No Pain Doesn’t Mean No Problem

Tooth Pain Don’t judge a book by its cover is a common phrase usually associated with judging situations or people by looking at them. No news is good news is another adage that many people live by. Unfortunately in dentistry, these statements have proven incorrect and ultimately costly in many cases.

Dental problems such as tooth decay or root deterioration are not always obvious. Just looking at a tooth in the mirror every time you brush will not show if there are problems inside or around it. Assuming that your oral hygiene is fine or you don’t need a dentist or routine dental cleanings because your teeth don’t hurt does not mean there isn’t anything wrong with your teeth or mouth. Many issues cannot be felt and yet are discovered upon the taking of X-rays or by examining the areas around and in between with dental instruments.

Dentistry’s main goal is preventive care…maintaining optimal oral conditions to keep problems from forming. Its secondary goal is to find and treat problems before they become too painful or destroy teeth or gum or bone. Ensuring that you maintain good oral hygiene habits including regular cleanings with a hygienist and check-ups with a dentist is a lot less costly financially and personally than waiting for problems to painfully appear and dealing with them then. For many patients, there is no prior warning of anything wrong with their mouth or teeth before the onset of pain, but a simple matter of good oral hygiene and regular dental appointments would have caught the issue a lot sooner, saving the patient a lot of pain and expensive restorations.

How do I know I have a Dental Problem?

Hav­ing a den­tal prob­lem is not always obvi­ous. Some peo­ple may not expe­ri­ence any dis­com­fort or pain at all, some may not expe­ri­ence it until the issue is really advanced, and oth­ers know something’s wrong from the very early stages. This is one of the rea­sons it is so imper­a­tive to sched­ule reg­u­lar den­tal check­ups; to catch any poten­tial den­tal issues at the ear­li­est stages to reduce the chances of pain or com­pli­ca­tions and costs asso­ci­ated with treat­ment. Your den­tist will always be happy to talk with you about any ques­tions you may have about some­thing new or dif­fer­ent hap­pen­ing in your mouth. Although there may not be any severe pain, below is a list of symp­toms that should prompt you to con­sult with a den­tist for eval­u­a­tion. There may not be a prob­lem, but, if there is, treat­ment can be ini­ti­ated as soon as pos­si­ble, avoid­ing com­pli­ca­tions and giv­ing you peace of mind.

Pain – This is the most obvi­ous indi­ca­tion that there is a prob­lem in your mouth. But it may not be always be asso­ci­ated with your teeth. Keep track of where the pain starts and whether it “spi­ders” or radi­ates from a cer­tain spot in your mouth. Is it actu­ally in a tooth? What hap­pens to cre­ate the pain (bit­ing or chew­ing, expo­sure to hot or cold)? If you have pain in either of your jaw joints note what hap­pens to your level of pain when you’re chew­ing or rest­ing. Also try to deter­mine whether the pain is related to the joint (ball and socket) itself, or the mus­cles around it. Obvi­ously, if you expe­ri­ence any severe pain call your den­tist imme­di­ately. Mild or mod­er­ate pain that does not go away on its own within a day or two also requires a timely call and visit to the den­tist to find out what is going on and fix the problem.

Red and bleed­ing gums – Red and bleed­ing gums are one of the first indi­ca­tions of gum dis­ease and can be eas­ily reme­died with the estab­lish­ment of a more strin­gent oral hygiene reg­i­men, includ­ing floss­ing which is often neglected. Obvi­ously if these symp­toms do not improve you need to see a den­tist, or sched­ule more fre­quent den­tal hygiene vis­its. Often a new pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion will cause the mouth to be dry and require more fre­quent clean­ings, as the plaque builds up faster.

Decreased range of motion – This is of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance in issues related to the jaw joint, or TMJ, espe­cially if there has been some kind of trauma to the jaw area. Some­times a per­son is unable to open their jaw as wide as nor­mal. This is usu­ally because the lig­a­ments, mus­cles and joint have been stretched or dam­aged. Some­times the bone is bro­ken. Decreased range of motion can also occur when wis­dom teeth that are trapped below the gum­line, infected or impacted. Your den­tist should be con­sulted imme­di­ately if your mouth doesn’t open as usual. Again, a timely con­sul­ta­tion can avert dis­as­ter by begin­ning treat­ment early, avoid­ing com­pli­ca­tions and pro­vid­ing peace of mind.

Loose teeth – Loose teeth are often the results of poor oral hygiene which can cause red and bleed­ing gums and lead to severe peri­odon­tal dis­ease. This infec­tion in the gums causes the bone around the teeth to melt away, essen­tially reduc­ing con­tact with the teeth. Teeth can then become loose and be lost as the anchor of bone is elim­i­nated. Loose teeth are not nec­es­sar­ily painful, but they are a major sign that things aren’t right and, if treat­ment isn’t sought soon, can result in even big­ger restora­tive issues and treat­ment costs. The health of the whole body is poorly impacted by the bac­te­ria asso­ci­ated with peri­odon­tal dis­ease. Recent med­ical research has shown that the cleaner your mouth is, the health­ier your body is.

These are just some of the more com­monly expe­ri­ence den­tal prob­lems that don’t nec­es­sar­ily start with an X-ray or den­tal exam­i­na­tion and may, in fact, hap­pen in between den­tal appoint­ments with­out warn­ing. Your den­tist will always be happy to eval­u­ate your issues and dis­cuss options with you, so please call if you have any concerns!