How do I know I have a Dental Problem?

Hav­ing a den­tal prob­lem is not always obvi­ous. Some peo­ple may not expe­ri­ence any dis­com­fort or pain at all, some may not expe­ri­ence it until the issue is really advanced, and oth­ers know something’s wrong from the very early stages. This is one of the rea­sons it is so imper­a­tive to sched­ule reg­u­lar den­tal check­ups; to catch any poten­tial den­tal issues at the ear­li­est stages to reduce the chances of pain or com­pli­ca­tions and costs asso­ci­ated with treat­ment. Your den­tist will always be happy to talk with you about any ques­tions you may have about some­thing new or dif­fer­ent hap­pen­ing in your mouth.

Although there may not be any severe pain, below is a list of symp­toms that should prompt you to con­sult with a den­tist for eval­u­a­tion. There may not be a prob­lem, but, if there is, treat­ment can be ini­ti­ated as soon as pos­si­ble, avoid­ing com­pli­ca­tions and giv­ing you peace of mind.

Pain – This is the most obvi­ous indi­ca­tion that there is a prob­lem in your mouth. But it may not be always be asso­ci­ated with your teeth. Keep track of where the pain starts and whether it “spi­ders” or radi­ates from a cer­tain spot in your mouth. Is it actu­ally in a tooth? What hap­pens to cre­ate the pain (bit­ing or chew­ing, expo­sure to hot or cold)? If you have pain in either of your jaw joints note what hap­pens to your level of pain when you’re chew­ing or rest­ing. Also try to deter­mine whether the pain is related to the joint (ball and socket) itself, or the mus­cles around it. Obvi­ously, if you expe­ri­ence any severe pain call your den­tist imme­di­ately. Mild or mod­er­ate pain that does not go away on its own within a day or two also requires a timely call and visit to the den­tist to find out what is going on and fix the problem.

Red and bleed­ing gums – Red and bleed­ing gums are one of the first indi­ca­tions of gum dis­ease and can be eas­ily reme­died with the estab­lish­ment of a more strin­gent oral hygiene reg­i­men, includ­ing floss­ing which is often neglected. Obvi­ously if these symp­toms do not improve you need to see a den­tist, or sched­ule more fre­quent den­tal hygiene vis­its. Often a new pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion will cause the mouth to be dry and require more fre­quent clean­ings, as the plaque builds up faster.

Decreased range of motion – This is of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance in issues related to the jaw joint, or TMJ, espe­cially if there has been some kind of trauma to the jaw area. Some­times a per­son is unable to open their jaw as wide as nor­mal. This is usu­ally because the lig­a­ments, mus­cles and joint have been stretched or dam­aged. Some­times the bone is bro­ken. Decreased range of motion can also occur when wis­dom teeth that are trapped below the gum­line, infected or impacted. Your den­tist should be con­sulted imme­di­ately if your mouth doesn’t open as usual. Again, a timely con­sul­ta­tion can avert dis­as­ter by begin­ning treat­ment early, avoid­ing com­pli­ca­tions and pro­vid­ing peace of mind.

Loose teeth – Loose teeth are often the results of poor oral hygiene which can cause red and bleed­ing gums and lead to severe peri­odon­tal dis­ease. This infec­tion in the gums causes the bone around the teeth to melt away, essen­tially reduc­ing con­tact with the teeth. Teeth can then become loose and be lost as the anchor of bone is elim­i­nated. Loose teeth are not nec­es­sar­ily painful, but they are a major sign that things aren’t right and, if treat­ment isn’t sought soon, can result in even big­ger restora­tive issues and treat­ment costs. The health of the whole body is poorly impacted by the bac­te­ria asso­ci­ated with peri­odon­tal dis­ease. Recent med­ical research has shown that the cleaner your mouth is, the health­ier your body is.

These are just some of the more com­monly expe­ri­ence den­tal prob­lems that don’t nec­es­sar­ily start with an X-ray or den­tal exam­i­na­tion and may, in fact, hap­pen in between den­tal appoint­ments with­out warn­ing. Your den­tist will always be happy to eval­u­ate your issues and dis­cuss options with you, so please call if you have any concerns!