Dental Issues To Never Ignore
On the heels of National Dentist’s Day, we figured it would be a good time to talk about some oral health issues many people often face, but few report to their oral health professional. I’ve noticed a trend amongst adults to not take their oral health as seriously as they do the rest of their health. They’ll make that yearly physical appointment with their regular doctor. Women will go in for their annual Well Woman’s Exam. We don’t really need more than one gentle reminder to go in for those. Meanwhile, dentists have to send countless notes and reminders, urging us to come in for a visit. It’s probably frustrating for them that we don’t take oral health as seriously as they know that it is. In honor of National Dentist Day, here are oral health issues you shouldn’t ignore.
Nobody feels like making out first thing in the morning, but does your partner refuse to even give you a little peck when you wake up? Do you have to cover your mouth, should you run into someone on your morning walk with the dog, before brushing your teeth? Persistent and unbearable bad breath shouldn’t just be treated with a mint.
It could be Gingivitis
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth, causing the surrounding tissue to become inflamed. Several factors put one at risk like smoking, a vitamin C deficiency, poorly fitting dental restorations and—of course—poor oral hygiene.
Maybe you make a point to run floss through your gums a couple times a week. You only get around to it when you realize, “Whoops! It’s been a while!” When you do, you spit out quite a bit of blood. Your partner comes into the restroom, asking if there’s been a mini murder in the sink.
It could be gum disease
Bleeding gums can certainly be a sign of gum disease. Bleeding gums occur when you haven’t been doing a good job removing plaque, both through your own home-care, and through regular teeth cleanings with your dentist.
Pain with hot or cold items
Could you nearly scream when you sip on a cup of hot tea or enjoy a cold popsicle? While a little sensitivity to extreme temperature in the mouth is normal, you shouldn’t have to avoid treats like ice cream and hot coffee due to the pain.
It may be enamel erosion
That pain may be due to enamel erosion, which means those hot and cold foods make nearly direct contact with your nerves. Now that’s painful. Enamel erosion also makes you more susceptible to cavities. It’s often caused by acidic foods, like soda and lemon juice—just some of the items your dentist wishes you wouldn’t consume.
If your favorite bar trick is showing friends how loose your tooth is, it may be time to find a new way to entertain people. There’s nothing funny about this problem.
It could be several issues
A loose tooth could be a sign of long-term, untreated gum disease, which research has currently linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Loose teeth can also be a sign of a serious oral infection, or even an autoimmune disease called scleroderma, which leads to chronic tightening of connective tissue.
Is your tooth hurting so much it keeps you up at night? Do you spend time every day with a hot or cold compress on the side of your face, to ease the pain? It’s probably time to see a dentist.
It’s decay or something worse
Unbearable toothaches can be a sign of tooth decay, which will put you at risk for gum disease and cavities. However, sometimes it’s just pain from something else being redirected to your teeth. Sometimes that could be migraines, but in other cases it could be something more serious like angina—a symptom of heart disease.
A sour taste
Does your mouth always taste like you recently ate something sour when you know you didn’t? Maybe you have to go over the day’s meals, wondering if you had apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and just forgot.
The problem could start in your stomach
A persistently sour mouth could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or as many call it acid reflux disease. This condition sends stomach acid up into your mouth, which can cause enamel decay over time.
A dry mouth may not seem that serious. It’s a little annoying, but perhaps you just treat it by keeping water by your side all day long. However, you’d be surprised what damage chronic dry mouth can do.
It’s another risk of tooth decay
Dry mouth is a common side effect of medications. It also just happens naturally as you get older, since your body produces less saliva. Unfortunately, your teeth need saliva to protect enamel, and without enough of it, you can suffer tooth decay.
When you run your tongue along the inside of your mouth, do you find little raw spots that sting and burn? If you eat a lot of sour foods, you may just think these are the resulting canker sores, but they could be something else.
From retainers to cancer
If you wear any device in your mouth regularly—like a retainer, or mouth guard for TMJ—it’s possible that it doesn’t fit right, and is cutting up your mouth. That’s something a dentist can identify and an orthodontist can fix. Sometimes—but rarely—mouth sores can be a sign of mouth cancer.