There are numerous patients throughout California who have to seek services for emergency dental work every day. A dental emergency can happen for some of the most unexpected reasons and at any time of the day. Experiencing a dental crisis means you need relief as soon as possible as oral pain is one of the worst.

Washington Dental is an emergency dental clinic with multiple locations throughout Los Angeles, Lomita, Torrance, and Carson, CA where you can find emergency dental or general dentistry if you are in pain from a toothache or experiencing a major dental emergency. We offer emergency dental services and will do our best to get you treated as quickly as possible.

Why Seek Emergency Dentistry?

Just as your arms and legs are vital parts of your body, your teeth are just as important. Just as you would need to seek medical attention if you break your arm or leg, you need to find emergency dentistry if you break a tooth. Some dental injuries should have immediate treatment, or you could face substantial complications.

According to the American Dental Association, sports is the number one reason most adults require emergency dentistry. All types of sports with all kinds of athletes create more emergency dental appointments than any other cause. These activities include professional sports to the backyard game of throwing baskets. Having a tooth knocked out while playing some form of sports isn’t restricted to adults as children are just as prone to lose a tooth while playing games as their parents.

Vehicle accidents are right behind sports when it comes to reasons people seek emergency dentistry. Your teeth have a layer of enamel on them designed as protection; however, this can’t protect them when they collide with a steering wheel.

When To Seek Out Emergency Dental Services

Not all dental issues are considered emergencies and most issues can be resolved by scheduling an appointment with the dentist. In the following sections, we will cover the most common problems that require emergency dental services.

Knocked out Tooth/Teeth

No matter how your tooth is knocked out, whether from playing sports or being involved in a vehicular accident, it qualifies as emergency dentistry.  Wherever you are; home or traveling, if one of your teeth are knocked out, seeing a dentist within thirty minutes could mean the difference between losing or saving your tooth.

Having a tooth knocked out requires urgent attention. If you follow these appropriate emergency steps, you may be able to save your tooth:

  • Pick up the tooth by its top, not by the roots.
  • Rinse the tooth gently, so it is clean, but do not scrub or remove any tissue that is attached to the tooth. It is a good idea to place a towel over the drain in case you drop the tooth. You don’t want your tooth getting washed down the drain.
  • Take the tooth carefully from the top and try to slip it back into the socket. Hold it in place gently, but do not bite down on it.
  • If you cannot get the tooth into the socket, place it into a small container with milk.
  • Contact Washington Dental immediately as it is critical for a dentist to treat you as soon as possible. The longer you put off a re-plant, the less chance you have of the tooth ‘taking’ and remaining a viable tooth.

Sudden Toothaches

Another reason for a patient to seek emergency dentistry is the severe and sudden toothache. Your tooth may have started with a little cavity, but as it grew it becomes large and could require a root canal. If it has reached this stage, it will be causing you unbearable pain that can come on suddenly. This form of pain will not only make you feel physically ill; it will hinder your ability to eat or drink. Washington Dental can repair a cavity and restore your ability to function once again.

A cavity is a form of infection, and when it reaches a certain point, it will affect more than just your tooth. An infection is considered a severe medical condition and will spread quickly to other parts of your body such as your liver and brain. This quick spread is a good reason for you to seek emergency dentistry to prevent more serious health risks.

Broken or Cracked Teeth

A break or severe crack in your tooth is also considered an emergency dental issue. If a tooth is cracked or broken, the nerves inside the tooth become exposed. A crack or break can happen suddenly from simple events such as chewing on hard foods or candies or from trauma during an accident. When the nerves become exposed, they are at risk for bacteria forming from the foods you eat. Damaging the nerves in your tooth is very painful and will affect your day-to-day activities. Washington Dental will be your best solution to care for this situation.

What to do if you crack or fracture a tooth?

Cracked or fractured teeth are serious, and it indicates you could have damaged the inside of your tooth as well as the outside. Follow these appropriate steps after you’ve contacted an emergency dentistry service:

  • Gently clean your mouth by rinsing it thoroughly with warm water
  • If you have cracked or fractured a tooth that has been caused by trauma to your face, reduce the swelling and pain by placing an ice pack over the injured area
  • Taking acetaminophen to reduce your discomfort is acceptable, but do not take aspirin
  • Do not put any form of painkiller over the gum of the fractured tooth as it can burn your gum tissue

When you arrive at the emergency dentistry service, an x-ray will be necessary for the dentist to accurately diagnose the condition of the tooth and the possible solutions for repairing it. Cracked teeth most commonly occur in the back of the mouth as this is the area where most of your chewing is done.

