In a world where 25% of all adults fail to brush their teeth twice per day, it’s no surprise that tooth decay is the second most common illness, just after the common cold. But when should you go to the dentist, and what treatments do dental clinics offer? Keep reading to learn about the different types of dental services, and when it’s important to see a dentist yourself.
When Should You Go to the Dentist?
Whether you have young children, a highly demanding job, or just friends who need your help, it’s easy for life to get busy. Unfortunately, that causes many people to let their preventive healthcare fall to the wayside. Before they know it, they wake up with a nagging health symptom and realize it’s been more than a year since their last checkup.
The quality of your oral health has a huge impact on your overall health. Instead of giving into the temptation to put off seeking treatment, set a dentist appointment if you experience the following symptoms of poor dental health. If you’ve ever noticed a mysterious pain in your mouth area and wondered when should you go to the dentist, these tips should help you out.
Bleeding After Flossing or Brushing
If you discover blood on your toothbrush, or in the sink after brushing or flossing, that’s not normal. It could be an indicator that you have gum disease or periodontal disease. This is an infection that targets your gums, the soft tissue that holds your teeth in place. If you don’t get gum disease treatment on time, it can lead to bone loss around your teeth, which could eventually result in tooth loss as well.
Other symptoms of periodontal disease include red, tender, or swollen gums, as well as discharge between gums and teeth. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your local general dentistry services.
If you notice your gums receding, it may not be anything serious. Gum recession is a normal part of aging and 88% of all people over the age of 65 experience gum recession around at least one tooth. However, gum recession could also be a symptom of gum disease. Either way, if you notice that your gums may be receding, you should set up an appointment with your dentist. Receding gums can cause the delicate roots of your teeth to be exposed, which increases your risk of tooth decay, tooth loss, pain, and infection. If you catch it and respond early, it should be possible to halt or even reverse the process. Don’t hesitate when should you go to the dentist.
If your mouth is healthy, it should be well lubricated with saliva at all times. This washes away food particles and helps neutralize acids produced by dental plaque. If you notice that your mouth feels unusually dry, it might be a sign of oncoming illness. Whatever the root cause, your dentist can help determine why your mouth feels dry. They’ll also be able to suggest ways to protect your teeth and restore moisture to your mouth.
Lingering Bumps and Sores
You’ve probably had experience with common canker sores. They can be quite uncomfortable, but they usually clear up on their own in two weeks or less. But if you notice other oral lesions that last longer than two weeks, you need to have them treated. A fungal infection known as thrush or candidiasis takes the form of white sores on the tongue, inner cheek, tonsils, and the roof of your mouth. You’re especially susceptible if you’re diabetic since thrush thrives on the heightened sugar levels in saliva. Fortunately, it can be treated with medicine. Just know that “when should you go to the dentist” is right away!
While it should seem obvious that you would need to see a dentist if you had a toothache, it’s all too common for people to ignore the pain in their teeth instead of seeking treatment. Therefore it bears repeating that, if you have a toothache, you should not ignore it. Pain and sensitivity in your teeth can be an indication of several things. It could be a cavity, an abscess, a broken tooth, or a damaged filling. It could also be from grinding your teeth, perhaps unknowingly. Only a good dentist can determine exactly what lies behind the pain, so set an appointment right away — by honestly considering when should you go to the dentist, you can avoid future problems.
Types and Causes of Tooth Pain
When should you go to the dentist? Any time you experience toothache-related pain, at least!
But not all tooth pain is created equal, and sometimes it’s hard for someone to convince themselves that they really need to call their dentist. Being able to identify the source of your oral pain and discomfort may help you make that decision when it counts. Sometimes a pain issue can be resolved just by changing your routine. To help you figure it out, the following are some major causes and types of tooth pain.
Dental Causes of Tooth Pain
There are two categories of tooth pain: dental causes, which actually affect the teeth and gums themselves, and non-dental causes, which may involve the areas around your mouth. The following are common dental causes of tooth pain:
- Dum disease: Periodontal disease can result in red, swollen, and painful gums.
- Tooth decay: If bacteria gets a foothold in a tooth, it can cause the tooth to begin decaying. This takes place in stages, with the most minor stage being a cavity. Unless allowed to progress significantly, cavities aren’t typically painful at first. If the decay continues and infects the pulp of the tooth, it can become abscesses and painful.
- Damaged teeth: Teeth may be cracked, chipped, or broken, and these conditions can be painful. They can also cause cuts to the cheeks and tongue.
- Malocclusion: Unfamiliar to those blessed with straight teeth, malocclusion is a term that describes an uneven bite, such as an overbite or underbite. This can cause soreness in both the teeth and jaw.
Non-Dental Causes of Tooth Pain
Although the following conditions don’t affect the teeth directly, they can nonetheless be sources of trouble for mouth pain:
- Muscle pain: If the muscles around the cranium or jaw are overused, they may become sore. Because this pain can be difficult to pinpoint, it is often misidentified as tooth pain or a toothache. For severe cases, TMJ treatment may be necessary if the pain is related to TMJ syndrome.
