The annual dental checkup is vital to maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. It provides a baseline for your dentist to monitor your oral health. The annual checkup also serves as a time for screening for possible dental and oral problems. When problems are identified early in the process, they can be minimized and often eliminated. Early detection and treatment save you time and money in the long run. Unfortunately, dental issues can still show up between annual visits and some of them require immediate attention.
In general, most situations that will end in mouth pain would normally be discovered during your dental checkup. During that visit, your dentist is looking for cavities and gingivitis, or gum disease. An oral cancer screening is often given at these visits also, covering all the bases for mouth problems. Still, problems can arise between visits.
If you experience pain in your mouth, you should make an appointment to see your dentist. There are a number of causes for pain in the mouth, especially if you have not been to see a dentist for a while. Dental decay is a common reason an individual may experience pain, but it is not the only one.
You may have sores in your mouth that can cause discomfort. Sores can develop from irritation from dental appliances such as braces or dentures. You may have a tooth with a sharp edge or a broken tooth that is causing irritation. A trip to the dentist can eliminate the problem.
Cracked or Broken Tooth
If you enjoy chewing hard objects, you may be increasing your risk for breaking or cracking a tooth. Chewing ice, using your teeth as an opener or clenching or grinding your teeth can lead to tooth damage. You may not even notice that you have damaged a tooth until you feel sensitivity to the temperature of foods and beverages, or your tooth hurts when you bite down.
The tooth may seem a slightly sensitive to hot and cold at first. You may be tempted to ignore the signs, if the discomfort is not great. Neglecting to have your tooth examined right away can lead to further damage. If a tooth is cracked, in may be salvageable, if the crack does not extend below the gum line.
If you do not have the tooth repaired, you risk the chance of the crack going deeper. Additionally, a cracked or broken tooth also exposes it to increased possibility of decay. Harmful bacteria can enter the crack and start the decay process below the surface of the tooth. Over time, if not treated, the decay will eventually attack the pulp of the tooth. This is where the blood vessels and nerves reside, bringing nourishment to the tooth.
When the nerve center of the tooth is attacked, the nerves begin to die and the resultant swelling and infection can create an abscess.
Besides being excruciatingly painful for most people, an abscessed tooth can pose a very real danger to your overall health. The abscess is created when infection proliferates and pus forms, filling a pocket in the gums. The process of infection can cause the surrounding bone to dissolve; but the real threat is in the bacteria contained in the infection.
Once an abscess has formed, it needs medical attention. It could rupture, causing a decrease in pain, but you still need to see the dentist. If it does not rupture, the infection could spread out into the jaw. It may even spread to other parts of your head and be carried by the bloodstream to other parts of your body.
Some individuals have developed sepsis from not treating an infected tooth. Sepsis is a life threatening infection that spreads throughout your entire body and can result in death. Individuals who also have an immune system that has been weakened are even more likely to experience widespread infection.
Such life-threatening problems can easily be avoided. If you experience tooth pain or discomfort, make an appointment to see your dentist. A quick examination of the infected tooth and treatment could save your tooth and your life.
Clenching and Bruxism
There is much to be stressed about in the world these days. Many people are unconsciously clenching and/or grinding their teeth as they navigate problematic situations on a regular basis. Even temporary stress can lead to problems with your teeth and jaw muscles, if you clench and grind your teeth.
Teeth grinding or bruxism happens during your sleep, and you may not be aware of the problem unless your bed partner complains of the noise. Jaw pain is one of the many symptoms that indicate a possible issue with bruxism. Headaches and referred pain in the face, neck and shoulders are other symptoms.
Chronic bruxism can cause erosion of the tooth enamel, leaving affected teeth more vulnerable to decay. Additionally, the excess pressure exerted while grinding your teeth can lead to a cracked or broken tooth. Hundreds of pounds of pressure are put on your molars normally with chewing your food. Extra pressure is added when grinding your teeth against each other and when clenching your teeth.
A custom-made nightguard can help with bruxism. The nightguard holds your teeth in a certain position and prevents the upper and lower teeth from coming in contact with each other. This dental appliance can help save your teeth and eliminate the pain caused by unchecked bruxism.
Puffy, red or swollen gums indicate a problem. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you should make an appointment to see your dentist. Early stages of gingivitis manifest in this way. You can stop gum disease in its tracks by addressing the issue when it first appears.
In many cases, gum disease begins as a result of poor oral hygiene. Not brushing your teeth or brushing incorrectly and not flossing can lead to gingivitis. The remedy begins with a good professional cleaning. Your dentist or hygienist can show you the proper way to brush and floss. Early intervention can resolve the problem quickly. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend a special toothpaste or mouthwash to use during the healing process.
Problems with gums are not always the result of lack of oral hygiene. Females can have problems during hormone fluctuations. Some medications can cause the gums to get puffy and bleed. There are also some health conditions that will affect your gums. If you notice a change in the health of your gums, make a call to your dentist to address the issue.
An annual checkup is crucial in maintaining your best oral health, but you may have dental problems between checkups. Even if the problem seems small, go ahead and make an appointment to have an examination. Early intervention for problems is the least expensive, most efficient way to handle them. Waiting can cost you in time, expense and comfort. Keep your smile looking its best and at its healthiest by addressing dental issues before they have a chance to develop into serious problems.
When you need dental care or want a second opinion about a dental matter, make an appointment with Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta. We are here to help you maintain a beautiful and healthy smile.