A cracked tooth is classified as a ‘Cracked Tooth Syndrome’ and typically requires invasive treatment. If the crack goes beyond the surface of your tooth, a root canal may be needed, followed by a crown.

The severity of the crack will determine the treatment. A less severe case will need restoration of the damaged area and a dental crown. If the dentist feels the crack is a moderate case because the crack has gone deeper into your tooth, it may require a root canal with a crown placed over the tooth. The most severe case of a cracked tooth, where the crack extends deep into your tooth, will more than likely require an extraction. The extraction is always the last resort, and if needed, the dentist will discuss a dental implant with you to replace the lost tooth.

Dislodged Tooth

A tooth that has become dislodged is generally the result of some form of trauma. When a tooth becomes avulsed, extruded, luxated, or dislodged, it has been pushed up into its socket or out of its socket. This push had to occur through some sort of force such as a fall or other serious accident. This form of damage to your tooth needs emergency dentistry services as soon as possible.

It can be possible to save your tooth if it has become dislodged from its socket. When you arrive at Washington Dental, the dentist will anesthetize and clean the affected area. If the tooth is partially intact, they will reposition and stabilize the tooth. A series of x-rays will be necessary to ensure the root’s nerves and blood vessels have not been damaged or fractured.

It is more than likely; you will need follow-up care with additional x-rays as the initial ones following the trauma may not be accurate in showing full damage. If these follow-up tests show there has been damage to the nerves, blood vessels, or root, you may need to schedule a root canal treatment. This treatment will prevent your tooth from becoming discolored, or even worse develop an abscess or severe infection.

Abscessed Tooth

If your tooth has become abscessed, it is infected. Any form of infection in your mouth is an emergency dentistry issue. You will be experiencing a lot of pain from an abscessed tooth which is why you will need relief quickly by Washington Dental. If you do not treat this infection right away, it could lead to damaging your jaw bone and spread into your neck and head. Do not put off addressing an abscessed tooth as if gone untreated can lead to a deadly brain abscess.

The goal of treating an abscessed tooth is to get rid of the infection. The dentist will have to make a small cut into the abscess, so the pus is able to drain out. They will need to rinse the area with salt water or saline. Depending on the amount of buildup you have of the infection, you may need a rubber drain put into place to keep the area draining until your swelling goes down.

To save your tooth, it may be necessary to perform a root canal. The dentist will drill down into the tooth to remove all of the diseased tissue or pulp and remove the abscess. When the area is cleaned out, the tooth will then be filled and sealed. You may require a crown over this tooth to ensure it remains strong.

If the abscess is due to an affected tooth that is not savable, the dentist will need to pull it out. By performing an extraction of the infected tooth, it is then possible to drain the abscess and remove the infection.

If the infection is limited to the abscessed tooth which is removed or treated, you shouldn’t need antibiotics. If; however, the infection has spread to other teeth in your mouth, your jaw, or other areas, you will more than likely be prescribed antibiotics to stop the spread of the infection.

Tissue Damage or Facial Pain

Damage to the inside of your mouth is considered an emergency dentistry issue. These soft tissues of your mouth including your cheek lining, tongue, or gums can be injured by scalding liquids, sports injuries, accidental bites and other traumatic events. If you’ve punctured the inside of your mouth, torn your lip, cheek, or tongue, contact Washington Dental immediately.

These forms of injuries typically cause excessive bleeding,

What to do if you experience an injury to the inside of your mouth

  • Clean the area of injury in your mouth gently with warm water
  • If you are bleeding under your tongue, gently pull your tongue forward and apply slight pressure to the wound with gauze
  • If you cannot receive emergency dentistry service immediately, you should report to a medical emergency room
  • If you are experiencing facial pain from the trauma, take acetaminophen, not aspirin or ibuprofen for a dental emergency as they are anticoagulants and can cause excessive bleeding

Objects Lodged Between Teeth

There are times; foreign objects can become lodged in between your teeth and gums. Most people imagine dental emergencies are only related to your teeth but to have an object stuck in your gums can irritate and quickly lead to infection of both your gums and teeth.

Popcorn husks are the most common food product that becomes lodged in your teeth, but other items can as well — wood splinters from toothpicks and even pieces of your fingernails. Having anything stuck between your teeth or stuck in your gums can cause problems.

If an object or food item becomes lodged between two of your teeth, you should attempt to dislodge it gently by using dental floss. If flossing does not help to remove it, you should contact Washington Dental. Having something lodged between your teeth will apply pressure to them and if left in place to long, shift the position of these teeth. You could also risk the development of infection with a foreign particle being in contact with your gums for too long of a time.

