useful in correcting such issues. Various treatments can be used in restoring the crack. Dental veneers or dental crowns are commonly used in tooth restoration and functioning. The various types of broken teeth are:

  • Craze lines. They are small cracks and found on the teeth enamel (sturdy outer cover). They are not painful therefore doesn’t necessarily require emergency treatment;
  • Fractured cusp. This involves cracking at the dental filling. They don't affect the tooth pulp cavity; therefore, the pain caused is not severe;
  • Gum line cracks. These are vertical cracks extending through the tooth-gum line. Such a condition needs an extraction. An emergency treatment can save the tooth from falling out;
  • Split tooth. A cracked tooth that is divided into two parts and the crack running from the tooth surface to its gum line is called a split tooth. Such a crack is extensive and makes it hard for the tooth to be saved. Fortunately, emergency dentists can save one part of the crack.

There are common symptoms of a cracked tooth. If a person experiences pain when they chew or bite, if they have a sensitivity to heat or cold, or the area around the affected tooth swells, there may be a high chance that they have a broken tooth. A tooth that is cracked can’t be diagnosed using X-rays. Visual examination by the use of a magnifying lens to observe tiny cracks, feeling the crack using dental exploratory tools to find the edge, use of a dental dye, and probing the gums for inflammation are some of the applicable ways of diagnosing cracked teeth.

Treating the crack considers such factors as; how big or small the crack might be, its location, the symptoms, and how deep it extends to the gum line. The following treatments are applicable while keeping the above factors in mind:

  1. Plastic resins are used in filling the crack. The look and function of the tooth are restored after bonding;
  2. Dental crowns are prosthetic devices composing of porcelain and ceramic. It caps the damaged tooth. Dental crowns are common and are used to fuse onto metal dental implants or the remaining tooth. Each crown is beneficial in its way. For instance, metal crowns have strength while the porcelain crowns are aesthetically pleasing. Fusing the porcelain and the metals together can add strength and aesthetic value.

Fitting a crown involves shading off a little enamel to create space for the crown. Tooth impressions are designed, a matching color picked, and the dental lab designs the tooth. After some weeks, the crown is returned, and the dentist does the fitting and cementing of the tooth crack;

  1. Root canal. An operation on the root canal can help in saving the natural tooth in case of decay. The pulp cavity of the tooth that is infected is removed and cleaned. A plant material known as gutta percha fills the hollow tooth and the crown is cemented on top. The tooth will be firm and functional after the above procedures;
  2. Severe damage of the structure, nerves and the roots require the tooth to be extracted;
  3. No treatment. If the cracks are tiny and don’t affect the appearance of the tooth or cause any pain, leaving the tooth untouched is possible.

In a nutshell, it is prudent to check in with a dentist for a healthy, strong and decay-free teeth. Remember to wear mouth guards when playing sports or participating in other harsh activities. Avoid chewing ice or other hard foods to avoid tooth breakages.

Finding an Emergency Dentist Near Me

Is your tooth damaged or in pain? At Washington Dental, we do our best to comfort and free you from pain and injury. We understand that dental emergencies aren’t planned for, that’s why we are available for patients throughout the Lomita, CA area. Call our Lomita Dentist at 310-326-5183 for an emergency appointment and quick treatment from an emergency dentist.