Commonly Asked Questions About Dentistry and Potential Issues
These are some of the most common dental questions and concerns that prospective patients have.
Q: I’ve had a sensitive tooth for a while. Now I have what looks like a pimple on the gum. What is that?
A: It is called a parulis, or gum boil. It’s your body’s attempt to drain the infection from around the tooth. This situation is serious and requires an immediate evaluation and treatment by a dentist.
Q: I’m 35 and see dark spots at the tops of my teeth, right below the gum. Are these cavities? They’re a little sensitive when I brush my teeth.
A: They might be cavities; however they might be exposed root surface due to gum recession. Your dentist will be able to determine what these spots are and help you correct the sensitivity.
Q: My teeth hurt in the morning but are better by late evening. What does this mean?
A: Most likely, you are clenching and grinding your teeth in your sleep. Try relaxation techniques before bedtime. If that doesn’t help, a professionally fabricated night guard can decrease symptoms. You want to make sure the bruxing doesn’t get worse, since it can cause chipped and broken teeth.
Q: My teeth don’t hurt, but my gums bleed when I brush. Is this serious?
A: Yes. You may be seeing signs of gum disease. Call your dentist as soon as possible. Many teeth are lost due to untreated periodontal disease.
Q: My tooth hurts when I eat hot and cold things. Is my tooth bad?
A: Usually when a tooth is severely sensitive to both hot and cold, it indicates a bad nerve in the tooth. Symptoms with a nerve going bad get markedly worse over time. If it is the nerve, it will require either a Root Canal or an extraction to treat it. See a dentist in the near future to have it evaluated.
Q: I use snuff and found a funny, whitish crease where I hold the snuff. Should I worry?
A: Maybe. That’s what is called a “snuff pouch”. It ‘s a pre-cancerous lesion of soft tissue that could become oral cancer. Have it carefully and thoroughly evaluated by a dentist. Do it soon.
Q: I’ve had dental infections off and on for 5 years. I usually borrow antibiotics from my sister or my cousin. After a couple of days the pain goes away and I forget about it until the next time. Last week I had a big infection, so I went to the dentist. She said I was putting myself in danger. Why would she say that? I’ve been using antibiotics for years.
A: She’s right. The repeated use of antibiotics kills off the susceptible bacteria of your infection and leaves the resistant ones to repopulate. You have a very real risk of developing a “super infection” that won’t respond to regular antibiotics. It can be life threatening and is a very serious development.
Did You Know These Three Interesting Dental Facts?
1. Dentists can recognize subtle signs of many undetected diseases, just by examining teeth and gums.
Source: Mayo Clinic, “Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health”, February 2011
2. People with gum disease are statistically more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease.
Inflammation associated with a periodontal condition also appears to exacerbate existing heart disease.
Source: American Academy of Periodontology, February 23, 2011
Untreated gum disease makes stabilizing blood sugar levels difficult. When the periodontal condition improves, so does the blood glucose stability. Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments”. NIH Publication No, 11-1142, July 2011
The content of Dr. Steven Curry’s “Commonly Asked Questions” Q&A Page is intended as general information only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation by your dentist.