With life getting busier by the minute, even something as quick and innocuous as a trip to the dentist can carve a major chunk out of your schedule. As such, it can be tempting to pop a painkiller and skip the dental appointment — but is that really safe to do? While you don't need to visit the dental surgery every time your teeth click together, you should certainly try to set aside time to visit if you feel there may be a problem. There are also some circumstances that should definitely warrant a visit as soon as possible. So, when should you set the time aside and immediately make that appointment?
Have your teeth, tongue or gums changed colour?
Colour changes can mean a wide variety of things, but often indicate that bacteria or other damage may be occurring. Chances are there's no problem — but it's better to be safe than sorry if you're seeing a visible change. You should take special care to look for white spots developing on your teeth, as this is a good indicator of decay.
Are you in pain?
It's never a wise idea to ignore a serious pain in your mouth. Even if you don't see a dentist straight away and the pain goes down after a few days, it could be a sign that your mouth has an infection, which still definitely needs to be treated. This goes for extra sensitivity to pressure and hot and cold foods, too. Don't just pop a painkiller — call and make an appointment.
Are your gums inflamed?
If your gums feel swollen or inflamed, don't wait. Book an appointment. This is commonly caused by a build-up of plaque beneath the surface of your gum line. In the worst case scenarios, if left untreated, this could lead to the loss of your tooth. However, there are a wide variety of reasons your gums may be swollen, so you should absolutely see the dentist to determine the problem and begin to fix it.
Is there a metallic taste in your mouth?
Don't panic. It's probably not blood — but a metallic taste can be indicative of gingivitis, which should be treated as soon as possible. If left unseen by a dentist, it could lead to persistent bad breath or even tooth loss.
Is your mouth persistently dry?
While it may seem an unusual thing for a dentist to treat, a consistently dry mouth could be caused by a build-up of dental bacteria. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it may cause bad breath, both in the short term and in the long run. Your dentist can help you with a solution, so make sure you book an appointment as soon as you notice.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and you should always call in to see a professional dentist if you feel there may be a problem with your teeth. You are the expert in your own health and are best positioned to notice any changes that occur outside of your regular bi-annual dental appointment. Trust your instincts, and keep your smile bright.