Oral Infection

If you develop an oral infection, it is considered a dental emergency. Swelling around your jaw or under your mouth which affect your breathing or swallowing can be serious and a sign of Ludwig’s Angina. This infection develops in the floor of your mouth, under the tongue, and requires emergency dental care, so the bacteria from the infection doesn’t travel from your oval cavity to the tissues of your heart.

Other oral infections can cause incredible pain. This form of pain will interfere with your sleeping and eating and should be treated by an emergency dental service as soon as possible. An abscess in your gums will not completely heal on its own. Washington Dental will need to get you on a treatment plan as quickly as possible.

The treatment plan will include removing the abscess and debris in your periodontal pocket. The dentist may even have to perform a deep cleaning procedure called scaling and planning. This procedure will remove the plaque and tartar from below and on top of your gum line.

An x-ray may be needed to check if your gum abscess has resulted in any loss of bone material in your jaw. Depending on the results of the x-ray, the dentist will either have to extract a tooth or may be able to recommend a procedure to regenerate gum tissue and lost bone.

If the infection has affected the pulp, or the center of a tooth, which is where the nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels reside, the dentist may have to remove the damaged portions. The pulp is removed through a process called a root canal that will remove the damaged part of your tooth.

Lost Filling or Crown

Some don’t think losing a filling or crown constitutes an emergency dental appointment. The fact is what happens when you lose a filling is you now have an area of your tooth or gums exposed to air and pressure. The tissue that is now exposed will become hypersensitive to the environment and can cause you tremendous pain.

Contact Washington Dental right away if you lose a filling or crown to get a seal to the exposed area. Emergency dental services are critical after losing a crown as your teeth will begin shifting as soon as this piece of your dental work is not in place.

The crown you’ve lost is a covering or ‘cap’ put in place over a tooth that has been restored. It is placed over what is remaining of a damaged tooth. When the crown comes off, what is left underneath is no longer as strong as your other teeth. A crown needs to be on your damaged tooth, as soon as possible, or you risk losing more of that tooth and possibly not being able to crown it any longer.

A crown takes two dental appointments to complete its placement. As an emergency appointment, the dentist will have to determine why the original crown fell off. Has the issue it fell off due to the decay on the remaining natural tooth enlarged in which case it will be necessary to reshape the tooth by removing the decay.

The dentist will prepare your tooth, remove any new decay, and build up the core of the tooth. Then an impression is needed to create an exact model for the replacement crown. While your new crown is being prepared, you will be given a temporary crown to protect your remaining tooth and gums and keep your other teeth in place.

While you have the temporary crown, you can expect to be sensitive to hot or cold foods and beverages. You should avoid chewing gum and eating sticky foods while you wait for your new crown. When it is complete, Washington Dental will place it in your mouth and make sure the fit is right for a comfortable bite.

When You Need Emergency Dentistry

Any dental issue you experience that needs immediate treatment to save a tooth stop excessive bleeding or alleviate severe pain is a time when you should seek emergency dentistry.  When you suffer a severe infection or abscess in your mouth, it can become life-threatening, and you need emergency dentistry services immediately.

Typically smoothing a chipped tooth or reattaching a crown that is not giving you severe pain are not considered emergency dentistry. These types of issues can be handled during regular dental office hours. If you are not sure if what you are experiencing qualifies for an emergency, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my mouth bleeding excessively, where I cannot stop the bleeding on my own?
  • Is the pain I have considered severe?
  • Are any of my teeth loose?
  • Have I been hit in the mouth or face?
  • Is there any swelling in my facial area or mouth?
  • Are there any knots, bulges, or swelling on my gums?

Answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions is a good indication you are in need of emergency dental work. When contacting Washington Dental, you must describe exactly what has happened, and how you are feeling.

How to Prepare for Emergency Dentistry

Emergencies of any type can occur anywhere and anytime. Be prepared for a dental emergency and don’t panic. Keep a small dental first aid kit in your vehicle and your home with the following items:

  • Name and phone number of an emergency dentistry clinic near you
  • A small container with a cover
  • Acetaminophen (not ibuprofen or aspirin)
  • Handkerchief or clean rags
  • Medical gauze

Knowing who to call right away, having the materials on hand to perform preliminary first aid, and not panicking could mean the difference between saving a tooth or losing it. Being prepared and knowing how to handle emergencies could also prevent future serious consequences from happening to your oral health.

Where to Find an Emergency Dentistry Clinic Near Me?

When a dental emergency happens, call Washington Dental immediately. We can help you through any emergency dental situation to ensure the safety of your teeth and help you maintain good oral health. We can also answer any of your dental questions and schedule an appointment in any of our locations in Los Angeles, Carson, Lomita, and Torrance if you have any dental issues that need attention.