Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

How to Spot a Minor Dental Issue Before It Becomes a Problem

by Brett Clark

According to the Oral Health Foundation, over a quarter of adults only book a dental appointment when they become aware of a problem. However, choosing to approach your oral health in this way comes with many risks. Dentists are trained to spot potential oral health issues with a quick examination, but unless you yourself are a dentist, it is likely that you might not identify a serious problem with your teeth or gums until the condition has become so bad that extensive dental work is needed. 

Of course, there are the obvious signs to look out for, such as toothache, discoloration, and tooth decay but these symptoms are all of the advanced type and can be avoided if you know what to look out for when caring for your teeth. 

Here is a list of the early symptoms you should be on the look out for when caring for your teeth.

Tartar Buildup

If you neglect to brush your teeth as often as you should (twice a day), the tooth decay-causing bacteria that live in your mouth (streptococcus mutans) will begin to multiply as they metabolize the sugar and carbohydrates contained in the food residue on your teeth. 

Eventually, the biofilm (plaque), a yellowish film on your teeth which contains these bacteria, hardens into tartar. Tartar contains bacteria and toxins and can spread below the gumline, weakening the periodontal ligaments and bone that hold your teeth in place. 

Tartar appears as a yellowish, whitish layer on your teeth, often around the bottoms of your teeth and in between them where it is hard for a toothbrush to reach. If you spot a tartar buildup, visit your dentist for a cleaning and a checkup as soon as possible. Otherwise you are at risk of developing gum disease.  

Red and Inflamed Gums

This is also a symptom of gum disease and is often the next step after tartar buildup. If your gums becomes red and inflamed, you may have gingivitis, which is the weakest form of gum disease.

Receding Gums

Should you fail to do anything about your inflamed gums, they will soon begin to recede due to the periodontal pockets beginning to form around your teeth. These pockets contain millions of bacteria as well as harmful toxins. If you fail to act at this point, the condition may worsen to periodontitis, which is full blown gum disease and requires extensive treatment. 

At this stage, not only is the bone around your teeth beginning to deteriorate along with the periodontal ligaments, but because your gums have receded, the necks of your teeth are now exposed. Your tooth necks are composed of dentin, which is weaker than enamel, and with the bacteria running rampant around your teeth due to untreated gum disease, your teeth will begin to decay around the gumline. 

Tooth Sensitivity 

Once decay sets in, you will then experience tooth sensitivity due to cavities. By this point, the damage might be so severe that extensive dental work is required in order to treat the condition. 

You can avoid this problem if you brush more often and pay close attention to the appearance of your teeth. Allowing tartar to build up on your teeth is an invitation to oral bacteria and a surefire way to develop gum disease. If you think your teeth need a good cleaning, don't hesitate to book an appointment with your dentist.