The dental health issue is a matter of concern to everyone because teeth are crucial parts of the body. Dental emergencies are not uncommon health issues in most homes, and they can arise any time of the day. Being informed and knowledgeable on what dental health issue you should consider an emergency and what isn't can help you save your tooth and even your money eventually.

If you're curious to know what dental emergency entails and what dental issues are considered a dental emergency, this article is for you to know when you need to seek the services of a dentist.

A Dental Emergency, What is it Exactly?

While it is essential to visit your dentist for a routine check-up after every six months, some dental issues may necessitate an emergency appointment with your dentist for diagnosis and treatment. Typically, a dental emergency is any health issue affecting your mouth area, whether it's gum, teeth, or tongue, and it comes with the following common symptoms:

  • Tooth pain and sensitivity
  • Gum pain
  • Facial trauma
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Unpleasant mouth odor

Since no one can anticipate when he/she will experience an emergency dental health issue, most people nowadays retain the services of a dentist who will be readily available 24/7 to handle their emergency dental health issues.

How to Know You Have a Dental Health Emergency Issue

To know whether the sensitivity you are experiencing in your tooth when you sip a cold drink is an emergency dental health issue or not, sometimes you might have to consult a dentist for an examination. Because a dental health issue can become severe and costly with time, you should consult a dentist if you experience any of the following common dental  emergency problems:

Severe Toothache

One of the most common types of dental health emergency issues is severe toothache or pain. If you or your child is experiencing a severe toothache, it might be time to consult a credible dentist to find ways to reduce or treat the pain.

A toothache can indicate a wide range of dental health issues that are not visible to the naked eye, but a dentist might be able to determine the cause for proper treatment measures. Typically, a toothache or pain can be due to bacterial infection in the pulp section of your tooth, mouth injury, or dental abscess.

If you experience excruciating and uncomfortable pain in your tooth, you should the following steps before you schedule a consultation with a dentist of choice to alleviate the pain:

  • Use painkillers like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen
  • Use a piece of cloth to apply ice cubes on the cheek area adjacent to the affected tooth
  • Rinse your mouth with salty warm water

Although the above home remedies can reduce the excruciating pain in your tooth and mouth area, they will not treat the underlying dental illness, making it essential to consult a dentist for an emergency dental check-up.

Knocked-Out Tooth

Having any of your teeth "knocked-out" can be a painful and uncomfortable experience, but you have to figure out a solution because you cannot dwell on the aches and the discomfort. First things first, before calling your dentist to book a dental emergency appointment, you should follow the following steps to increase your chances of treating that dental health issue:

  • Consider picking up your tooth without touching its root(s) section
  • If you have some water, you should rinse your tooth gently to remove the dust until it's clean. As you rinse the tooth, you should be cautious not to scrub or remove its attached tissues.
  • If possible, you should try to place or insert your tooth back into its socket in the jawbone.
  • The same way you would store parts of your chipped tooth, you can also store your knocked-out tooth in a cup of milk or water with a bit of salt to keep it viable.

To increase your chances of saving your knocked-out tooth, you should consult an experienced dentist as soon as possible. If it is impossible to reinsert or place the tooth back to its ideal position due to damaged roots or other reasons, you might need to consider a dental implant to fill up the tooth gap.

A dental implant is typically an artificial metallic tooth root that a dentist will fix in your jawbone if the knocked-out tooth is unviable. The purpose of this dental implant is to support a custom-made artificial tooth that will function and look like the rest of your natural teeth.

You might never have thought of fixing a dental implant, but in that kind of situation, it cannot work out in your favor to maintain the aesthetic appearance of your smile and maintain your dental health.

Cracked/Chipped Tooth

When determining what qualifies as a dental emergency issue, a cracked or chipped tooth can cause a bit of confusion because some mere chips don't qualify as a dental emergency. While some minor chips on the tooth/teeth might not constitute a dental emergency, you should be cautious as you chew food to avoid hurting or injuring your tongue, gums, or any other soft tissues of your mouth.

