Can Minor Dental Issues Ever Be ‘Acceptable’?

Dr Mike Allen discusses this question, and the possible consequences of taking this approach.

Most patients of Mike Allen’s Dental Practice come to see us every six months or so for their regular check ups. If a significant problem occurs between these appointments, such as a badly broken tooth, most will make an emergency appointment to see us as soon as possible to have the tooth restored. Sometimes, this is clear cut, and a badly broken and sharp tooth, or a painful tooth, is an obvious indicator that the problem shouldn’t, and usually can’t, be ignored.

Dental problems are not always ‘black and white’ though, and there are many problems that can occur somewhere in between. These are often issues that might be considered to be mildly uncomfortable or inconvenient. In situations like this, some patients will simply leave the problem until it is time for their next check up, often making a mental note to let us know about it.

Is this the right approach?

The answer to this is almost certainly no. As our Burton dental team will tell you, ignored dental problems, even relatively minor ones, will not improve, and, in almost all circumstances, will worsen, sometimes resulting in the need for more extensive treatment. Even if your appointment is only a few weeks away, we recommend that you have any issues checked out when they occur. After all, if your memory fails you during your check up, you may even go several more months before your dentist is aware of any problems. At this stage, you may be in significant discomfort.

What can happen?

Let us take a look at some examples of ‘minor’ problems that tend to be ignored by some patients, and look at what the result may be if they are not treated reasonably promptly.

Sore Gums

Some patients may feel that because their gums are a little sore, they have perhaps cut them on a sharp piece of food or caught them with their toothbrush or floss. Whilst this can happen, if the soreness lasts for more than a day or two, there is likely to be a more significant reason, and that is gum disease.

Gum disease is a progressive problem, and, if not reversed, can lead to some serious oral health issues. Not only it is likely to become more uncomfortable, with possible bleeding, but can threaten the security of the teeth in the affected area, eventually leading to damage of the supporting bone. Many early stage problems can be reversed with better home cleaning, but we certainly recommend that you have your gum health checked by seeing our dental hygienist.

Chipped tooth

Chipping a tooth may not necessarily mean that it will need restorative treatment. A very small chip need not compromise the enamel layer, although it may produce a sharp edge that can lead to cuts and grazes on the lips and tongue, making them rather sore. It is always worth having even the smallest of chips examined by your dentist. Where the chip is very tiny, but sharp, they may be able to smooth this for you for better comfort. Where a chip is more significant, it may be possible to restore it using cosmetic bonding, or, for larger chips or breaks, a dental crown.

Chipping  a tooth can lead to it becoming weaker. Under duress, it may cause the tooth to break or crack badly, allowing bacteria to enter the more porous dentin layer. As this advances, toothache may follow as decay sets in. Root canal infections are also possible.

Minor toothache

How many of us have had a slight throbbing or niggling pain that we have hoped would go away? This is probably the case for a lot of us, but very few of us will be able to say that the toothache disappeared of its own accord. The reality is that toothache, however minor, almost certainly indicates that something is wrong and worthy of investigation.

It is always best to have even a minor toothache examined as soon as you possibly can. Where toothache exists it is very possible that a cavity does too. The longer you leave a problem like this, the larger the cavity becomes, and, therefore, the larger the filling that will be needed. At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we believe in minimally invasive dentistry and treating a cavity as early as possible will enable us to retain as much of the natural tooth as we possibly can.

These are just a few common examples of issues that are sometimes ignored by patients, leading to necessary treatment being delayed. Don’t let you oral health suffer because you think your dental problem isn’t significant enough to warrant seeing a dentist. We are here to help our patients maintain the best oral health possible and early intervention plays a key role in this.

If you have even a ‘minor dental issue’, remember that our team of Burton dentists are here to help you. You can make an appointment to see us by calling us on 01283 845345.