Patients frequently ask us what signs or symptoms they need to be aware of, to know when to come to the dentist. Here is a list of the most common reasons to give us a call right away:
- Mouth sores, growths or changes that are not going away
- Jaw pain
- Swelling in the face or gums
- Worsening tooth sensitivity, especially if isolated to a specific tooth
- Broken tooth
- Bad odor or taste in your mouth, especially if coming from under a filling or crown
- Toothache, especially if pain is severe, constant, or throbs.
This is just a short list- obviously call us if you are unsure of your symptoms.
What is often most surprising to patients, however, is that many serious tooth and gum issues have no symptoms at all. Often the only way to identify decay in certain areas of teeth (in between teeth, in deep grooves) is with a dental exam and/or dental X-rays. Patients are often shocked after I tell them they have a deep cavity showing up on an X-ray. A common response is, “I don’t understand. I’m not having any sensitivity or pain.” In fact, pain or sensitivity is often not felt until the cavity is so deep into the tooth it has reached the nerve. At that point, root canal treatment or extraction of the tooth are usually the only options.
Additionally, periodontitis (gum disease which can eventually cause tooth loss) typically has no pain at all. In some cases, patients notice their gums bleed when they brush. Others may notice no bleeding at all. With lack of dental care, often the first sign of periodontitis that patients experience is when their teeth start to loosen, at which point the prognosis for the teeth may be poor.
Prevention is always the key: fixing small issues before they become larger issues. Certainly, call if there are any early signs of dental trouble, but also know there are often no signs at all!
Note: During the Covid-19 closure, treatment on some of the above listed problems may need to be delayed until dental offices across the state reopen.