Most people know they should visit the dentist twice a year for regular teeth cleaning exams. These twice yearly visits help your dentist keep your teeth clean as well as helps them find, treat or prevent oral health problems. It is a lot easier to monitor or treat oral health issues when they are minor and when your dentist is familiar with your oral health history.
These reasons make it important to visit your dentist on a regular basis, but what are some other signs it might be time to see the dentist?
Signs You Need to Visit the Dentist
Here are eight signs that indicate it’s time for you to see your dentist!
1. Tooth pain or swelling
If you’ve had a toothache before, you know how miserable trying to “wait it out” is. In fact, sharp tooth pains or continuous toothaches are often signs of a deeper problem and typically, the pain only gets worse if it is left untreated.
If you have any swelling in your cheeks or around the area that hurts, this is likely a sign of an infection in the root, which requires treatment from your dentist. You may be prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection first. This step usually helps ease the pain a bit, but full treatment of the infected and dying root will be necessary to prevent further infection and pain.
2. Swollen, sore or inflamed gums
If you are not already receiving gum disease treatment from your dentist, swollen, sore or red gums mean you have gum disease. Mild forms of gum disease are often treatable and reversible with extra attention to your oral hygiene at home and regular dental visits. But severe gum disease requires extra treatment from your dentist. Infection, bacteria and plaque can build below the gumline, and you’ll need professional deep cleaning and scaling appointments to restore your gum health.
3. Injury to the mouth
If you’ve had any sort of injury or trauma to your mouth, you’ll want to see your dentist, whether it feels like a dental emergency or not. Trauma to the teeth can sometimes cause damage to the root so it’s important to see your dentist so they can monitor the injured area.
4. White spots on your teeth or gums
White spots on your teeth are one of the first signs of decay. Check with your dentist if you notice a spot. Catching it early can help prevent cavities.
White spots on your gums are a sure sign of infection. Patients who have an infection in the root of their tooth might not yet be experiencing pain from the infection, but they could notice a “pimple” on their gums. Don’t pop or scrape at this spot. Instead, see your dentist right away.
5. Canker sores
Canker sores in the mouth are tiny ulcers that can affect the gums, inside of the lips and cheeks, the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Some patients may only get one or two in their lifetime, typically due to some sort of irritant or accidentally biting their lip or cheek. Most canker sores will heal in a week, especially if you keep the area around the sore as clean as possible.
But other patients can get severe canker sores that don’t heal or that recur often. This could be due to a number of factors, including stress, food allergies, hormonal shifts or immunity issues. If you have canker sores that are not healing after a week, or seem to be “spreading” see your dentist right away.
6. Sensitivity to hot and cold
Some patients naturally have more sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is typically treated with a sensitivity toothpaste. But if you’re experiencing extreme sensitivity to hot and cold (especially if it is sudden or unusual for you), this could indicate a deeper issue. Schedule a visit if you’re experiencing this type of sensitivity.
7. Dry mouth
Patients who take a number of antibiotics or are experiencing other health issues may experience dry mouth as a side effect. While dry mouth might not seem like a pressing issue, it can be quite miserable for those who experience it chronically. Plus, chronic dry mouth can lead to other problems, like gum disease. Your dentist may be able to recommend treatment or prescribe special mouthwashes to help mitigate dry mouth.
8. Headaches or soreness from grinding teeth
If you wake up in the morning with a headache or neck pain, or find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth throughout the day, you should see your dentist. You might have issues with your temporomandibular joints, or TMJ. TMJ treatment is best handled by a dentist, who can help recommend exercises, stress relief tactics or even devices you can wear at night to ease your symptoms.
There are many other reasons to visit your dentist outside of your regular checkup. Perhaps you’d like to whiten your teeth or make a cosmetic change. Or maybe you just feel like something is “off” with your oral health. Your dentist will be happy to see you and help you achieve your best, most healthful smile.
Remember: The above information should be used as general guidelines and should not be substituted for medical advice. If you have questions about your oral health, you should contact our skilled dentists right away for a dental exam.
Professional Dentistry in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to help Central Ohio patients achieve their healthiest smiles. If you are suffering from any of the issues listed above, our professional dentists can help restore you to your best oral health. Contact us to schedule your next visit!