- Though not everyone likes going to the dentist, you do it for the health of your teeth.
- But some people only go at the first bout of severe pain, and even then it’s like pulling teeth.
- Your body might be telling you to go to the dentist sooner without you even realizing it.
- If you are experiencing any sort of pain in your mouth, get frequent headaches, or have a bad taste in your mouth, these could all be signs you need to go to the dentist as soon as possible.
- Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.
Although it’s important, many people are guilty of putting off going to the dentist. In a recent poll, 58% of Americans say they visit the dentist at least once a year. Despite your procrastination, your body could be telling you that you need to go now, and you might not even notice the warning signs.
INSIDER spoke to several dental health experts to find out what indicators you should look for that could suggest a prompt visit to the dentist.
Your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or sugary foods
If you’re noticing sensitivity to cold, hot, or sugary foods, it could mean that you have a cavity, according to Dr. Nana Dickson, Dentistry.com’s dental health expert. But this sensitivity could also be a sign of something more serious, she explained.
“Very often, patients come in and they have extreme sensitivity to hot and cold foods. And after I do an exam, I can’t find a single cavity. But what is causing all of their sensitivity is root exposure and gum recession,” Dr. Dickson told INSIDER.
The treatment for this can vary from something conservative like switching toothpastes, Dr. Dickson told INSIDER, to something more invasive like gum graft treatment, a dental surgery.
You have chronic bad breath
Otherwise known as halitosis, bad breath may not be caused by your brushing habits or lack thereof, according to Steven D. Spitz, DMD, Prosthodontist, Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry. It can actually be the first sign of an infection or other dental issues that only your dentist will be able to pinpoint, he said.
You feel a bump or rough surface in your mouth, tongue, or cheek
“If you feel a bump, rough surface, or cut in your mouth that isn’t healing, it could be HPV or oral cancer,” Dr. Spitz told INSIDER.
Note, you don’t have to be a smoker or feel pain to have a serious issue. Making your way to the dentist as soon as possible is imperative, according to Dr. Spitz.
Your teeth are discolored
“Discoloration of a tooth could lead to a myriad of issues in your mouth. It is usually indicative of a tooth that has been injured and could lead to an infection,” Dr. Spitz said.
The solution to this problem can vary. Root canal treatment or even the removal of a tooth may be necessary, Dr. Spitz explained.
Your gums bleed when brushing or flossing
If your gums are bleeding during brushing or flossing, it could mean you have gum disease, according to Dr. Spitz, and it’s important to get it checked out.
“The periodontal ‘plaque’ that causes irritation in one’s mouth is the same plaque that is found in arteries throughout the body and can lead to heart issues,” Dr. Spitz told INSIDER. “If you would be concerned with a cut on your arm that never stopped bleeding, why would it be okay if your gums are continually bleeding?”
You’re experiencing pain in your teeth, mouth, and jaw
“Pain is your body’s first warning sign that something is wrong. If you have pain in any area of your mouth, or you wake up and your jaw is continuously sore, it can be a direct sign to see your dentist,” Dr. Spitz said. “Even minimal pain and soreness can lead to major issues.”
You could have a cavity, receding gums, or a broken tooth, but there’s no way to know without a dentist diagnosing it, Dr. Dickson said.
Your jaw hurts
Jaw pain can be caused by a myriad of different factors, according to Dr. Dickson. Impacted wisdom teeth is a common one, but something more serious could be happening, she explained, such as a growing tumor or cancer.
A dental x-ray and evaluation can get down to ruling out what it really could be, Dr. Dickson told INSIDER.
You get frequent headaches
“People who clench and grind at night (called bruxing) can put so much force on their teeth and jaws muscles, especially the masseter and temporalis muscles, that it can cause headaches,” Dr. Dickson said.
To remedy this, a custom fitted night guard can help to address and eliminate your nasty nighttime habit, Dr. Dickson explained.
Your teeth look shorter
Another warning sign of grinding can show up in teeth’s appearance, according to Dr. Spitz.
“If you find yourself looking in the mirror and realize your teeth are not showing up as big as they used to look, it could be a result of grinding your teeth,” Dr. Spitz said.
Grinding your teeth leads to breaking down the stronger enamel in your mouth and it leaves your teeth vulnerable to cavities, exposed nerves, and other health issues, Dr. Spitz explained.
You have a bad taste in your mouth
A bad taste in your mouth can be due to abscess, a pocket of pus caused by infection, that’s formed in your mouth, according to Dr. Dickson. As a result, you’re tasting the pus as it seeps into your mouth, she explained.
“Getting down to the root of the problem is important because you don’t want to let an infection fester,” Dr. Dickson told INSIDER.
It’s been a while since you’ve visited the dentist
If you haven’t seen your dentist in more than six months or have dental benefits that you haven’t used, you should head in for a cleaning, especially going into the spring, Dr. Spitz recommended.
“You’re spring cleaning your home, you should spring clean your mouth too – possibly get a whitening as well,” Dr. Spitz told INSIDER.