Some dental issues cannot wait for your scheduled dental checkups, treatments, or procedures. You require an emergency dentist when you find yourself in extreme pain that hinders you from going about your day. This type of service also comes in handy during accidents that cause excessive bleeding, a displaced tooth, or trouble chewing. At The Whittier Dentist, we understand that unplanned clinic visits are inevitable. We have a skilled and compassionate team of specialists that can provide the much-needed help when you require urgent dental care and attention.
Getting an emergency dentist appointment is easy. Once you have established that your problem cannot wait, call our office immediately. We will evaluate your situation, and if it qualifies as an emergency, we will provide treatment as soon as possible in less than 24 hours. We always have a few slots available for potential emergency appointments and can also schedule treatment outside the usual office hours of our practice.
Dental Emergency Defined
Not all dental concerns constitute dental emergencies. Some problems do not necessitate urgent dental care unless they cause debilitating pain, discomfort, or the possibility of infection. Your situation is a dental emergency only when it requires treatment sooner than usual. Generally, such concerns are unplanned and hinder you from conducting your regular routines.
Common Dental Emergencies and How to Manage Them
Preventative care like maintaining excellent dental hygiene and seeking dental checkups at least twice each year can only prevent some types of dental emergencies. There are concerns like a chipped tooth or dental trauma that occur unexpectedly. Seeking urgent treatment can help prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums, lips, jaw, and overall smile.
Here are some of the most common dental emergencies and how to manage them before your treatment appointment:
Tooth decay is notorious for causing toothaches. While some aches are manageable using over-the-counter painkillers, others require immediate treatment. For instance, you should see your dentist immediately if a throbbing toothache is accompanied by other symptoms like facial swelling and pain that radiates to the neck, ears, and jawbone.
A throbbing tooth causes excruciating pain that can make a few minutes feel like an entire day. Unfortunately, it is not always guaranteed that you will see the dentist for treatment the instant you set foot in the clinic. It is common to wait for a few minutes or hours for an emergency appointment.
You can ease the pain by swilling your mouth with warm saline water to help disinfect the affected area. Also, use an ice pack or cold compress against the cheek for several minutes at a time.
When you call your dentist to schedule an emergency appointment, make sure you mention your concern in brief. The specialist will provide personalized guidance to help manage your issue better before your treatment session.
Lost Crown or Filling
Restorative dentistry using crowns or fillings help to preserve the functions and appearance of a damaged tooth. However, the materials used during restorative dentistry can break or fall out with time. This leaves a site vulnerable to further damage or infection.
As you wait for your emergency dental care appointment, swill your mouth with a solution of salt and warm water. Take a piece of sugarless gum and stick it into the cavity to protect the pulp from possible infection.
Broken or Loose Braces
Broken metal braces can poke your cheeks and gums and make it impossible to chew or talk. Moreover, they can negatively impact the progress of correcting your dental alignment, making it necessary to seek emergency dentistry.
If you notice broken orthodontics, find the loose wire and push it into a comfortable position. If you still experience discomfort when moving your mouth, apply orthodontic wax on the exposed metal ends. A small piece of gauze or a cotton ball can also do the trick to help protect your cheeks and gums from cuts. Irrespective of how uncomfortable you feel, do not attempt cutting the wire.
Loose Bands and Brackets
Another common concern that calls for emergency dentistry is loose brace bands and brackets. It is crucial to see your dentist immediately to ensure the issue does not affect the progress of realigning your teeth. In the meantime, keep the bands safely because your dentist will repair or replace them during your appointment. You can also reattach the loose braces temporarily using your orthodontic wax.
If you dislocate your jaw during an accident or when playing a contact sport, you should visit an emergency dentist as soon as possible. Apply cold compress on the painful sights to manage the swelling and ease the ache.
Objects Debris Stuck Between the Teeth
Debris can be jammed between the teeth and cause excruciating pain. Before you call your dentist, use flossing tape to try to remove the stuck object. It is best to avoid using sharp objects like needles and toothpicks.
Depending on what is stuck between your teeth, you can remove it successfully using flossing tape. However, you need to visit your dentist if any attempts to remove the object cause extreme pain or heavy bleeding. Remember that leaving debris between your teeth, even for a few days, can lead to oral infections.
A competent dentist can help you save a knocked-out tooth. However, time is of the essence, and you must seek treatment as soon as possible. Immediately after an accident, pick the knocked-out tooth by its crown and rinse out the dirt with running water. Make sure you are gentle to avoid removing healthy tissue fragments.
Try placing the tooth back into the socket if possible. If not, put it in a glass of milk as you wait for your emergency dental appointment. As long as you see your dentist within 24 hours, you have a good chance of saving the tooth.
Chipped or Broken Teeth
A broken or chipped tooth can ruin your smile, cause pain and increase the risk of an oral infection. If an accident causes excessive bleeding, it is imperative to see your dentist immediately.
As you prepare to seek emergency dental care, rinse your mouth with a glass of warm water with a pinch of salt. Use gauze on the affected site to stop the bleeding and apply ice therapy on your face, close to the affected area, to reduce pain and swelling.
