Five Dental Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

older man with toothache

The coronavirus has made us all understandably cautious about visiting the dentist. We’ve postponed appointments or sought advice virtually. But some conditions require timely attention and in-person care to prevent further threat to oral and overall health. If you experience any of these five symptoms, don’t ignore them — seek treatment promptly.

1. Gum, tooth, or jaw pain: These symptoms can signal a range of issues, from stress to tooth decay to abscess. Heat- or cold-triggered pain in a tooth may indicate decay, fracture, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel, or an exposed root due to gum recession. Pain or discomfort in the jaw is a symptom of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), but also can signal a heart attack.

2.  Bleeding gums: Gums that ache or bleed may result from gum disease that is worsening. Gum disease, or periodontitis, often is more severe in people with diabetes or other underlying conditions that reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection.   

3.  Loose, lost or broken teeth: If you are a teen or adult, a loose tooth is not an occasion to celebrate. With a loose tooth, talking and chewing can damage the tooth’s integrity, making it more likely to fall out or become further damaged. If a tooth is knocked out, retrieve the tooth (don’t touch the root) and see a dentist immediately — it could be saved. For a tooth or filling that is broken, chipped, or fractured, see your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth could be damaged further or become infected, possibly causing you to end up losing the tooth.  

4. Recurring bad breath: We’re not talking onions or garlic. Persistent halitosis, in spite of brushing and flossing, may indicate the presence of dry mouth, gum disease or medication side effects.  

5. Sores, irregular patches, or lumps in your mouth: Most people have had occasional cold or canker sores, or irritation from braces or dentures. Sores or lumps that persist may indicate a more serious condition: an infection, fungus, virus or even oral cancer.