At least every six months. That concludes today’s post.
Kidding! Although regularly scheduled cleanings and appointments should occur every 6 months or as advised by your dental professional, the truth is there will be something at one point or another that brings you into your dentist’s office between the aforementioned cleaning appointments. Today’s post is inspired by those types of visits; the ones that occur based on some form of discomfort, pain or physical oral manifestation that requires treatment or advice. Dental issues left untreated can exacerbate the severity of the problem at hand and in more extreme circumstances severely impact your oral and overall health. The mouth is also an area of the body that presents symptoms of more severe conditions and ailments including auto-immune issues and cancers. Today’s post aims to educate you on when issues or symptoms you may be experiencing in your mouth warrant a trip to your dentist.
This one seems simple and obvious, but the truth of the matter is that many people elect to ignore oral pain for far too long. Waiting until pain becomes near unbearable often leads to unnecessary suffering and worse yet often requires more extreme forms of treatment.
The feeling of pain is actually our brain and body’s means of protecting us dating back to our fight or flight evolutionary process. Persistent or severe pain in a tooth, teeth, gums, mouth or surrounding areas (lips and jaw) definitely warrant a trip to your dentist. This type of pain could represent a myriad of things including infection, increasing sensitivity or cracks. If you don’t feel right it there is no harm in getting it checked.
Whether it is a chipped tooth or cracked jaw a dentist should be consulted if physical trauma has physically affected you or led to pain. Oral surgeons are specialists who are the foremost experts in treating trauma to your teeth and surrounding facial area. Your dentist might be able to treat quite a large number of trauma related issues. Feel free to ask on your next dental visit.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity
If your teeth feel sensitive to the point that it concerns you or specialized toothpastes from your favourite Costco don’t work, it is definitely worth a trip in to your dentist. Loss of your teeth’s protective enamel layer can lead to long term sensitivity. It could represent a variety of issues including low saliva production, aggressive brushing or grinding your teeth in your sleep. Sensitivity is quite common and has many triggers that are highly treatable.
If you haven’t flossed in a little while and bleed slightly only to heal quickly, you know that isn’t an issue. If however you bleed more than that on a regular basis or bleed for longer than you should, a trip in to see your dentist is highly recommended. The most common cause of bleeding is periodontal disease such as gingivitis. There are however some other more serious medical issues leading to your bleeding. This includes leukemia and blood disorders such as hemophilia. The earlier you get on this the better for both peace of mind and treatment.
Slow Healing Sores and Lesions
The mouth is one of the fastest healing parts of our body. That being said, if a sore, wound or other similar lesion seems to not be healing a dental visit should be made. Various ailments can result in slow healing including diabetes, infection, cancer or even stress related issues. Studies have shown that stress can cause wounds to heal up to 40% slower.
Swollen and Inflamed Gums
Swollen and inflamed gums are a very treatable issue in most circumstances. A trip to the dentist is warranted and the advice given should be understood and adhered to. That being said, leaving your gums swollen for a long time has serious long term implications including periodontits, heart disease and is other serious risks to your well being.
Strange Growths and Lumps
If there is something in your mouth, mainly along your tongue and inner cheek that wasn’t there for a birthday or two, a check up can save your some valuable things including your life. They could be harmless or represent serious issues such as cancer or warrant removal. Dental offices should come equipped with cancer scanning equipment and a check will do far more good than harm.
Persistent or Severe Bad Breath
Bad breath stinks. There are several ways to treat bad breath including starting to brush twice a day, floss once and use mouth wash. Scheduling a cleaning and check up appointment is likely the best way to set the foundation for treating bad breathe. A lingering issue could be something more serious than just what you are eating including diabetes, pneumonia and liver disease.
Photo: Mad Men/AMC