A dental abscess is a bacterial infection characterized by a pocket of pus at the tip or side of a tooth’s root. Both periapical and periodontal abscesses cause extreme pain and the possibility of an infection spreading to surrounding teeth or gum tissue.
It is imperative to see your dentist immediately if a dental abscess causes the following symptoms:
- Throbbing toothache
- Facial swelling
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes
- A sudden rush of foul-tasting and smelling fluid in the mouth
- Breathing or swallowing difficulties
As you wait for your emergency dental appointment, it is crucial to maintain optimal oral hygiene. Brush and floss your teeth as usual, although you must avoid aggravating the problem. Use a soft brush instead, and do not floss the area with the abscess. You will also want to avoid hot or cold drinks and food to keep the problem well-managed.
Cuts in the mouth should stop within a few minutes of first aid. Also, the bleeding after tooth extraction should not persist for more than an hour. If you are bleeding non stop because of affected gums or teeth, you should schedule an emergency dentist.
Place gauze on the affected site and press it down with your teeth or hand as you wait for treatment. It is also necessary to avoid eating, drinking, sucking, or spitting.
Not all dental practices offer emergency dentistry. At The Whittier Dentist, we believe that oral aches cannot wait. That is why we make it easy to schedule emergency dentistry treatments and receive reliable solutions.
Common Signs That You require Emergency Dental Care
Arguably, all dental concerns must be addressed with the urgency they deserve. It can be a little challenging to tell the difference between concerns that can wait for regular dental appointments and those that deserve immediate attention.
Apart from excruciating toothaches and profuse bleeding, here are other telltale signs that your concern cannot wait:
Sudden Tooth Loss
Adults can lose their teeth during an accident or because of gum disease. If your tooth falls out, feels loose, or is knocked out, you should call an emergency dentist right away. Acting fast ensures that you have optimal chances of having the tooth replanted.
You Have Swelling
A swollen gum, cheek, or face is never a good sign. Often, this indicates an infection that can be potentially life-threatening if it goes without treatment for long. Bacteria from an abscess, for instance, can enter the bloodstream causing severe health issues. You should check into your emergency dentist’s office or the nearest emergency room immediately if a dental-related swelling is accompanied by other symptoms like fever and breathing trouble.
There Is a Metal Taste in Your Mouth
A metal taste in your mouth is often a sign of a loose filling. It is necessary to have your dental checked to avoid the risk of a restored tooth catching an infection.
It is always safer not to take jaw issues lightly. If your jaw is locked, has a popping sensation, feels stuck, or feels painful, you should schedule an urgent appointment with your dentist. Any movement limitations or trouble chewing should be addressed immediately to prevent a concern from worsening.
If you are unsure whether your concern constitutes a dental emergency, call us for clarity. We are always happy to provide over-the-phone consultation and schedule for same-day appointments. If your issue is not an emergency, we can always plan a regular appointment and offer personalized tips to manage the concern.
What to Expect When You Visit an Emergency Dentist
Irrespective of the nature of your dental concern, there are three procedures you can expect during your emergency appointment. They include:
First, your dentist will do a physical examination of your oral concern. If you know the exact cause of your pain, it is possible to skip the x-ray examinations. However, the dentist must use imaging technology if you are experiencing pain and discomfort in a general area, but there are no physical clues of the actual site of concern.
The specialist will check for signs like inflamed or infected gums during physical examinations. The expert will also check for exposed nerves, damaged crowns, and dental cavities. Sometimes, it is necessary to schedule x-ray exams to understand the source of pain and discomfort in-depth.
Temporary Pain Relief
Most concerns that qualify for emergency dentistry cause excruciating pain. After the physical exams, your dentist will likely provide in-office pain treatment to afford you instant relief.
Fix the Problem
Pain treatment can help mask the concern for a few hours. The dentist must now fix the problem to ensure long-lasting relief from the symptoms of a tooth or gum problem. Treatment can involve prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs or antibiotics, especially if you have an oral infection or a swollen area.
The treatment you will receive will highly depend on the nature of your dental emergency. While competent dentists always try to provide lasting solutions even during emergency appointments, this is not always possible. Sometimes, the best solution is to fix a concern temporarily and buy you time to prepare for more complex treatment.
One of the main reasons dentists often opt for temporary solutions during emergency treatments is that dental pain can cause impaired judgment. Patients are often not in the right mindset to make major decisions about treatment options and the involved costs. It is often safer for the dentist to help with the pain and give the patient a few days to make a well-thought-through decision.
Tips to Avoid a Dental Emergency
The surest way to avoid dental emergencies is to take oral health matters seriously. Most people tend to neglect to maintain a healthy mouth until they are forced to do so because of a throbbing toothache or infected gums. While some dental emergencies are inevitable, it is possible to avoid others with a few simple tips:
Talk To Your Dentist When You Notice Any Changes in Your Teeth or Gums
As aforementioned, dental cavities are the number one culprits for causing throbbing toothaches. You can prevent the need for emergency dentistry by seeking prompt treatment for tooth decay.