However, if the crack or fracture is sensitive or painful, you should schedule a consultation with a dentist as soon as you can. That tooth crack might be deeper than you can see with your naked eye, and your dentist might have to use an X-ray to determine if the crack affects the pulp section of the tooth.

Suppose this crack or a fracture causes damage to your tooth's pulp section, which contains several soft tissues and nerves. In that case, a root canal treatment procedure might be helpful to correct that dental issue. However, if the crack or chip on your tooth is minor, your dentist might be able to fix that dental health issue by smoothening the irregular or sharp surface of the tooth.

Nowadays, most dentists have the necessary modern equipment to design your preferred type of crown and place it on your tooth the same day. Other dentists with outside laboratories where they make these dental crowns or caps will use a temporary crown before placement of your permanent dental crown on a different appointment.

A dental crown is typically a "cap" that resembles a tooth that a dentist places over a tooth with a crack or after a root canal to restore the shape and strength of the tooth to continue functioning like adjacent natural teeth.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is undoubtedly a dental emergency because it can lead to a life-threatening health condition if it remains untreated. A dental abscess is not an uncommon dental health issue and may form on your tooth roots or gums due to bacterial infection, which causes a build-up of pus.

When the pus accumulates, it can cause severe sensitivity, swelling, fever, consistent headache, and even unpleasant odor from your mouth. The cause of this bacterial infection is primarily due to untreated dental health issues like cavities or fractures.

When a dental abscess remains untreated, there are high chances that it will spread to other parts of your mouth, including your jawbone. When that happens, you might be facing a different severe dental health issue that might even necessitate tooth extraction.

You must seek the services of an emergency dentist if you experience symptoms of a dental abscess for early treatment options to avoid possible future complications. As you wait for your dental emergency appointment, you should take the following steps to increase the chances of treating the cause of the abscess:

  • Avoid brushing the infected area
  • Avoid eating or drinking hot foods and drinks
  • Rinse your mouth, especially the side with abscess, with warm water containing a bit of salt to draw or extract pus on the surface

Depending on the severity of that particular dental abscess, the emergency dentist might take the following actions to treat this dental health issue:

  • Drain the pus causing the abscess or infection
  • Provide you with antibiotics
  • Surgically perform a root canal procedure if the abscess is on the tooth root part.

Lost Dental Crown

Most individuals have at least one dental crown or filling in their mouth to protect their delicate parts of their tooth. Due to the wear and tear of your tooth, which sometimes could be normal, your dental crown may fall out or become lost.

When your dental crown falls off or becomes lost, there might be a need to contact an emergency dentist because the protected tooth will continue to damage and decay, leading to cavities. When that happens, the protected tooth will change its size and shape, making your dental crown unfirm on the tooth.

For that reason, a lost dental crown or cap qualifies as a dental health emergency problem. Whether your dental crown is lost or loose on the protected tooth, it is wise to consult an emergency dentist for an appropriate remedy option to solve the issue.

Before your initial dental emergency appointment, you should preserve or store your dental crown in a locked container because your emergency dentist might be able to re-use it instead of designing another crown.

Soft Tissue Injury

A dental emergency can also come from a soft tissue injury in your mouth, including your gums, tongue, cheeks, or lips. While soft tissue injury in your mouth may not bleed a lot, it can become severe with time if the bleeding persists or is left untreated.

Whether it is a tear, laceration, or a wound in any soft tissue of your mouth, there is a need to visit an emergency dentist to control any persistent bleeding and treat it. Here are few tips for caring for a soft tissue injury in your mouth before your first dental emergency appointment to treat the injury:

  • Consider using warm water with mild salt to rinse your mouth
  • Use ice cubes wrapped in a piece of clean cloth to control the swelling and reduce the bleeding
  • To stop the bleeding, you should consider applying pressure on the mouth soft tissue with an injury using a moistened gauze or a teabag
  • If the bleeding persists and it doesn't seem to stop, you should visit an emergency dentist as soon as you can, especially if that soft tissue injury or cut needs some stitches

Loose or Broken Dental Braces

Dental braces are crucial in correcting dental health issues like teeth misalignment and crowding, but sometimes they can become loose or break. While dental braces are more common in children or teenagers, even adults might require them to improve their teeth alignment and the aesthetic appearance of their smile.

