Whether it's traces of crimson on your toothbrush or that nagging sensitivity that seems never to go away, it's easy to neglect your oral health. After all, no one wants to listen to the dentist tell them about all the things they're doing wrong, and few among us enjoy the endless drilling and scraping of a dental visit. The good news is that dentists have come a long way and it's now possible to find a sensitive, caring, and highly gentle dentist, no matter how long it's been since your last appointment. If you're overdue for a dental checkup, don't ignore these important dental health clues.
1. Oral Pain
A toothache is hard to ignore, but people can adjust to even the worst pain. It's normal to get a toothache every once in a while. Inflammation, grinding your teeth, or even food stuck between your teeth can cause pain. But if the oral pain is unrelenting, there could be a dangerous infection brewing in your mouth.
2. Swelling and Abscesses
If any part of your mouth sweets, seeps puss or is tender to the touch, you need prompt medical attention. Oral infections are highly treatable, even when they're very painful. Left untreated, though, an infection in your mouth can spread to your bloodstream, leading to sepsis or infecting your brain or other organs.
3. Changes in Gums
Your gums are a lot like your fingerprints; everyone's gums look and behave a bit differently. Some people experience bleeding every time they brush. Some of us have red or pinkish gums while others tend toward white. If your gums begin doing something they didn't do before—bleeding, swelling—it's time to seek medical attention. And if your gums are painful, it's a sure sign something's gone awry.
4. Frequent Cavities
It's normal to get a cavity every now and again, and some people are more vulnerable to tooth decay due to genetics, biochemistry, or lifestyle. But if you get cavities a lot and can't figure out why, something else could be going on. Lots of cavities suggest there's an issue with how your body is processing sugar, which could signal diabetes. Excessive cavities may also mean you're having immune system difficulties, so don't just mention your symptoms to your dentist. Tell your doctor, too.
5. Chronic Bad Breath
A little halitosis is completely normal; we can't be perfect all the time, after all. But if your bad breath doesn't go away after brushing, is unusually potent, or has gotten worse over time, it suggest something else is wrong. Gastrointestinal problems and infections can cause a foul smell in your mouth, and intense tooth decay — which you won't necessarily feel, particularly if the nerves are damaged — can lead to chronic bad breath.