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

3. Ninety-five percent pf patients with diabetes have gum (periodontal) disease.
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.

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