When these dental braces become loose on the teeth or break, you must call your emergency dentist to schedule an appointment because they may need some adjustment if they are loose to increase the pressure and tension on the targeted teeth. In the meantime, if your dental braces are loose, you can try reattaching them back to a better position using orthodontic wax.

However, if your braces have breakage or the wire is sticking out of the brackets that hold it, it can cause injury to your soft mouth tissues like the tongue. In that case, you should consider pushing the wire carefully into a more comfortable position using anything soft like an eraser-end of a clean pencil.

Suppose it is impossible to reposition the wire to a better and less risky position. In that case, you should cover its end with a cotton ball or orthodontic wax before your dental emergency appointment time or day.

Foreign or Unwanted Object Between Your Teeth

Sometimes, an unwanted or foreign object like a fish or chicken bone can become stuck between your teeth spacing when you are eating. When that happens, it is possible to remove the unwanted object using dental floss or a thin thread.

However, if these options are unsuccessful, you should avoid forcing that foreign object out, especially with a sharp tool, because you might end up aggravating the pain or causing an injury to your gums. If you are in that kind of situation, an emergency dentist can inspect and examine the area closely with the right dentistry equipment to remove the foreign object stuck between spaces of your teeth.

Broken Jaw or Jaw Pain

A broken jaw will not impact your teeth, but it can make it challenging to breathe or eat. Any health issue affecting your breathing ability, like a broken jaw, qualifies as an emergency medical need. Regardless of what leads to the breakage of your jaw, you must seek the services of a reliable dentist immediately.

In the meantime, you can do any of the following to ease the excruciating pain as you wait for your dental emergency appointment to fix the issue:

  • Use painkillers
  • Apply ice cubes on your cheek area adjacent to the jaw with throbbing pain or breakage

Generally, any dental health issue that requires immediate medical assistance to stop ongoing bleeding, ease the pain, or save a tooth qualifies as a dental emergency. If you happen to experience any of the above emergency dental health problems, you should inform your dentist immediately to schedule an appointment.

If you don't have an emergency dentist already, you should consider the factors below to find a reliable dentist for an immediate remedy to your dental health issue:

  • The dentist's reputation
  • The dentist's experience
  • The dentist's fee
  • The dentist's accreditations
  • The dentist's location

Any other type of dental health issue that does not require immediate medical attention or can wait for a few hours before seeking the services of a dentist is not a dental emergency, for example:

  • Non-severe toothache
  • Orthodontic procedures
  • Tooth fillings
  • Cosmetic or beautifying procedures, for example, teeth whitening

How Teledentistry Can Help You During Any of the Above Mentioned Dental Emergencies

Like any other emergency health issue, dental emergencies will occur past work hours or in a location where you would never expect. Because of this undeniable fact, teledentistry has become more common and valuable because it helps people with dental emergency problems find a reliable dentist without a hassle.

Typically, teledentistry comprises a wide range of technological inventions that help transfer dental information virtually between a dentist and any person with a dental health issue or question. Through teledentistry, you can now make a live video call with your prospective dentist to explain or show him/her your dental emergency issue for a bit of advice on what to do next.

Teledentistry is also helping dentists and orthodontists perform their daily activities efficiently and quickly, for example:

  • Communicating and educating patients about any upcoming dental and oral health treatment
  • Checking or monitoring an ongoing dental health issue treatment

Find an Hawthorne Emergency Dentist Near Me

We hope you understand what dental issues are considered a dental emergency and what shouldn’t worry you from the above explanation. At Ganji Dental, we know a dental health issue can be uncomfortable and devastating, especially if it happens in an expected location and time.

If you notice or experience any indicators of a dental emergency like bleeding and persistent pain, our experienced dentists are available 24/7 for you. Call us now at 310-643-8045 if you are in Hawthorne, California, to explain your dental emergency issue to our understanding dentists for appropriate guidance and treatment.