7 Signs You Should See a Dentist

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Tooth ache

You don't run to the doctor for every sniffle, and you don't need to run to the dentist for every little tooth problem. However, there are certain warning signs you should not ignore—they need a dentist's attention. If you have any of these signs, schedule a visit with your dentist ASAP.

1. Tooth Pain

There are many possible causes, but a toothache is usually a red flag that something's going on in your mouth. Tooth pain can signal a cavity, gum disease, or even an infection. What happens if you don't get treatment? Decay can worsen. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss. An infection can spread and become serious. However, when treated promptly, the cause of tooth pain is usually pretty simple to fix.

2. Jaw Pain and Problems

Head to your dentist if your jaw aches, pops or clicks. Many conditions can affect your jaw. These include a sinus infection, arthritis, gum disease (gingivitis), TMJ (temporomandibular joint disease), and grinding your teeth. Without treatment, pain can worsen. Any infection in your gums from gingivitis can also worsen and get harder to treat. Your dentist can suggest ways to ease your pain and get control of the problem.

3. Bleeding, Swelling or Reddening of the Gums

These are all major warning signs of gum disease. So is bad breath. Gum disease develops when infection strikes your gums. Your teeth may bleed when you floss or brush. They might feel sore or painful. Gum disease is serious. It's the most common reason adults lose their teeth. However, dentists can treat gum disease and try to save your teeth. Your dentist can also explain ways you can protect your teeth and gums through brushing, flossing, diet, and lifestyle changes like not smoking.

4. Loose Teeth

Gum disease can cause your gums to pull away from the root of your permanent teeth. This makes your teeth feel loose. It's not normal for permanent teeth to become loose. See your dentist to figure out the possible causes and learn ways to save your teeth. Without treatment, you may lose teeth.

5. Mouth Sores That Don't Go Away

An occasional mouth sore that heals quickly is not something to worry about. But if you get sores in your mouth that don't go away, see your dentist. These can signal infections or an underlying disease. They also can stem from irritation in your mouth from braces, dentures, or a sharp tooth. Mouth sores, along with lumps and bumps, also could be signs of oral cancer. Your dentist can figure out the cause and address the issue. Left untreated, mouth sores may worsen and affect your ability to chew. If you have another health condition, it also may get worse without the right diagnosis and treatment.

6. Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth cause pain or discomfort when you eat or drink something hot or cold. Many things can cause this. You may have a cracked tooth, a cavity, or gum disease. Your gums may have pulled away from the root of the tooth. Or the protective enamel on your tooth may have worn away. Your dentist can treat the cause. This will stop these conditions from worsening and should put an end to your pain.

7. Dry Mouth

A dry mouth can be the result of aging or a side effect of medications. Saliva plays an important role in maintaining a healthy mouth. It keeps your mouth moisturized and washes away bacteria. This reduces your chances of developing tooth decay. Your dentist can suggest different ways to manage dry mouth to prevent cavities.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Feb 27
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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