Should You Ignore ‘Irritating’ Dental Problems?

Do you call your dentist when you have a minor problem or wait until your next appointment?

It wouldn’t be stretching the truth to say that most people would rather not go to the dentist if they could get away with it. Thankfully, most of our Burton patients recognise that doing so is important to maintain a healthy mouth and retain a strong and functional set of teeth. Even if we are diligent in our home oral care and keep our six monthly check up appointments, there may be other occasions when we might need to make an additional appointment if a problem arises between them.

The difficulty some people have is knowing when to call the dentist for an appointment and when to simply leave it until the next one is due. Generally speaking, we would say that you should call Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, even for minor problems, unless, for example, your next appointment was within a week or so.

The problem with ignoring minor dental issues is that they rarely go away, and in most cases will become worse over time. This could well mean that any treatment you need will be more extensive than if you had consulted us about it when you first noticed it.

‘Minor’ dental problems

Whilst it is possible to have discomfort in a tooth that isn’t serious, such as if a piece of food temporarily gets lodged between the tooth and gum; in many cases, it is likely to be an indication of a problem that is just starting. It is in your interest to have this checked by one of our dental team so that we can treat it as soon as possible and prevent it from deteriorating.

A few of the common problems that can be caused by leaving a ‘minor’ issue for a period of time follow.

Tooth decay

Although you may not be aware that it is tooth decay that is causing a minor discomfort, but one that persists, there is a good chance that it is just that. If the pain level is fairly minor, you might be able to live with it or suppress it using painkillers but just because the pain is manageable doesn’t mean that there isn’t a problem. In many cases, small amounts of decay can be removed relatively easily and can be filled with a small dental filling. If you ignore the problem for some time though, the decay will spread and you will almost certainly need a larger filling at least. If it has become too significant, you may even need a crown to restore the tooth to a suitable level of strength.

Root canal infection

This often occurs as bacteria continue from the dentin part of the tooth into the root canals. This is another reason why you shouldn’t ignore any initial discomfort. Not only will decay spread but if the infection does reach the root canals, you are likely to know all about it and could well be calling us for an emergency dental appointment! Once a root canal is infected in this way, a root canal procedure will be necessary.

Cracked or chipped teeth

This can happen in a number of ways including teeth grinding, accidents or even breaking a tooth on certain foods. Naturally, if any damage is significant, you are likely to contact the local dentist, but minor chips and cracks are often ignored, sometimes with devastating consequences. Any chip or crack in a tooth is likely to weaken it and when it encounters any force, such as when eating, the crack or chip could become larger. Over time, this could leave the tooth in a compromised state and could cause it to break away.

Minor cracks and chips can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the location and severity. Possible treatments include fillings, composite bonding, crowns and veneers. Not receiving these treatments soon enough could cause the tooth to break away in a manner that might mean extracting it is the only option available.

Sore gums

We might not associate painful gums with a serious problem but the likelihood is that it is an indication that gum disease is present. As any regular reader of Mike Allen’s blogs will be aware, this is more serious than many people realise and can lead to not only painful gums but unstable teeth, or even tooth loss. Thankfully, if detected early enough, gum disease is manageable through non-invasive regular professional cleaning. Please don’t leave it until you require a more invasive treatment such as root planing with a specialist.

Please remember, it is not an inconvenience to us to see you if you have what seems a relatively minor problem. We would rather do so than see you several months later to perform root canal surgery or similar treatments. Our aim is to help our Burton patients maintain a healthy mouth and if we need to see you for the occasional extra appointment, this is not a problem at all.

If you experience a minor toothache or chip or crack a tooth, please don’t leave it and, instead,  call Mike Allen’s Dental Practice for an appointment on 01283 845345.