Something amiss with your teeth or gums? Here’s how you can tell if it’s time to see the dentist.

It’s safe to say at some point we all experience dental problems with our teeth or gums.

Maybe you wake up with a toothache or you see that your gums look red while flossing. Perhaps you’ve noticed your breath has been less-than-fresh lately. Whatever the case may be, chances are you’re wondering what is going on and whether or not you should schedule a dental appointment about it.

We always encourage patients to book a visit if they have an issue, but we also understand that some patients may want to do a little research themselves as well.

5 Types of Dental Problems and What You Should Do About Them

We see patients for a wide variety of different dental problems on a daily basis, but we’ve found that these 5 types of dental issues are the most common.

1. Toothaches

Toothaches are easily the most popular reason for a dental appointment. They can range from an annoying itchy feeling to a full-blown “I want to rip my tooth out” level of pain.

All toothaches require a dental visit. Moderate to severe pain is an emergency situation. For a minor ache, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication until you can get in to see the dentist.

2. Bleeding or Tender Gums

If you notice your gums feel tender while brushing and flossing or even bleed a bit, you could have the beginning stages of gum disease or gingivitis. Gums that are bleeding significantly, feeling painful, and are swollen need to be checked out by a dentist right away.

If you don’t have any pain or only mild tenderness or very slight bleeding while flossing or brushing, you may be able to wait until your next routine dental appointment (i.e. a cleaning).

3. Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity can feel like a toothache but differs in that it usually happens right after exposing your teeth to something hot or cold. It is often caused by worn enamel or some type of tooth damage, such as a small cavity.

If your tooth sensitivity is mild, such as a slight pain that disappears in seconds, you likely don’t have an emergency. However, you still need to bring up this problem to your dentist during your next appointment. Painful tooth sensitivity should be treated as seriously as a toothache.

4. Bad Breath

Bad breath isn’t just about vanity. It may be linked to untreated tooth decay or untreated gum disease. A metallic smell to your breath may even be your body telling you that you have a more serious health condition, such as a kidney issue.

A sudden, drastic change in your breath should be evaluated by a dentist or other healthcare provider. For a mild case of bad breath, be sure you’re following through with proper at-home care and mention it to your dentist during your next appointment.

5. A Chipped or Damaged Tooth

Chips, cracks, and even breaks happen. A very minor chip on the edge of a tooth may only be a cosmetic concern, but a larger chip, crack, and any other type of damage definitely requires a dental appointment. In fact, even what you might believe is a small chip could be large enough to affect tooth health.

Some dental problems are more serious than others, but a good rule of thumb to follow is if something unusual is happening, you should always speak with your dentist about it.

Tooth Pain and What Your Body Might Be Trying to Tell You

Toothaches are actually a symptom of a bigger problem and not standalone disorder or disease, so to speak. This means that when you’re experiencing a toothache, your body is simply trying to tell you that something is wrong.

Although toothaches are in our top 5 list, it’s worth learning what a specific type of pain may mean so you can have an idea of what your body is saying.

  • Tooth sensitivity often results in a sharp, jabbing pain when your teeth are exposed to something hot or cold. Usually, this pain only lasts for a few minutes.
  • Untreated tooth decay can cause a variety of different pain types, from a sharp pain to a dull ache.
  • A cracked or broken tooth can lead to extreme throbbing pain, especially when a damaged tooth is also decayed and infected.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth can cause dull pain in the back of the mouth and jaw. You might even feel pain through your gums in this area as the teeth struggle to erupt.

It’s important to keep in mind that a symptom disappearing doesn’t mean the underlying problem is gone. A dental evaluation is still highly recommended if your toothache fades after a while or comes and goes.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you need emergency dental care right away.

Waiting to get dental treatment is never advised, and in the event of a true dental emergency postponing care could even lead to a life or death situation.

Sepsis, often referred to as blood poisoning, is the result of an untreated infection causing your immune system to overreact and attack itself. Sepsis is an extremely serious condition and is five times as fatal as a heart attack or stroke. Though it isn’t necessarily a common condition, statistics show that dental-related sepsis cases have risen by 40% over the last decade.

If you’re experiencing extreme tooth pain combined with the following:

  • Facial swelling, especially around the jaw
  • Bleeding, swollen, or painful gums
  • High fever and chills
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Headaches and nausea
  • Fatigue and dizziness

You need to get in touch with your dentist immediately as these are all signs of a severe infection. If your dentist is unavailable, a trip to the emergency room is absolutely warranted as you need treatment for the infection to begin as soon as possible.

Schedule treatment for your dental problems by calling Tory Hill Dental.

Whether you’re experiencing a serious dental emergency or you need advice on whether your dental issue requires an appointment, we encourage you to give our office a call. Due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders in Maine, Dr. Fenn and the Tory Hill team are only available for urgent dental care needs currently.

For questions regarding a mild dental issue you’re experiencing, call our office number and leave a message. We will get back to you as soon as possible and help you determine if your issue is an emergency. If we determine your issue isn’t an emergency, we will help you figure out an at-home treatment plan to get you through until we can schedule a non-urgent appointment.

If you’re experiencing a true dental emergency, especially symptoms of an infection, please call our office number, press 2, and you will be forwarded directly to Dr. Fenn.