Toothaches, chipped teeth, and swollen gums are just a few of the dental problems that can ruin your day. But not every dental issue requires a frantic rush to the dentist. So, how do you know when a minor ache escalates into a full-blown emergency?

In this blog, you learn the signs that warrant immediate attention, helping you differentiate between a "wait-and-see" situation and a call for an emergency dentist. From excruciating pain to facial swelling and beyond, you know how to make informed decisions about your oral health and ensure you receive the prompt care you need.

A timely response can make all the difference in preserving your teeth and preventing further complications.

Signs that You Have a Dental Emergency

Knowing the signs of a dental emergency ensures timely and appropriate treatment. They include the following:

  1. Broken or Cracked Teeth. These pose a risk of pain, sensitivity, and infection as they create a pathway for bacteria to enter the tooth​​​​.
  2. Knocked-out Teeth. This urgent situation requires immediate dental care to save the tooth​​.
  3. Severe Pain. Persistent, severe toothaches, particularly if accompanied by fever, swelling, or pain radiating to the ear or jaw, are indicative of serious dental problems and possibly infections​​​​​​.
  4. Bleeding or Aching Gums. Excessive bleeding may be a sign of periodontal disease. Swollen, red, or bleeding gums, especially when combined with systemic symptoms like fever, could indicate severe infections or other systemic diseases​​​​.
  5. Soft Tissue Injury. Injuries to the lips, tongue, or inner cheeks need immediate attention, especially if there's significant bleeding or deep cuts.
  6. Pus in the Gums. This is a sign of a dental or gum abscess and indicates infection. It requires immediate treatment to prevent the spread of infection, which can lead to more serious health issues, including sepsis​​.
  7. Extreme Tooth Sensitivity. Sensitivity to hot, cold, or spicy foods can indicate underlying issues like tooth decay or gum recession.

Timely recognition and response to these signs are imperative. Ignoring or delaying treatment for dental emergencies can lead to more severe health problems, including the loss of teeth and systemic infections.

  • You have Loose Teeth

Loose teeth in adults are not a regular occurrence and usually signal underlying dental issues that require prompt attention. Immediate consultation with a dentist is advisable to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. They are caused by periodontitis (gum disease), dental trauma, or osteoporosis.

Loose teeth can be treated by addressing gum disease, managing dental trauma, and dealing with the effects of osteoporosis. Some preventive measures to avoid having loose teeth include maintaining good oral hygiene, undertaking regular dental checkups, and having a healthy lifestyle.

  • You Chip or Crack a Tooth

Cracking or chipping a tooth can occur due to various forms of trauma and is considered a dental emergency. The nature of the injury and the appropriate response can vary based on the severity of the damage.

If left to stay for long, a chipped or cracked tooth can result in a split tooth. They can also affect the root of your tooth and cause discoloration, infection, and decay.

Once you visit the dentist for chipping or cracking your tooth, they can treat you using various methods, depending on the nature of your injury. A dentist may polish the surface or smooth the edges for slight chips or cracks.

If the damage to your teeth is more substantial, treatment options include:

  1. Bonding involves using a plastic resin to fill in the fracture or crack.
  2. Crowns: For cases where a significant portion of the tooth is damaged or missing, a porcelain or ceramic crown may be fitted over the tooth.

Preventive measures include the use of mouthguards, avoiding hard foods, and going for regular dental checkups.

  • You Knock Teeth Loose

When you are a child, your milk teeth become loose to give space to permanent teeth. Therefore, as the name suggests, permanent teeth in adults should never be loose or wiggle.

However, if you have a tooth that is wiggly or loose, you want to visit the emergency dentist as soon as possible because this is an emergency.

A loose tooth may result from a knock in your mouth, an injury, or an infection. If you have been involved in an accident and had a mouth-related injury, you should seek emergency dental care services.

  • You have Severe Dental Pain

Severe dental pain is a significant symptom that should not be overlooked, as it often indicates underlying dental issues requiring immediate attention. It is a clear indicator that something is wrong with your oral health.

Common causes of severe dental pain include infections and decay, tooth injuries, periodontitis, and pulpitis (dental pulp inflammation). Some treatment options include addressing infections and decare, treating injuries, managing periodontitis, and dealing with pulpitis.

Some of the treatment options include prescription or over-the-counter painkillers. These treatment options depend on the dentist's diagnosis. Your dentist will further investigate the cause of severe dental pain by using X-rays.

  • You Have a Swelling on Your Jaw

Swelling of the jaw is a symptom of a dental health emergency that can arise from various causes, such as severe infection, trauma or injury, viral infections, and dental issues, and may necessitate emergency dental care.

A swollen jaw can be an indicator of a severe infection, potentially leading to difficulty breathing or swallowing and a high fever. It is a result of trauma and injury, dental issues, or viral infections.

It is crucial to consult a dentist or doctor if you experience jaw pain, swollen gums, difficulty chewing, fever, or worsening pain over time. This is especially important if the swelling is due to a suspected infection in the mouth.

You want to seek dental care promptly because swelling can impact your daily activities, such as eating and speaking. Delayed treatment of jaw swelling, especially when caused by infections, can lead to more severe complications.

