When should a dental visit become a priority? Many individuals reply, “when I have a tooth ache”. Even worse, some avoid a trip to the dentist unless the pain is severe. However, there are many other situations when you should see the dentist.
Our dentists listed 10 situations when a dental visit may be helpful.
The most obvious reason for a dental visit is a tooth ache. Common causes of tooth pain are cavities/decay, a crack or fracture, failing fillings or restorations, inflamed gums, or teeth grinding. However, there are some warning signs that may help you to minimise the damage to your teeth.
If you experience pain while biting, a sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks, or feel a dull pain, you should consult a dentist. Even if the pain comes and goes, there is an underlying cause that should be addressed. It is a good idea to solve the problem early to avoid further pain or damage to your teeth.
Preventative dental visits are important to detect problems early. The ADA (Australian Dental Association) recommends 6-monthly dental visits. During these visits, your dentist or oral health therapist will perform a check-up and clean including a scale, x-rays (if necessary) and fluoride.
The dentist performing the check-up will check your teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth for any abnormalities. During the clean, the dentist or therapist will remove any built-up plaque that you toothbrush alone cannot remove. This helps to prevent the plaque from turning into tooth decay.
Find out more about why it is important to see the dentist regularly.
Broken or chipped tooth
Our teeth are strong but they can still fracture or break. This often happens due to an accident or injury but it can also be caused by biting into something hard or by cavities. If your tooth chips, cracks or breaks, it may not hurt instantly.
However, it is very important to see a dentist as soon as possible to assess the situation. Your dentist also might be able to save the tooth. You can read more about what to do when you knocked out a tooth.
Swollen, red or bleeding gums
Bacteria in the mouth does not only cause plaque to form on teeth but it can also cause an inflammation of the gums. If you don not remove bacteria with regular brushing and flossing routines, it can build up. This can result in swollen, red, or bleeding gums.
Several factors such as your brushing and flossing technique, smoking, medication, nutrition or gum disease can influence the state of your gums. If you experience soreness around your gums, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist to investigate the underlying cause.
Find out more about why your gums may bleeding.
Sensitivity of teeth
Our teeth can become hypersensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks when their protective layer, the enamel, is damaged or worn down. If the tooth’s internal nerves are exposed and unprotected, a sharp pain may arise when temperature travels into the tooth.
A trip to the dentist can help to identify any underlying causes for your sensitive teeth. Our Coastal Dental Care dentists have also put 10 Top Tips together on how to improve sensitive teeth.
Losing a tooth can be a painful experience. However, as we are getting older, our teeth age with us. They can become loose, worn down, or fall out. A dentist can often replace a missing tooth. Depending on the case and cause of tooth loss, your dentist may be able to reattach the tooth. If this is not an option, the missing tooth might be replaced by a dental implant, a denture, or a dental bridge. The decision whether to replace a missing tooth can be influenced by factors such as:
- Appearance of your smile
- Influence of the missing tooth on the bite and bone density and your jaw
- Ability to chew and speak
Jaw pain and constant headaches
Constant jaw pain and headaches can be an indicator for a condition pertaining to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or surrounding facial muscles. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. It is a hinge joint that is used when we chew, eat, or talk.
There are various factors that cause a temporomandibular disorder. Learn more about the treatment of TMJ/TMD disorder.
During your next visit, mention your jaw issues to your dentist.
The medical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. It can occur in the form of involuntarily clenching, grinding or gnashing the teeth. Bruxism often occurs during sleep and leaves the patient with a sore or stiff jaw.
Dentists can help you monitor your teeth grinding habits and give you several treatment options depending on the cause. If your child suffers from teeth grinding, you can read more about teeth grinding in children in our blog.
Snoring and gasping during sleep
If you snore while you are asleep or wake up frequently during the night. Or perhaps you make gasping or choking sounds while sleeping, you may suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common issue that occurs when your upper airway in the nose or throat is blocked. This obstructs the air flow to the lungs which can stop you from breathing for 10 seconds or longer while you are asleep. This then triggers your brain because it lacks oxygen and it wakes you up.
If you are concerned that you have sleep apnea, the first step is to conduct a sleep study completed by a registered Sleep Physician. Depending on the result of the study, your dentist may be able to assist you with further treatment such as an oral appliance (splint).
When you are pregnant, your hormones fluctuate more than usual. This can make you more susceptible to bleeding gums, gum disease, and the build-up of plaque. Your dentist will be able to assist you with your oral hygiene during pregnancy to ensure your oral health stays on track.