Experiencing any type of problem with your smile—including pain, inflammation, or discoloration—can be alarming.

While some symptoms aren’t strictly dental emergencies, most still require professional attention from your dentist. Letting any type of issue with your teeth and gums go unaddressed can lead to more involved treatments down the line.

But how can you know what certain dental signs and symptoms mean, or how soon you should get in to see your Asheville dentist for an exam? Here, we detail some common dental problems and what they could mean for your smile.

Sudden, Sharp Pain in Your Tooth

Any type of pain that comes on suddenly shouldn’t wait to be addressed, even if the pain is intermittent. If you have a sharp pain in your tooth that comes on suddenly, you could have acute tooth sensitivity resulting from:

  • A fracture in your tooth
  • Tooth decay
  • A chipped tooth
  • Tooth infection

Pain almost always means that some type of damage is present, whether it’s a tooth abscess resulting from an infection or tooth sensitivity as the result of enamel damage.

How soon should you be seen? Always call your dentist in Asheville to let them know what your symptoms are and to see if it’s recommended that you come in sooner rather than later.

Gum Inflammation or Bleeding That Comes and Goes

If you see blood when brushing your teeth every once in a while, or your gums look tender and puffy on occasion, you may be seeing signs of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.

Even if you don’t have all the symptoms of full-blown gum disease, it’s always best to get any concerns evaluated by your dentist. While gingivitis is relatively simple to reverse, advanced stages of gum disease rarely are.

In addition, should you be an expecting mom, you may be experiencing hormonal changes that could cause gum inflammation during your pregnancy. These problems should always be evaluated for treatment by your dentist, as gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight in babies.

How soon should you be seen? While gum problems aren’t generally considered an emergency, you should get in to see your dentist for a regular appointment as soon as you are able!

One Tooth Begins to Discolor

If a single tooth begins to appear darker than the rest of your teeth, even with your regular oral care habits, it’s likely that the tooth’s inner tissue–sometimes called the pulp–has died.

The inner tissue of your tooth is what keeps it alive and healthy. If the tooth’s pulp is affected, you could have:

  • Experienced trauma to the tooth that caused the nerve tissue inside to die
  • A deep cavity that has destroyed the tooth’s pulp
  • An infection that could have compromised your tooth

Once the tooth becomes discolored as a result of dead or infected tissue inside, its color unfortunately can’t be restored without removing the pulp and sealing the tooth in a procedure known as a root canal.

How soon should you be seen? Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms of tooth infection, it’s still important to get in to see your dentist for an appointment as soon as you are able. If you’re experiencing severe pain, a bad taste in your mouth, bleeding, or swelling, you should contact your dentist in Asheville as soon as possible for further instructions.

Muscle Tension That Leads to Headaches or Jaw Pain

If you’re experiencing frequent headaches—especially in the morning—or jaw pain, you could be grinding your teeth at night and not know it.

Also known as bruxism, grinding your teeth puts immense pressure on your teeth which can cause them to fracture, lead to gum inflammation, and cause jaw pain and tension, which can also lead to headaches.

Bruxism also puts strain on your temporomandibular joints, which can lead to TMJ symptoms such as difficulty opening the jaw all the way and popping or clicking noises.

How soon should you be seen? Bruxism and TMJ disorders are generally not considered dental emergencies, but they shouldn’t go unaddressed either. Contact your Asheville dentist to see when the next available appointment would be.

Your Teeth Feel Like They Fit Differently (Loose or Shifting Teeth)

Do you sometimes feel as though your teeth are actually shifting, or do they feel slightly loose in your jaw? Loose or shifting teeth could happen due to:

  • Not wearing your orthodontic retainer
  • Gum disease, which can weaken connective tissue that helps hold teeth in place
  • Bruxism, which can lead to inflamed gums and sore teeth

While your teeth will naturally shift somewhat over your lifetime, loose or dramatically shifting teeth are not normal. If you’ve previously had orthodontic work done, you should always wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist.

How soon should you be seen? Loose teeth combined with other symptoms such as bleeding gums or bad breath could be indicative of gum disease and shouldn’t wait to be seen. Call your dentist to see when they can get you in for an appointment based on your symptoms.

Bad Breath That Won’t Go Away

No one wants to hear that they have bad breath! Giving your teeth a quick brush or rinsing your mouth out with mouthwash can help improve your breath, but when bad breath returns–or never fully seems to go away–you could have a bigger problem.

Bad breath, also called halitosis, could be indicative of gum disease or an ongoing infection in your oral cavity. If your bad breath is persistent even after brushing, it’s time to get your smile evaluated by your dentist.

How soon should you be seen? Unless you’re experiencing symptoms of acute infection such as fever, uncontrollable swelling, or pain, you can generally wait to schedule a regular appointment with your dentist.

Your Teeth Appear to Be Longer

If it seems like your teeth are getting longer when you look in the mirror, it could be because your gum tissue is receding.

There are several causes for gum recession, including gum disease and brushing your teeth too harshly. Crooked teeth can also contribute to the gums pulling back from the teeth in an unnatural way.

How soon should you be seen? While gum recession isn’t an emergency, you should keep that regular appointment with your dentist to address the problem!

Schedule a Dental Exam With Us at Saunders DDS

For all your oral health signs and symptoms, Saunders DDS is there for you. Find out more about our services or contact us today to schedule an appointment through our contact form or by calling us at (828) 277-6060!