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!