As a family dentist in Corvallis, Dr. Travelstead and the rest of our team at Evergreen Dental remain dedicated to providing every patient with the quality dental care needed to enjoy a great-looking smile for a lifetime. While many of our patients understand that a persistent toothache or trouble chewing means that something is wrong with their oral health, there are a number of less obvious signs that something wrong is lurking just beneath surface.
Most of us judge the current state of our health by the amount of pain and discomfort we experience. A case of the flu or a sprained ankle have pretty obvious symptoms that make it easy for us to know when to seek medical care. Unfortunately, the majority of oral health problems don’t manifest obvious symptoms until they have progressed. This can make treating these types of oral problems difficult and expensive.
Fortunately, when you know the less obvious signs of certain oral health problems, it becomes far easier to spot them in time to receive the care you need from Dr. Travelstead. With that in mind, here are a few common oral health problems that can be easy to miss.
Gum disease ranks as the most common chronic infection in the world. In fact, over 47 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from either, mild, moderate, or severe gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease only becomes more common with age, as over 70 percent of adults 65 and older deal with gum disease.
During the early stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, the symptoms can appear very minor. Your gums may appear red, swollen, and could bleed easily after brushing. It’s easy to blame these types of problems on brushing too hard or as the result of not flossing for a few days. Unfortunately, if these symptoms are allowed to progress, the resulting problems could become far worse.
As gingivitis progresses into the more serious periodontitis, the disease begins to erode away at the gum tissue and underlying bone structure that holds our teeth into position. As a result, teeth will begin to move, shift, and become loose, eventually leading to permanent tooth loss.
To fully understand the impact gum disease can have on our teeth and gums, think of your oral health like a house and gingivitis as the termites slowly working to cause the whole thing to collapse.
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a fairly common oral health problem that is caused by a variety of factors, including stress, sleep apnea, and even excessive caffeine consumption. Patients who suffer from teeth grinding excessively clench, grind, and gnash their teeth together, usually while asleep. Because so many patients only grind while sleeping, most never realize they even have a problem until diagnosed by Dr. Travelstead.
Even though our teeth rank as some of the strongest and most resilient parts of the body, excessive stress can cause them to wear down. Nightly grinding can cause teeth to flatten and increase the risk of becoming chipped, cracked, or broken. Nightly grinding also places additional strain on the joints of the jaw. This can lead to the development of TMJ, a painful jaw disorder that can make eating and even speaking painful.
So while grinding your teeth together at night might not seem like too big a deal, this seemingly innocent habit can actually cause lasting damage if not properly treated.
If you frequently experience a sharp, stinging pain when drinking a cold glass of water or when sipping a hot cup of coffee, you may simply try to avoid this discomfort by keeping your beverages close to room temperature. Unfortunately, the pain you’re experiencing is actually a potential symptom of a far more serious problem.
Gum recession occurs when gum tissue begins to pull away from the base of our teeth. This exposes the delicate roots and nerves usually located safely below the gum line. The discomfort you experience from drinking hot or cold beverages or ice cream is actually caused by the nerves of a tooth becoming stimulated when exposed to these extreme temperatures.
If a little discomfort was the only problem caused by gum recession, you might be able to live with it. Unfortunately, the gaps, or pockets, created along the gum line allow harmful oral bacteria to buildup. Bacteria then gets to work on slowly eroding away at the base of your teeth. This damage could lead to the need for a root canal or permanent tooth loss.
Your Family Dentist in Corvallis Can Help
While each of the problems described above can cause lasting damage to your oral health, they are all treatable when spotted early. This is why scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our team at Evergreen Dental is so important to the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
Regular exams allow Dr. Travelstead the chance to spot the signs of gum disease, teeth grinding, gum recession, and other common oral health problems early on. When treatment is administered early, patients can have their oral health restored without the need for any expensive treatments.
Make the most of your oral health by looking for the less obvious signs for problems and by visiting Dr. Travelstead regularly.