When it comes to cleaning out the attic or facing that growing pile of laundry, many of us procrastinate, but that’s okay. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Our spouse gets a little aggravated about the mess; we have to wear those itchy socks that were stuffed into the back of the drawer. When someone puts off seeing a dentist to investigate a sore tooth, bleeding gums or a strange lump that recently appeared however, the consequences can be very serious – and even life-threatening. Unfortunately however, many people do procrastinate in these situations. Here are some reasons why you should not put off seeing a dentist if you notice any changes in your mouth.
An abscess could be jeopardize your health – and even your life
It can and does happen… the infection from an abscessed tooth can spread to other vital parts of your body including your brain and heart. I personally know someone who put off visits to his dentist and doctor and instead decided to ride out a toothache. He is lucky to be alive today, after surviving two brain surgeries, spending weeks in intensive care and months thereafter recuperating at home on heavy daily doses of IV antibiotics to rid himself of an infection that travelled from his mouth to his head. Others have not been so lucky and have died from neglected tooth abscesses. Treat infections anywhere in your body – including your mouth – with the urgency and respect they deserve.
Irritated or bleeding gums should never be ignored
Have you noticed that your gums have started bleeding or have become sore or irritated when brushing, flossing or eating? This clear sign of gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, should be addressed by a dentist. Among other things, gum disease can cause irreversible gum recession or require painful and expensive gum surgery down the road. Research has also linked gingivitis to other medical conditions. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, individuals with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.
Procrastination can cause tooth loss
A small cavity can almost always easily be filled, leaving a tooth strong, vibrant and there for you for years to come. If a small cavity is permitted to continue breaking down a tooth, restoration can quickly become more and more difficult, ultimately leaving you with no other viable choice than extraction. Nothing is like your own, real teeth. Take care of them so you have them for years and years to come.
Time equals money
Take the case of that small cavity situation I just described. A fairly short dental appointment can diagnose and fill a cavity quite inexpensively. But if you let that decay continue, a more time-consuming and costly root canal treatment might likely be necessary to rectify the problem. So, if you feel any pain in your teeth or experience discomfort when a tooth is exposed to hot or cold, get it checked out. Your wallet will thank you!
Nipping oral cancer in the bud
The death rate from oral cancers is high not because it is difficult to diagnose, but because it is often discovered so late in its development, once it has had an opportunity to spread or metastasize to other locations in the body like the lymph nodes and the neck. Symptoms of oral cancer can include:
- White or red patches anywhere in your mouth
- A lump anywhere in your neck or mouth region, including your lip, tongue, cheek, or throat, that doesn’t go away after a few days
- Unusual numbness or bleeding
- Painful chewing and/or swallowing
- A feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Loose teeth or dentures not fitting properly
- Any mouth sores that don’t heal after a week
So, if you notice anything unusual in your mouth, don’t put it off. See your dentist immediately. It could save your life.
Good oral hygiene routines and regularly scheduled visits to the dentist are the answer!
While I’ve discussed the importance of responding promptly to changes in your mouth, when it comes to ensuring your long-term dental health, your best bet is to be proactive! If you take care of your teeth at home and visit your dental office regularly for check-ups and cleanings, it is more than likely that you’ll never have to face any of these problems in the first place! So, save yourself time, grief and money… book yourself in for a checkup with your dentist now– and don’t forget to book a follow-up six months later on your way out!
Steven Deskin is a Brantford Dentist in general practice.