- Sinus infections: There are two sinuses at the back of the mouth, and unfortunately they’re prone to being infected. When this happens, they can fill up with fluid and place pressure on the back of the mouth. This can cause pain and discomfort. The pressure can be relieved some by taking a decongestant.
- Cluster Headaches: Although often associated with toothaches, it’s unsure what connection they actually share.
- Vitamin deficiency: Specifically, a lack of vitamin B12 is sometimes connected with tooth pain.
- Neurologic abnormalities: Nerve conditions, including trigeminal neuralgia, can be associated with persistent and sharp pains inside the mouth.
Most Common Types of Tooth Pain
Pain may be a part of life, but it’s also a serious indicator that something is wrong and that you should consider seeking dental health care. The following are the most common types of tooth pain, which you may need to consider when should you go to the dentist for.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks: It’s quite common for someone’s teeth to be sensitive to heat and cold, and it’s probably nothing serious if it happens to you. However, if the pain lingers for longer than half a minute, you may be suffering from a serious issue in the pulp of a tooth.
- Pain from biting down: If you experience sharp pain while chewing or biting, it could mean that you have a cracked tooth. It can also be a sign of having a loose filling, or it can be a symptom of a deeper dental issue.
- Puffy, painful, and red gums: If you notice that your gums are red, painful, or puffy, it could be a sign of having an abscessed tooth. It could mean that the abscess has moved beyond the tooth and is now affecting the surrounding soft tissues.
- A dull, aching pain: Often dull aches and pains in the teeth will be caused by clenching or grinding, also known as bruxism. The pressure applied to your teeth through grinding or clenching can cause your jaw and teeth to feel sore.
Not all of these conditions we’ve described warrant a trip to the dentist’s office all the time. Sometimes it can be as simple as avoiding clenching your jaw, or being more delicate when eating hot or cold foods. But if the pain lingers and becomes a cause for concern, you shouldn’t hesitate to set up an appointment with your dentist.
Other Dental Problems and Procedures
When deciding when should you go to the dentist, remember that there’s a lot more to dentistry than dealing with tooth pain. The following are other dental treatments you may need to go to the dentist for.
Braces and Orthodontic Treatments
A dental brace is used to correct the alignment of teeth. This is often to fix bite-related problems, such as overbite and underbite. However, they are also used for cosmetic purposes. By exerting steady pressure on the teeth over long periods of time, braces are able to bring all the teeth into alignment. Other orthodontic treatments may involve clear plastic liners instead of metal braces to correct alignment.
Implants and Bridges
Dental bridges and implants are two different ways of replacing one or more missing teeth. Bridges are false teeth which are anchored in place by neighboring teeth — bridges consist of two crowns placed on the anchoring teeth to hold the false tooth in the center.
Dental implants, on the other hand, use artificial roots to support the replacement teeth. Because of the specialized nature of these treatments, you may need to find a dental implants center.
Caps and Crowns
A cap or crown is a cover that’s placed over the top of a tooth to cover up damage. They may be used to hide results of decay, staining, brokenness, or misshapenness. Crowns are custom-designed for you based on the shape and color of your teeth, so you’ll need to make a few trips to your dentist’s office to have one installed.
If you suffer from extreme tooth damage, you may have to undergo a tooth extraction. At other times, permanent teeth may need to be extracted for orthodontic treatment.
Dentures are essentially prosthetic teeth. These come in two forms: partial dentures, which only replace one section of teeth, and full, which are also referred to simply as “false teeth.”
Fillings and Repairs
Dental fillings and repairs use special restorative materials to fix teeth that have been damaged by cavities or trauma. This is one of the most common types of dental treatments.
Periodontal or gum disease affects the gums and jaw, and it can result in lost teeth or gum. Sometimes gum surgery will be required to reverse the effects of the disease.
Oral Cancer Examination
Oral cancer screening is often a routine part of any dental checkup. The dentist will feel around for lumps or irregular tissue in your neck, face, and head, as well as inside your mouth. Oral cancer gets its start in the cells of the mouth, throat, or tongue. It can sometimes manifest as sores or discoloration in your mouth tissue.
Root canals are used to treat diseased or abscessed teeth. If a tooth becomes injured, decayed, or cracked, it can be necessary to open up the tooth and clean out the infected tissue. Then the space is filled back up and the opening is sealed shut. This way the natural tooth is saved instead of being replaced with an artificial tooth, which can result in jaw or alignment problems.
Dental sealants are usually applied to the outside surface of the teeth, where the teeth come into contact with food. They act like barriers against decaying bacteria. Sealants are typically applied to the back of teeth.
Teeth darken with age, and sometimes they can darken quicker as a result of staining. Not surprisingly, many people are interested in teeth whitening to enhance their smile’s appearance.
Dental veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded onto teeth. They can be used to repair chipped, stained, and decayed teeth, as well as to close in gaps between teeth. Veneers can be used to correct overcrowded or overlapping teeth, and they can also whiten teeth as a form of cosmetic dental care.
As you can see, “when should you go to the dentist” really depends on what kind of issue you’re dealing with. From relieving painful conditions to enhancing cosmetic appearance, there are dental practices for all kinds of things. Hopefully, this will help you answer that question the next time you wonder when should you go to the dentist.