Most of us don’t enjoy going to the dentist, but keeping your mouth healthy is essential if you don’t want to have expensive problems down the road. You should be going at least once a year for a check-up, but there are a lot of other reasons it may be a good idea to go in for a visit. Catching a potential cavity early can save you from needing a costly root canal later, for example. Certain infections that can start in your mouth and gums also carry the potential to be life-threatening. If you see or feel anything unusual or painful, it’s always safer to go have it looked at. Let’s go over seven warning signs that it might be time to go to the dentist.
1. Painful Teeth or Gums
Even if the pain you’re experiencing is minor, it’s important to get it checked out early. Pain is an indication that something is wrong and could be an early sign of more serious problems in your teeth, gums, or even your jawbone. Dental pain can be connected to a variety of issues affecting various parts of the body, and minor pain can develop quickly into something worse.
2. Damaged Tooth
This is an obvious one, but a lost or damaged tooth is going to require a trip to the dentist sooner rather than later. If you wait too long to deal with the problem, you run the risk of damaging it further or being vulnerable to infection. There are many options for tooth replacement, including dentures, implants, or bridges, and you can go over the pros and cons of each at your visit.
3. Bleeding Gums
If your gums bleed persistently when you brush or floss, it may be a sign of a larger problem. It can be an early sign of Gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease. Bleeding gums are often caused by a build-up of harmful plaque. If left alone, the plaque will develop into tartar and cause periodontitis, which is more serious and can lead to serious health problems.
4. Sensitivity to Sweetness or Temperature
Cavities don’t always cause intense pain in the early stages. Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures or food that is particularly sweet are often early warning signs that you have a cavity or one may be developing. Cavities can become much more severe if left untreated, and eventually could lead to a root canal or even a complete loss of the tooth.
Discoloration or yellowing along the gum line can be either natural due to diet or a sign of a problem within the tooth. Yellow deposits specifically indicate hardened plaque, which can cause infection and tooth decay if left alone. If the yellowing is natural and bothersome, talk to your doctor about cosmetic options that might be right for you.
6. Mouth Sores
Having occasional, minor mouth sores isn’t necessarily a sign of a larger problem, everyone gets them from time to time. If you have a red bump or irritated patch of skin that doesn’t go away quickly on its own, you might want to visit the dentist. If it’s been more than a couple weeks, you should get it checked out, as sores can be an early sign of oral cancer.
7. Persistent Bad Breath
No one has perfect smelling breath all the time. However, ongoing problems with halitosis should always be checked out by a professional. Not only is bad breath unpleasant, but it’s also a warning sign that you may not be taking care of your teeth, mouth, and gums. Common causes of bad breath can be poor oral hygiene, gum disease, or dry mouth.
While most of us don’t anticipate unexpected dental problems, they do come up and they can be costly to fix. You might want to consider getting dental insurance to protect yourself in case you need dental care or encounter a health emergency. Depending on what your budget it and what you feel your needs are, you can get either general coverage for routine work or major coverage, which would cover more major dental expenses like braces, wisdom teeth removal, or dentures. Either way, having peace of mind about your teeth is worth the investment.
The dentist might seem intimidating, but oral health issues often get worse when they’re ignored, so visiting your dentist at the first sign of trouble is always the best move. Regular visits every year will keep your teeth healthy and clean in addition to allowing your dentist to catch any potential problems before they get worse. Remember, leaving even minor problems like cavities untreated can result in them developing into health issues that are much more painful and expensive. Remember, always take care of your teeth with just as much urgency as you would with any other medical issue, because the consequences for ignoring your oral health can be dire.