Open up and say, “Ah.” That’s how a dentist sometimes starts a visit. They aren’t trying to make you feel awkward. They are getting a sense of how healthy you are by taking a look in your mouth. You don’t have to wait until your next visit. Your body talks, and when it does, you need to listen. Listen to what your mouth is trying to tell you. Learn more about actively listening to your mouth below.
A Prevailing Sore
Mouth sores can be common, especially during the winter months. However, if you discover that a mouth sore, lump, or red pale patch on your tongue or cheek is lasting for weeks without signs of healing, you should seek the assistance of your dentist. In some cases, it could mean an early sign of oral cancer. Early prevention facilitates a better chance of a quick recovery. Ask your dentist about doing a cancer screening the next time you’re there for a checkup. You can also learn how to do a self-screening at home. All it takes is good lighting and a mirror.
Intense Pain or Swelling
Pay attention to persistent pain and swelling or unexplained puffiness inside of your mouth. It could be the sign of an infection, gum decay, gum disease, or a cracked tooth. Ignoring the pain and swelling will only worsen symptoms and could lead to the loss of teeth, which could be painful and very expensive. Another red flag is if the pain in unbearable to the point of losing sleep. If you can’t fall asleep due to pain, head to the doctor’s office.
A Nasty Taste or Foul Breath
Bad breath is never a good thing, but most times it is explainable – you had a sandwich with onion for lunch or a few cups of coffee with breakfast. However, it could also mean that you are not properly looking after your gums and teeth, and there’s a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. Bad breath could signal gastric issues as well as gum disease, sinusitis, throat infections, or tooth decay. A bad taste in your mouth could indicate an oral infection. Unfortunately, it is hard to assess our own breath, so if someone makes a comment yet you have been staying away from onions and coffee, take the observation in stride and consider contacting your dentist.
A Loose Tooth
A tooth that is ready to come out is not out of the ordinary for a small child, but as an adult, a loose tooth is a point of concern. The leading cause of tooth loss is gum disease. Since gum or periodontal disease can cause tooth loss, it’s important to get your oral health in order. A loose tooth can also be the sign of oral cancer.
A Crowded Mouth
Wisdom teeth are described as another set of molars. When there isn’t enough space in the back of your mouth, wisdom teeth can become impacted and cause a lot of pain. It’s common and may have no precluding symptoms. If your teeth feel tender and swelling occurs, you may need to get your wisdom teeth extracted. Furthermore, impacted teeth can attract a buildup of plaque and debris, and in some cases, create a shift in the alignment of your teeth.
White Spots on Teeth
Dental decay is an infection of the tooth. It begins with the enamel with the bacteria eventually eating away at the tooth, decaying it. The first signs of decay are white spots. Decay mostly occurs between the teeth, and a lot of patients are not aware of the early stages. That’s why checkups and X-rays are so important. If you can stop the decay early, you’ll avoid the development of a cavity that requires a filling. Head to Guardian Life Dental to learn more about affordable dental insurance.
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease. It is an inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is a more advanced form, which leads to the loss of teeth when untreated. Both are caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can form on a clean tooth. Plaque hardens into tartar and the tartar can accumulate under the gum line, causing inflammation.
Sensitivity to Hot or Cold
Once decay moves through a tooth’s enamel it finds the nerves and blood vessels. Such a trajectory results in a sensitivity to hotness and coldness. Sensitivity could also be an indication of tooth grinding, which occurs as a habit during the day or while we sleep. If you’re experiencing sensitivity, bring it to the attention of your dentist.
Rachel Bailey works in public health and is always willing to share her insights on issues like oral hygiene with an online audience. She is a frequent contributor for a number of health-related websites.