The signs of dental problems

We often advise people to “see your dentist early” and talk about “preventative oral care”, but outside of seeing your dentist twice a year, what does that actually look like? What are the problems in your mouth you need to be looking out for?

If you experience any of the following warning signs of dental health issues, you should make an appointment to see one of us here at Myers Street as soon as possible:

Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing

Bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums. It’s a common and mild form of gum disease, and it’s caused by a build-up of plaque at your gum line. If you have gingivitis, your gums may be irritated, red, and swollen. They may bleed when you brush your teeth.

Chronic bad breath

The most common causes of bad breath are certain foods and alcoholic beverages, smoking, periodontal diseases, and odour-causing bacteria on the tongue. Bad breath is mostly caused by certain bacteria on food particles in the mouth. These bacteria break down the food particles, which don’t smell good. This is more common among people with periodontal diseases (such as gingivitis and periodontitis) and poor oral hygiene.

Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or beverages

Tooth sensitivity is caused by the cells in the teeth being stimulated, causing a short, sharp pain when exposed to hot or cold temperatures through food and drink. Sometimes, even by air. Another cause of tooth sensitivity is cracks in the tooth’s enamel surface.

Pain or toothache

A toothache or tooth pain occurs when the nerve in the root of a tooth (or surrounding a tooth) is irritated. Infection, decay, injury, or tooth loss are the most common causes of dental pain. Pain may also occur after a tooth is pulled out.

Loose teeth

If you have a loose tooth, this can progress, eventually detaching completely from the gums and bone. This can occur with severe gum disease or from unresolved teeth grinding.

Receding gums

Gums can become pushed back or wear away and expose the pink tissue that covers the teeth roots. Gums might also recede around a tooth if it is in an unusual position. Receding gums can be a health concern when the teeth roots are exposed, leaving the teeth at risk of decay, infection, and eventual loss.

Pain when eating

Structural damage, like a crack in the teeth caused by an injury or a loose/missing filling, can also lead your teeth feeling sensitive when chewing. This kind of damage can allow bacteria to reach the inner nerves or cause the damaged tooth to press on the nerves, both of which can cause pain when chewing or biting.

Swelling of the face and cheek

Swollen cheeks may indicate an infection in your face, an abscess in your tooth, or any number of other possible medical issues. The particulars of the swollen area can help a doctor or dentist identify what the problem is. If it’s an infection, for instance, it may cause swelling in only one side of the cheek.

Clicking of the jaw

Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD is something which stems from issues with the jaw muscles, or the temporomandibular joints. It’s a condition which mostly affects women, but anyone of any age or gender can experience jaw popping, which may be the end result of grinding teeth, as well as chewing gum to an excessive degree.

Cracked or broken teeth

A cracked tooth can result from chewing on hard or brittle food, grinding your teeth while you sleep, and can even occur as a natural by-product of ageing. It’s a common condition and the leading cause of tooth loss. Cracks can be repaired, but unlike broken bones, a cracked tooth will never be 100% healed. Prompt treatment offers the best chance to save your tooth and prevent infection and further damage. 

Frequent dry mouth

Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva, which is produced by hundreds of minor and major saliva glands around your mouth. Saliva helps your mouth stay healthy by washing away food, strengthening your enamel with minerals, and preventing cavities and gum disease. Poor oral hygiene and a sugary diet tend to cause tooth decay, with dry mouth causing a unique kind of tooth decay starting along the gum line.

By Dr. Gautam Herle