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9 Signs You Need to See Your Dentist

When life gets busy (and when doesn’t it?), it can be easy to ignore the notices of “It’s been 6 months since your last dental appointment.”

Yet doing this on a regular basis can add up to big problems for your smile, not to mention your bank account. Unlike other aches and pains in the body that sometimes go away on their own, tooth problems – whether it’s sensitivity or a suspected cavity – only get worse with time.

So don’t procrastinate another day. If you’re experiencing any of these 9 oral health problems, take it as a sign that you need to see your dentist, ASAP, and make an appointment today.

1. You wake up with jaw pain or headaches

You’d love to be one of those people who springs out of bed, well rested and ready to take on the day. But let’s be honest: when you wake up with jaw pain and a pounding headache, it’s hard to be your best self.

These conditions are often caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) or tooth grinding (bruxism), which can wear away the enamel and/or cause cracks in the teeth, creating even bigger – and more expensive – dental problems. The solution can be as simple as wearing a custom mouth guard during the night, which your dentist can have custom made for you.

2. Your mouth is dry all the time

It sounds harmless enough on the surface (what’s the big deal about a little less saliva?), but a chronic dry mouth can be one of the worst conditions for your smile. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which help protect the teeth from acid attacks after we eat or drink. Without enough saliva, our teeth are much more susceptible to cavities and decay.

Saliva is also rich in oxygen to fight the production of Volatile Sulfur Compounds, the molecules responsible for bad breath. Some dry mouth cases become so severe that dentures are needed at a very early age because of the amount of decay.

3. Your breath is bad even after brushing

Halitosis (chronic bad breath) can become so debilitating that many people find themselves socially withdrawing and just hunkering down at home. There are many reasons your breath can be bad after brushing: sinusitis, tonsil stones, untreated cavities, not flossing, and even the oral health products you use. Bacteria planted on the way back of the tongue is also a major cause of persistent bad breath. (Problem solved with a tongue scraper.) To get to the root cause of your bad breath after brushing, get in to see your dentist.

4. Your gums bleed when you brush or floss

Healthy gums should not bleed at all when you brush or floss. If you see red when doing these activities, it’s time to get in to see your hygienist for a teeth cleaning. Bleeding gums are often the first sign of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and is caused by poor oral hygiene. The good news? Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is easily reversed with good oral care.

Did you know? Brushing your teeth harder won’t make them cleaner. Brushing too hard can inflame your already sore gums and wear away the enamel from your teeth, making you more prone to cavities and tooth sensitivity. Once your enamel is gone, it’s gone forever, so practice the art of gentle, soft brushing with a low-abrasion toothpaste and avoid medium or hard-bristled brushes.

5. You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s especially important to get in to the dentist, as diabetics require more frequent dental care and, oftentimes, unique treatment plans to help control bacteria in the mouth and halitosis. Dental disease can make diabetes symptoms worse and vice versa. In fact, periodontal disease (the most advanced form of gum disease) affects one in three diabetics.

6. You have tooth pain that occurs randomly or when you bite down

There’s nothing that hurts quite like tooth pain (although stubbed toes can certainly hold their own in this department). A crack in your tooth, a loose or broken crown, untreated cavities, and tooth infections can all cause pain that’s especially bad when you try to chew. Don’t let the pain, which can feel dull, aching or stabbing, go untreated. It will only get worse and begin to severely interfere with your sleep and quality of life.

7. You have a metallic taste in your mouth

Does it often taste like you’ve been munching on metal? If you’re otherwise healthy, gum or tooth infections are the likely culprit behind that foul taste in your mouth. Other common causes of metal taste in the mouth include sinus infections, certain prescription drugs, or over-the-counter multivitamins that have heavy metals, such as zinc supplements.

8. Your teeth are changing color

We all know what a yellow hue means – our teeth are getting stained, and we need the magic of a hygienist to remove our plaque and tartar buildup. But what about other types of discoloration? If you notice dark spots on your teeth, that usually means your decay is severe. This discoloration could be from acid that has created a hole in your tooth (cavity). If you notice dark staining around your fillings or crowns, that can signal a buildup of bacteria or even a crack in your tooth or dental work. Either way, if your teeth are dark in color, you’ll want to see the dentist, asap.

9. Your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold

Are sensitive teeth keeping you from enjoying that ice-cold glass of lemonade or soothing cup of chamomile tea? Sometimes, just being outdoors and breathing in the cold winter air can trigger unbearable tooth pain. If you’re tired of dealing with tooth sensitivity, be sure to visit the dentist to get to the root cause of your tooth pain.


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