Symptoms and Treatment of Common Dental Problems
How to tell if you have tooth decay
Tooth decay may present in a number of different ways. If you are experiencing the below symptoms, then you might have tooth decay:
- Tooth pain or tooth ache. This may be random, or it may be aggravated by biting or chewing, or by contact with hot and cold beverages.
- Hot and cold sensitivity. If your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold, you may be experiencing tooth decay and this may be a sign that there is less enamel protecting the sensitive inner part of the tooth.
- A tooth cavity. If you can visibly see a hole in the tooth, or feel it with your tongue, then you may be suffering from a cavity caused by tooth decay.
- A dry mouth. This is not a sign of tooth decay but having a dry mouth or dry mouth syndrome can contribute to tooth decay. This is because saliva plays an important role in combating tooth decay.
Like with many other dental problems, there are certain symptoms that can suggest tooth decay. However, a proper assessment of your oral health is best left to your dentist.
Your dentist will be able to tell you with certainty whether or not you are experiencing tooth decay. They will also be able to detect tooth decay that you may not have been aware of. This may be done through an oral examination or through an X-ray or digital scan that your dentist performs.
Fortunately, if you are suffering from the symptoms of tooth decay, your dentist can provide a number of treatment solutions to help to ease your pain. The main treatment method includes dental fillings, and many preventative treatments are available such as a dental clean, fluoride treatment, fissure sealants, and other tooth decay treatments by your dentist.
How to tell if you grind your teeth
Teeth grinding, teeth clenching, or bruxism refers to when you grind the upper and lower rows of teeth together. This can occur during the day, for example when you are focused or stressed. More commonly, it occurs at night when it is harder to ‘catch yourself out’ and realise that you are grinding your teeth.
These symptoms may indicate that you grind your teeth:
- Sore and aching jaw muscles, as well as pain around the ears and temples
- Teeth that are flattened across the top or visibly diminishing in size
- Cracked, fractured or broken teeth
- Painful teeth or sensitivity to hot and cold
- Morning headaches
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction which may include pain to this joint, or a popping jaw or clicking jaw
Fortunately, your dentist will be able to offer solutions that can limit the damage caused by your tooth grinding habit.
They can offer advice that is targeted at stopping you from grinding your teeth. This may include cutting back alcohol or caffeine intake, learning to manage your stress, and a range of other solutions. They can also create a splint or nightguard that is custom-made to be comfortable and to protect your teeth at night, to limit the damage caused by your tooth grinding habit.
How to tell if you have gum disease
Gum disease is often poorly understood by the public. Gum disease isn’t a ‘disease’ you can catch, like you can catch a virus. It is a descriptive term that is applied to a group of unpleasant symptoms and anatomical changes in the mouth. It describes harm to the gums that occurs through known causes. Gum disease is not itself the cause.
Dental plaque is the most common cause of gum disease. Gum disease can be classified into two stages. Firstly, gingivitis which may show itself with the following symptoms:
- Swollen gums, puffy gums, and/or red gums
- Bleeding gums. You may notice blood during the day, while you eat or in your spit when you are brushing your teeth.
- Bad breath or a poor taste lingering in the mouth
The second stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis, and this is a more serious, advanced stage of gum disease. This can occur when the parts of the gum that hold the tooth in place are affected, allowing the development of bacteria in the gap, and the damage of the tissues connecting the teeth to the jaw. Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- All of the symptoms of gingivitis
- Pain chewing or tender teeth
- Loose teeth that begin to wobble or move
- Visible gaps between the teeth and gums
- Receding gums, which make more of the tooth visible to the naked eye
The good news is that if you are suffering from gingivitis, it can typically be treated. Gingivitis in itself does not cause damage to the teeth or the jaw bone and so with treatment, it can often be reversed. The treatment offered by your dentist may include advice on brushing technique, removal of calculus and plaque, dental scale and polish, modification of diet or habits, and other methods of gum disease treatment.
How to tell if you have oral cancer
While it is valuable to self-screen for cancer, it is a bad idea to rely on your own judgement of whether you have oral cancer. A condition like oral cancer is a highly serious one and the assessment and diagnosis of oral cancer is best left to a qualified health professional.
