Nearly a third of Americans don’t bother to have an annual dental checkup, leaving them exposed to an array of oral health problems ranging from decay to infection to cancer. In fact, about a quarter of American adults have at least one cavity that’s not treated.
Having an annual exam is important for lots of reasons. But it’s also important to have a checkup if you notice any unusual symptoms that could be a sign of serious oral health problems.
As a top-rated family dentist in San Francisco, California, Nataly Vilderman, DDS, helps patients be proactive about their oral care. In this post, she reviews seven signs that could mean your oral health needs some professional attention.
Bleeding gums can be caused by a cut or from overzealous brushing. But often, gum bleeding is associated with gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
In fact, bleeding gums are often one of the first signs of gum disease, and if you seek intervention at the first sign of blood, there’s a good chance we can “reverse” gum disease so you can avoid more complex treatments.
Your teeth are designed to work together to bite and chew. If your bite feels “different,” it could mean your teeth have shifted or loosened, issues that need immediate dental treatment. Oral abscesses and some oral cancers can cause your bite to change, too.
Speaking of oral cancer, discolored patches and sores that won’t heal are other symptoms of oral cancer. Dr. Vilderman checks for these and other signs of cancer during your regular dental checkups.
Everyone has bad breath from time to time, usually as a result of foods or beverages, like garlic or coffee. If you have bad breath on a regular basis, it could be a sign of an abscess or other infection, or you might have dry mouth, a chronic condition that makes tooth decay more likely.
Sometimes, your tooth hurts all the time. But other times, the pain happens (or intensifies) when you put pressure on it, like you do when you bite or chew. This type of pain is often associated with deeper tooth infections or infections in the gums surrounding the tooth. It might even be a symptom of an infection inside the jaw bone.
Healthy gums are a rosy, pink color. If your gums are red, swollen, or tender, it’s a sign that something’s not right.
Red, tender, inflamed gums can be a sign of developing gum disease that happens as bacteria travel down the surfaces of your teeth. These symptoms can also be an indication of an infection or abscess in your gums or around your tooth roots.
Healthy gums hug your tooth surfaces, preventing bacteria from reaching the lower parts of your teeth and the root pockets. As gum disease progresses, your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, receding down the tooth surface and increasing the risk of tooth loss. If your gums are receding, we have advanced treatment options to restore gums for better oral health and more attractive smiles.
Maintaining your oral health isn’t just important for your teeth and gums. Your oral health can affect the rest of your health, too. In fact, infections in your gums or around your teeth can wind up entering your bloodstream, which means those germs can spread to every other part of your body.
Annual checkups help prevent many of these symptoms by providing preventive care aimed at correcting minor issues before they become major problems. If you’re having one of these symptoms or if you’re overdue for your checkup, call 415-665-7800 or book an appointment online with Dr. Vilderman today.