You no doubt know that you should visit a dentist at least twice a year for a professional teeth cleaning and checkup. But too often patients ignore signs and symptoms that can signal a critical issue that needs attention from your dentist. If one or more of the following five conditions present themselves between visits, don’t wait- it’s time to go visit your dentist pronto. See which symptoms signal clear sign that it’s time for a dental visit below:
1. Sore gums
Sore gums often area a sign of gingivitis (which is an inflammation of the gums) or even the more serious periodontitis, an inflammation of your teeth’s attachment fibers. Left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis which could then result in receding gums, damage to your jaw bones and tooth loss. You’ll know your gums are sore if they are painful, sensitive, redness, swollen, and/or bleeding.
2. Bad breath
About 50 percent of us will have bad breath (halitosis) at some point in our lives. And while it’s usually nothing serious (we’ve all awakened with “morning breath”), if you experience bad breath regularly it could be a sign of something of concern.
Bad breath can be caused by:
- Dry mouth, a condition when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva
- Advanced tooth decay
- A warning indication of advanced gum disease
- A medical condition such as diabetes, liver/kidney disease, a sinus condition, or gastric reflux.
If your bad breath continues no matter how much you brush, floss or use mouthwash, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist.
3. Wisdom teeth pain
Our wisdom teeth are the last teeth of our molars to “erupt” (appear in the mouth), usually in the late-teen years or early adulthood. Not everyone has wisdom teeth, some people are born with all four and some with only one or two.
Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars on each side of your lower and upper jaws, although for many people the teeth are hidden below a layer of cartilage or bone. Some patients will feel pain or irritation from wisdom teeth that are growing in. Often wisdom teeth will come in part way or crooked.
If you or your child feels pain from wisdom teeth it’s best to get to a dentist as soon as possible. In severe cases wisdom teeth can cause teeth to misalign, cause pain and in severe cases will become infected.
4. Tooth pain
If a tooth hurts, it could be the sign of a cavity, an injury to the tooth or an infection. There are a number of reasons that you may feel pain in your tooth. It is best to let your dentist x-ray and examine the area for possible issues. Here are several different signs that can signal that it’s time to see a dentist to alleviate your pain:
- Constant severe pain and/or pressure radiating from a tooth
- Sharp or shooting pain, even if it comes and goes
- Throbbing pain
- Gums that are swollen or bleeding around a tooth
- Consistent tooth sensitivity, feeling of air or extreme sensitivity
- A dull ache in your upper teeth and/or jaw
- Pain when chewing or eating
- Pus or foul odor (indicates an infection that needs urgent treatment)
- Jaw pain, fever, swollen lymph nodes, difficulty with swallowing or breathing
Leaving an infected tooth untreated can cause serious health risks, and in extreme cases you face the possibility of the infection spreading or entering into your blood stream. Moreover, leaving an infection untreated in your mouth can quickly spread to other parts of your jaw, head, neck and body. Tooth pain is more than just a sensation, it is a signal that there has been damage to a tooth that needs repair. If you feel pain in a tooth that has had a dental restoration, it is incredibly important to have the tooth x-rayed and examined by your dentist.
5. TMJ/TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders)
The Temporomandibular Joint connects the jawbone to the skull. If the joint is damaged or injured, it can lead to TMD/TMJ Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. Most episodes of TMD happen due to teeth or jaw injury, teeth or jaw misalignment, teeth grinding, arthritis, stress, and even chewing gum.
Symptoms include pain in the area just below your ear, jaw “popping” when you open and close your mouth, pain in the ear, a “clicking” sound heard in the ear when opening the jaw, sore/stiff jaw muscles, a “locked” jaw, and/or headache in the temple area. The symptoms may be as simple as a simple pain in the jaw, to more severe locking of the jaw.
The good news is the pain of TMJ/TMD usually is temporary and your dentist likely will be able to recommend non-surgical treatments. There are several ways to treat the symptoms of TMJ either by alleviating the underlying causes through methods like bite splints, medication or relaxation techniques. In severe cases, surgery is required to repair the jaw and relieve pain.
Overall, if you feel something that isn’t a normal sensation for you or if you feel pain it is always a good idea to have the area examined. Waiting to seek treatment can leave you with more pain and possibly more severe complications. If you haven’t made an appointment for your twice-yearly dental make your appointment today!
We offer affordable dentistry with convenient hours at 60+ dental office locations in Dallas, Houston, Richardson, Arlington, Plano, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Irving, Aldine, Katy, Oak Cliff, Garland, Lewisville and more! Jefferson Dental accepts Medicaid, most dental insurance, and offers patients with no insurance deep discounts on treatment through our Sonrisa plan.