By the same note, it is easy to become fearful that you have oral cancer when really, you have an ulcer, cyst, or other less harmful condition. So, if you are worried about your symptoms, the best bet is to seek a professional assessment as soon as possible.
Oral cancer can be used to refer to any cancer of the lips, tongue, gums, or roof or floor of the mouth. A condition like oral cancer highlights the importance of regular dental check-ups because your Indooroopilly dentist may notice the signs before you do.
However, if you notice the signs and symptoms of oral cancer (some of which are outlined below), you are encouraged to make an appointment with an appropriate health professional and perform oral cancer screening test. You are also encouraged to consult the Cancer Council website for further information.
- A lump in the mouth or neck (particularly one that does not go away)
- An ulcer that is not healing or a sore lip that won’t heal
- Patches of white or red on any fleshy surface within the mouth
- Loss of feeling in the mouth
- Teeth become loose in the mouth
- Changes to taste or speech
- Difficulty in performing actions that are usually easy such as swallowing or moving your tongue
- Lymph glands that are swollen
How to tell if you have an infected tooth
A tooth abscess refers to the build-up of pus within or around a tooth due to the infection of that tooth. A tooth abscess requires swift treatment from your dentist because it can pose a serious health risk if the infection is able to spread to other parts of the body such as the jawbone. An infected tooth may be evident through the following symptoms:
- Extreme or severe tooth ache
- Swollen gums or face or upper or lower jaw
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Visible pus near the tooth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fever, nausea, or vomiting
The presence of tooth decay may suggest that symptoms such as these are likely to be a tooth abscess. This is because tooth decay is often a precursor to an infected tooth. When tooth decay leads to a cavity and then bacteria can go through this cavity in the enamel and infect the inner parts of the tooth, then an abscess is able to occur.
Fortunately, your dentist will be able to provide treatment to your tooth abscess or to provide the appropriate referral if necessary. A tooth abscess, because of its potential complications, may qualify as a dental emergency and you should arrange an emergency dental appointment to have it treated. Contact River City Dental if you think you have a tooth abscess.
Treatment methods may include antibiotics, abscess drainage or a root canal procedure. Tooth extraction may be necessary but only in extreme cases. Your dentist can also provide advice to help to limit the risk of it happening again with another tooth and fill any cavities to reduce the risk of another infection.
How to tell if your wisdom teeth are coming through
Removal of the wisdom teeth is often suggested by your dentist because there is insufficient room for the wisdom tooth to come through, and because of the unpleasant symptoms the tooth is causing and will go on causing. Symptoms of emerging wisdom teeth may include:
- A new tooth sticking up behind your second molars. Can you feel a new tooth sticking out of the gums? Or see it? Look at a diagram of the teeth or count your teeth with your tongue to determine if this is in fact your wisdom teeth coming through. If you are over 16 years of age, it is likely to be.
- Gum swelling or gum bleeding where the wisdom teeth are set to come through, behind the second molars.
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth which may result from inflammation of the gum.
- Jaw pain and difficulty opening the mouth into a wide open position.
- Facial swelling and swollen lymph nodes
It is important to be responsive to these symptoms because it is easiest to remove wisdom teeth early. As time goes on, their removal can become more difficult. Your dentist will also be able to guide you on the post-surgery process and recovery.
As with other oral health conditions, wisdom teeth underline the importance of regular dental check-ups. By arranging them you will be able to have regular conversations with your dentist about your emerging wisdom teeth and have any issues detected and treated in a timely manner.
Dental conditions that have obvious symptoms
Some dental conditions don’t need any explanations. The symptoms of a missing tooth? A missing tooth! The symptoms of tooth discolouration? Yellow, brown or grey teeth. For conditions like these, you don’t need advice to tell that you are experiencing an issue.
However, you will need advice from your dentist on how to resolve these issues and what sort of treatment will help you to restore your oral health and desired smile.
Arranging treatment for your dental symptoms
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in this article, you are encouraged to arrange an appointment with your dentist. If you have an appointment already booked, that’s great; but your dentist won’t mind if you want to bring that appointment forward and will fit you in as soon as available.