The treatment can include:
- Fluoride treatments — Fluoride treatments can reverse cavities in their early stages. Unlike regular toothpaste, tap water, and mouth rinses, professional fluoride treatments contain higher levels of fluoride. Your dentist will place a gel, foam, liquid, or varnish on a small tray and fit it over your teeth to aid in the restoration of small holes in your tooth’s enamel.
- Fillings — If a cavity has progressed and fluoride treatments cannot restore the holes in your tooth’s enamel, your dentist will likely recommend dental fillings. There are different material options to choose from, and they all work beautifully to restore the aesthetics and functions of decayed teeth.
- Crowns — Extensive decay weakens the teeth, making it challenging to install dental fillings. In this case, your dentist can use custom-fitted crowns to replace the cover of your natural tooth. Before crown installation, the specialist will drill out the decayed portions of your tooth and create a personalized crown that fits perfectly. Like fillings, crowns are available in various materials, including porcelain, gold, and resin.
- Root canal — A root canal will be necessary if decay reaches the tooth’s pulp. Treatment involves removing the infected pulp and replacing it with a filling before installing a dental crown.
- Tooth extractions — Sometimes, dental restoration treatments cannot work. The decay is too severe and the last resort is to remove the natural tooth. Your dentist can restore your smile’s aesthetics by filling the gap with a dental implant or bridge.
Moreover, you should schedule to see your dentist when you notice any changes in your gums, lips, inner cheeks, tongue, or the roof and floor of the mouth. Concerns like oral sores and ulcers can require close investigations before they worsen and cause excessive pain or chewing problems.
Uphold Good Oral Hygiene Practices
Another proven tip for avoiding dental emergencies is maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine. Brush and floss your teeth twice daily, and do not forget to give special attention to the tongue and roof of the mouth. Ideally, you should brush for at least two minutes per session using circular motions.
Other vital practices to remember include:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush if you brush with vigorous movements
- Replace old toothbrushes
- Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste
- Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after use
- Use a quality mouth rinse after flossing
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Eating sugary treats in moderation is healthy. However, excessive intake of sugary foods increases the acidity in your mouth and increases the risk of dental cavities. These acids attack the enamel and weaken it by stripping down essential minerals.
Use a Mouthguard When Playing Sports
Some sports are rough and expose your teeth to the risk of impact. Contact sports like football and hockey and even non-contact sports like ice skating and biking increase the risk of suffering force that knocks out a tooth. Depending on the impact force, you can also suffer nerve damage to a tooth.
You can avoid dental chips and cracks, among other trauma-related concerns, by wearing a mouthguard. The dental device will cover your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks, protecting them from possible trauma when engaging in athletic activities. Talk to your dentist about custom-fitted mouthguards if you often play sports or grind your teeth.
Face Your Dentophobia
Deep-seated anxieties and dentophobia can stand in your way of maintaining excellent dental health. Some people will only visit the dentist when their pain is greater than their fear of dentists.
The fear of dentists is often caused by a negative experience. It is also common for some people to fear dentists mainly because of the sounds made by tools typically used by professionals. Irrespective of the source of your fear, there are a few tips that can help:
- Visit your dentist in the morning when it’s less busy
- Wear your noise-canceling earbuds to lockout noises from dentist tools
- Attend your appointment in the company of a friend you trust
- Take deep breaths and meditate to calm your nerves
- Request your dentist for sedation
Also, it is crucial to work with a compassionate dental specialist. At The Whittier Dentist, we pride ourselves in ensuring each of our patients enjoys the best treatment experience possible. We are happy to help, irrespective of the current state of your oral health. Our vision is to help our patients to start their journey to a lifetime of beautiful smiles.
Remain Well Hydrated
Water is a fantastic mouth cleanser. It washes out leftover food, bacteria, and acids that can eat away your enamel. Moreover, water contains fluoride, a natural cavity fighter.
Your mouth contains saliva, which is its first defense against elements that cause tooth decay and gum issues. Saliva is 99% water, and it helps to wash away food leftovers and keep your teeth healthy. When you are dehydrated, you can experience a dry mouth. This is a condition characterized by a low supply of saliva, which increases the risk of tooth decay.
Finally, do not forget your routine dental visits. During your biannual appointments, your dentist will provide thorough dental exams and cleaning to ensure your oral health is in its best possible state. Routine checkups offer a proven means to avoid time-consuming, expensive and painful emergency dentistry treatments.
Find an Emergency Dentist Near Me
Dental emergencies are highly time-sensitive concerns. Any delays in seeking treatment increases the risk of a worsening infection or losing a tooth. At The Whittier Dentist, we provide top-quality emergency dentistry and reliable solutions for various dental concerns. Our team of seasoned specialists is always happy to go the extra mile to ease the pain and save your smile. If you want to make an emergency dentist appointment in Whittier, CA, call us now at 562-632-1223.