Unfortunately, accidents happen. And sometimes you need to see an emergency dentist to put things right.

Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp., is an expert in emergency dentistry, and she has treated many serious and time-sensitive dental problems at her practice, Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp., in Orinda, California.

In this blog, she explains three signs that you need to see an emergency dentist.

What is a dental emergency?

A dental emergency is any problem that needs prompt or immediate attention. While you might not think a toothache is as serious as a knocked-out tooth, if you’re experiencing intense pain, it may well mean you have deep decay or an underlying oral infection that’s only going to get worse.

Failure to treat any such problems quickly could put your entire oral health at risk. If you’re not sure what to do, contact us for instructions as soon as possible.

3 signs you need to see an emergency dentist

Here are three signs that you need to see an emergency dentist:

1. Loose tooth

Loose teeth are, unfortunately, common. In adults, they’re usually caused from traumatic impact injuries, such as a car accident or a hard blow playing contact sports, or from gum (periodontal) disease. In children, they’re most often caused by playing sports.

Try to touch the tooth as little as possible, and never touch the root, as you can cause more damage. Call us as soon as possible and let us know you’re on your way. Even if you don’t think the tooth can be saved, never try to pull it out yourself. Not only can it be painful, but it can also increase your risk of developing an infection.

Dr. Ellis generally treats loose teeth from an injury with a dental splint. These are appliances that anchor the tooth by holding it rigidly against surrounding, sturdy teeth. The splint allows the root to heal and implant itself back in its socket. If the tooth is beyond repair, Dr. Ellis may send you to an oral surgeon to have it extracted.

If the loose tooth is caused by gum disease, Dr. Ellis treats it by performing a deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing. The scaling removes plaque and tartar from the tooth, above and below the gum line, which helps reduce gum inflammation. Planing smooths the tooth’s roots, which helps the gum tissue reattach to the tooth.

2. Knocked-out permanent tooth

Like a loose tooth, a knocked-out permanent tooth is a dental emergency. In fact, Dr. Ellis needs to treat you within 30-60 minutes of the injury to save the tooth. A knocked-out tooth likely has root damage and requires immediate care.

If you have a knocked-out tooth, do the following:

  1. Pick up the tooth by the crown (chewing end), and never by the root end. Touching the root end could cause more damage.
  2. Rinse the tooth gently with water to clean off debris, but don’t remove any attached tissue.
  3. Slide the tooth back into its socket, and bite down gently on gauze to hold it in place. If the tooth won’t go into the socket, hold it between your cheek and gum, or put it in a glass of milk.

Once you’ve done these things, call our office to let us know you’re on your way.

3. Bloody mouth

No matter what type of injury your mouth has — puncture wounds or deep cuts — and no matter where it’s located — on the lips, cheeks, gums, or tongue — it’s considered a dental emergency.

Start by cleaning the area with warm water, and if your tongue is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with gauze. Call Dr. Ellis to let her know you’re coming in, or go to a hospital emergency room, whichever takes less time.

There are other reasons to see an emergency dentist, such as abscesses (pus-filled pockets) on the tooth root, a severe periodontal infection, or the aforementioned toothache. No matter what your emergency is, Dr. Ellis is your first-line resource for treatment.

If you have a dental emergency, call Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. at (925) 272-2698. For all other dental concerns, book an appointment online or over the phone.