5 Things Your Mouth is Trying to Tell You
You may not think too much about your mouth on a day-to-day basis, despite how much work it does. It breaks down your food, helps you communicate with others, allows you to breathe – the list goes on! The only time you may really begin to notice your mouth is when something feels wrong. One of your teeth is a little tender when you bite down, you have a sore on the corner of your mouth, or maybe someone not-so-subtly informs you of your bad breath by handing you a mint. You may often dismiss these symptoms, and sometimes they go away on their own. Other times they indicate more severe underlying issues. Here are five common symptoms that mean your mouth is trying to tell you something.
No. 1: Bleeding or Irritated Gums
Bleeding gums should be an immediate red flag regarding your oral health. Commonly known as gingivitis, this damage to your gums is most commonly caused by plaque buildup around the base of your teeth. If left untreated, the disease can spread into the teeth and cause them to fall out, or even cause life-threatening infections in your heart and lungs.
Gums that are tender and inflamed are your mouth’s way of warning you early on that your mouth needs better cleaning. It’s best to let a professional do this cleaning so they can simultaneously inspect your mouth and gums for any other possible problem spots.
No. 2: Bad Breath
Also known as halitosis, bad breath is the scourge of first dates and job interviews alike. Bad breath can simply be from forgetting to brush your teeth on the way out the door, or it could indicate something more serious.
Bad breath can be caused by a wide variety of things, including poor teeth-brushing and flossing habits, tobacco use, dry mouth, or simply as a side effect of a medication. The first thing you should do if you start experiencing bad breath is to brush up on your dental hygiene and reflect on your lifestyle. Also, make an appointment with your dentist – especially if it has been a while – to reset your mouth back to its cleanest state.
If your bad breath continues despite your efforts, it might be worth making another appointment with a professional to try and isolate the issue. The source could be something more serious like an infection, tooth decay, or in rare circumstances, cancer.
No. 3: Pain and Tenderness
Some causes of pain are easy to diagnose, such as a soccer ball to the face. Others leave you guessing whether or not you are actually feeling any pain at all. The important thing is to monitor the pain. If the discomfort is localized, try to avoid aggravating it further by chewing food on it or poking it with your fingers. If the pain doesn’t subside after a few days, consult your dentist to find the root cause.
No. 4: Sores, Lumps and Other Things That Don’t Belong
Alright: Here is one of the more concerning symptoms that can appear in your mouth. If you start developing bleeding sores, irregular textures or lumps, or other significant abnormalities in your mouth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because of how late it is typically caught as people tend to ignore initial symptoms until they become serious. If you find something that feels weird or out of place in your mouth, it’s better to be safe and get it checked out.
No. 5: Discolored Teeth
Ever since you were young it was probably drilled into your head that you only get one set of teeth, so you had better take care of them. Part of taking care of them, beyond brushing and flossing, is to monitor their conditions. Enamel, the protective coating covering your teeth, can be worn away over time by overly aggressive brushing or by consuming corrosive foods and drinks. Once gone, there is no way for your body to regenerate enamel. Teeth without the protection of enamel can feel constantly painful and are particularly sensitive to heat and cold.
Make sure you brush with a soft brush and be gentle. Try to wait for an hour after eating before brushing to allow the enamel to re-harden after it weakens from excess saliva and acidic food. After brushing, carefully floss around each tooth to help get the most resistant gunk out of your mouth. A few minutes a day can save you endless suffering and money in the long run, plus you’ll have the added bonus of a winning smile.
Your mouth does its best to watch out for you, so you should do what you can to return the favor. The most important thing to remember is that it is easier to prevent damage than it is to fix it, but if something does need fixing your dentist can be your mouth’s best friend.