Some dental problems are quite easy to notice. If one of your teeth is seriously cracked, you’ll likely feel it every time you use your mouth, much less eat or drink. However, not every type of serious dental problem is quite so easy to identify. In fact, many of the most common and problematic dental conditions people experience are very difficult for non-professionals to identify.
The way most people figure out they have a dental problem is by noticing painful or annoying symptoms. Maybe your tooth aches, or drinking cold liquids feels painful. Sometimes, however, a dental problem’s symptoms could be very subtle or even non-existent. The symptoms still point to a serious issue, but you don’t get it treated because you don’t know you have a problem! Here’s how to tell if you have one of these dental problems, and what to do about it.
Bruxism is the technical term for when a person unconsciously grinds their teeth. People with bruxism may grind their teeth while they’re awake, or when they’re sleeping. Doctors don’t completely understand what causes bruxism, but it’s frequently associated with stress and anxiety. Experts consider sleep bruxism to be a type of movement disorder and believe it may be related to sleep apnea. Approximately 8% of adults experience sleep bruxism, and it’s even more common in children.
Bruxism can stress and overwork the jaw, cause headaches, and even severely hurt teeth over time. Grinding wears away at the enamel on the chewing surfaces of the teeth and can even flatten, fracture, or chip them. When teeth lose enamel they become more sensitive and vulnerable to damage. Clenching your teeth and jaws, even if you’re not grinding your teeth, is another symptom related to bruxism. Pay attention to how your jaw feels throughout the day and try to see if you’re clenching or grinding your teeth while you’re working or concentrating. If you frequently have jaw, neck, or face soreness, especially after waking, ask your dentist about signs of bruxism.
Gum recession happens when gums no longer fully cover the teeth they’re protecting. It happens when the gums are damaged or weakened. Poor oral hygiene can cause gum recession, but it can happen to people who take good care of their teeth, too. In fact, one common cause of gum recession is brushing too hard. People who brush their teeth too hard can permanently damage their gums and wear them away, exposing more of their teeth.
As gum recession worsens, the gums may recede enough to expose the underlying roots of teeth. Tooth roots are very sensitive to temperature and considerably more vulnerable to decay. If your teeth feel especially temperature sensitive, it could be because your gums have receded enough to expose their roots. Earlier stages of gum recession may be more difficult to identify. Check your gum line to see if it looks like any of your teeth are more exposed than they should be. If you’re worried about gum recession, ask your dentist about what you can do about it. Although gum recession can be prevented and treated, it can’t be reversed by home care.
One of the more frustratingly common misconceptions about dentistry is the idea that cavities feel painful immediately. Some people believe that they can’t possibly have cavities because their teeth don’t hurt. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In their early stages, cavities usually don’t hurt at all. Even as they get a bit larger, most cavities don’t make your tooth ache or feel sensitive. Usually, people can chew normally with a small cavity without noticing anything amiss.
Unfortunately, however, just because you can’t notice cavities doesn’t mean they’re not a problem. Once a cavity exists, it’s only going to grow unless it’s treated. Decay continuously eats away at the surrounding tooth, extending deeper into it. Eventually, the decay may reach the inner “pulp” of the tooth, and symptoms to worsen considerably. You might have a cavity if a particular tooth aches, feels sensitive to temperature, or hurts when you’re eating. The best way to find out if you have cavities is to schedule regular dental check-ups.
Worried you might have one of these problems or another dental problem you can’t quite identify? Don’t be! Just call ImmediaDent any day of the week between 9 am and 9 pm.
We can schedule you in at your earliest convenience and set your mind at ease. It’s always better to know and do something than it is to wonder and do nothing. Don’t waste time idly worrying about the state of your dental health; get proactive and call now!