  • Your Gums Ache and Bleed

Aching and bleeding gums can be a sign of progress toward gum disease, a condition that needs prompt attention and treatment.

Common causes of aching and bleeding gums include the following:

  1. Gum Disease: This includes gingivitis (early-stage gum disease) and periodontitis (advanced gum disease). These conditions result from poor oral hygiene and can lead to more severe symptoms if left untreated​​​​​​.
  2. Vitamin Deficiencies: Deficiencies in vitamins, particularly Vitamin C and Vitamin K, can lead to gums bleeding easily​​.
  3. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like leukemia, oral cancer, or the side effects of chemotherapy, can result in bleeding and aching gums.

You want to consult your dentist for an accurate diagnosis of the actual cause of your gum aching or bleeding. After the diagnosis, treatment will be based on the cause. If Gingivitis is detected early, the treatment options will be frequent cleanings and improved oral hygiene practices.

However, in more severe cases, surgical techniques such as tissue or bone grafts, flap surgery, tissue regeneration, and bone surgery may be required​​.

Some preventive measures include maintaining good oral hygiene, taking a healthy diet, avoiding risk factors such as smoking, and managing hormonal changes, which will contribute to healthier gums.

  • You are Experiencing Jaw Immobility

Jaw immobility, also known as locked jaw, is a condition characterized by the inability to open the mouth fully. This can range from mild discomfort to severely limited movement, impacting your ability to speak, eat, and perform basic oral hygiene routines.

The primary symptom of jaw immobility is difficulty opening the mouth. However, other associated symptoms may include pain in the jaw, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint, difficulty speaking, and headaches.

The treatment for jaw immobility depends on the underlying cause. Some common treatment options include administering anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers.

If you experience jaw immobility, it is important to see a doctor or dentist to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms: severe pain, numbness or tingling in the face, facial swelling, and fever.

  • You have a Metallic Taste in Your Mouth

A metallic taste in your mouth can be a sign that you have a dental emergency if it is accompanied by so much pain. It indicates a serious issue, such as an abscessed tooth or a nerve problem, or that a filling has become loose or cracked.

You want to seek the services of an emergency dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.

  • You are Experiencing Tooth Numbness

Tooth numbness is a sign that you need to visit an oral care professional immediately. It may be caused by a severe infection that has reached the nerves in the roots of the teeth. A root canal procedure may be essential to saving the teeth.

  • You are Feeling Fatigued

The hard work causes fatigue in the body while fighting off infections. If you are feeling fatigued and are also experiencing oral infection symptoms, you want to visit the dentist as soon as possible.

Your dentist will help you rule out the probable cause of the infection and whether it is the leading cause of the fatigue you are experiencing. Based on the diagnosis, your dentist will give you medicine to relieve the infection and deal with what is wrong with your teeth.

  • You Have Symptoms of Abscesses in Your Teeth

An abscess is a painful buildup of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It can occur anywhere in the body, including the mouth. When an abscess develops in the mouth, it is often referred to as a dental abscess.

Dental Abscesses can form around the root of a tooth, between the gums and the tooth, or in the gums themselves. If you suspect you have a dental abscess, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Delaying treatment can lead to serious complications, such as:

  1. Bone loss: A dental abscess can damage the bone that supports your teeth.
  2. Loss of teeth: If the infection is not treated, it can lead to the loss of the affected tooth.
  3. Spread of infection: The infection can spread to other parts of your body, such as your brain or heart.

The treatment for a dental abscess will depend on the severity of the infection. In some cases, the dentist may be able to drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics. However, in other cases, a more extensive procedure, such as a root canal or tooth extraction, may be necessary.

To prevent dental abscesses, you should brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, avoid eating sugary foods and drinks, and treat any dental problems such as cavities as soon as possible.

Steps to take if You have a Dental Emergency

Once you establish that you have a dental emergency, you should do the following:

  • Contact your oral care personnel’s office immediately.
  • If the dentist's office is already closed, you should listen to the voicemail message that will provide you with the number you need to call to obtain help for your emergency.
  • If you are not able to reach the dentist's office, you can check yourself in an emergency room.
  • If that is not possible, you can do some home remedies that will help you get some relief. These remedies include rinsing your mouth with warm, salty water, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and applying a cold compress to the affected area.

Find a Dental Emergency Dentist Near Me

Having a dental issue can be devastating due to the pain and discomfort that come along with it. Having a dental emergency is more devastating and requires prompt and immediate care from an emergency oral care professional.

If you or a loved one has a dental emergency in Encino, CA, you want to visit the dentist’s office as soon as possible to avoid tooth loss or damaged gums and roots. Untreated emergencies can lead to more serious conditions and expensive procedures, such as surgery.

Therefore, you want to seek the oral care services of an experienced emergency dentist so that they can give you a diagnosis of what is ailing you and give you prompt treatment.

At Lasting Impressions Dental Spa, we have emergency dentists ready to serve you and give you relief from discomfort and pain. Contact us today at 818-751-5100 to book an appointment with us.