Proper oral health is the key to preventing gum disease and keeping your teeth for life. Part of that plan should include cleanings and regular dental checkups.
Even with all that work, the occasional dental emergency is bound to come up. The dentist can save a tooth or prevent further damage with early detection and treatment. Learning the warning signs that say you need to see your dentist is just as critical as understanding how to brush and floss.
Pain is a primary indicator of a problem. Healthy teeth don’t hurt. When an area of the mouth becomes sore or starts to throb, that indicates you need professional care. Tooth pain can result from a number of different conditions.
- Broken tooth
- Damaged filling
All are capable of creating serious pain. Once the pain starts, there is already damage. To save the tooth, the dentist will need to identify the problem and treat it as quickly as possible.
In some cases, pain is a sign of a more serious, and potentially life-threatening, condition. Each tooth houses a blood supply the can introduce infection to other areas of the body. This means, without proper dental treatment, you may end up with a blood or cardiac infection. Bacteria that invade organs like the brain or liver can lead to abscesses. See the dentist if you have pain the lasts longer than one or two days, develop a fever, or if the throbbing becomes severe.
The idea that all gums bleed is a common misconception. The fact is healthy, well cared for gums do not bleed. Bleeding is a sign of trauma and disease. If you started a new dental care regiment such as flossing, there may be some bleeding initially until you improve your technique. Bleeding that lasts longer than a week is a sign of a more complex issue and needs attention.
Bleeding gums can also be a symptom of a medical problem. A blood clotting disorder, for example, can present as bleeding gums. Anytime gums bleed for no apparent reason, see a dentist to discover the cause.
Swelling is a warning of gum disease or infection – both of which need treatment. When gums become red and swollen often, a dentist will check them for disease and recommend ways to help slow the damage. When the tissue around a specific tooth swells, that may be the beginnings of an infection. A knot or bump in the gum is a certain sign of abscess. An abscessed tooth is a true dental emergency and requires immediate attention, even if it does not hurt yet.
Dentistry goes beyond just the teeth and gums; it covers the entire mouth. Sores that develop on the tongue or on soft oral tissue may be due to a food allergy, trauma or disease. Anytime you see a sore that won’t heal, a patch or a discolored area in the mouth, it needs proper assessment by a dental professional to rule out a more serious condition such as oral cancer.
Bad breath tells you a lot about your physical and dental health. Not the breath you get after eating garlic or onions, chronic bad breath occurs when there is disease or infection in the mouth. This is an odor you can’t explain – it persists or comes back no matter how many times you brush or rinse. You wake up with it, and it lasts throughout the day.
Some types of odor signify a medical problem. For instances, sweet-smelling, fruity breath can indicate a person has diabetes and requires emergency care. Foul smelling breath means decay or infection. Everyone has bad breath occasionally, but when you notice it often, it is time to see the dentist.
Preventative dentistry means you get regular checkups, proper cleaning and learn to recognize signs of a problem with your teeth. Proper oral health is just as vital as eating right and staying active. If you want your teeth to last, you need to take care of them, and that means seeing the dentist when there is a problem.