My Symptoms

My teeth are sensitive every time I eat or drink something cold. What could that mean?

Cold sensitivity can indicate several different conditions. Gum recession, tooth decay, clenching and grinding the teeth can all cause cold sensitivity. This should be evaluated by a dentist and is often treated by applying a desensitizer on an exposed root surface, placement of a filling in a decayed tooth or making a guard to protect the teeth at night. The good news is that cold sensitivity is usually reversible. Sensitivity that disappears quickly after the offending stimulus is removed has a better prognosis than sensitivity that lingers, which begins to indicate the nerve in a tooth may be irreversibly involved and in need of a root canal.

My teeth are sensitive every time I consume a hot beverage or hot soup. What could that mean?

Heat sensitivity is generally more ominous than cold sensitivity, especially if the pain lingers. This is often a sign that a nerve is dying in a tooth. Teeth with heat sensitivity should be evaluated by a dentist as soon as possible. Heat sensitivity associated with pain on biting and/or swelling should be looked after without delay and may indicate an infection of a tooth and the underlying bone.

My gums bleed profusely every time I brush and floss. Should I be concerned?

Bleeding gums, for the most part, indicate that there is local accumulation of food, plaque (bacteria and food) or tartar around the teeth. The gums react by becoming inflamed, a condition called gingivitis. If you leave the accumulations there for any length of time and you have a genetic propensity to develop gum disease, bone loss and gum infection may ensue, leading to a condition called periodontitis.
Gingivitis is remedied by having a professional cleaning and instituting fastidious brushing and flossing habits, sometimes accompanied by special rinses. If bone loss and infection are present, the treatment can also involve the placement of medicine directly under the gum, and possibly surgical intervention. So it is better to take care of this problem earlier than later. Occasionally, bleeding gums can indicate systemic disease and is also frequent in pregnant patients.

I have trouble sleeping, my wife tells me I snore loudly and I often doze during the day. What could that mean?

These can be signs of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious problem, and left untreated, it can lead to or worsen high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, among other illnesses. Schedule an appointment for a sleep consultation. You may also be referred to a sleep laboratory for more comprehensive analysis. If appropriate, a dental sleep appliance can be made for you that helps to open your airway while sleeping and decreases snoring.

The sides of my face hurt, and my jaw clicks and sometimes locks so that it won’t open all the way. What could that mean?

You could be suffering from a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) called a “disc displacement,” which might also be complicated by the fact that you are likely grinding or clenching your teeth at night. The intermittent locking signifies a potential need for future surgical correction if treatment is not sought. A comprehensive TMD consultation should help address these concerns, along with a detailed medical and dental history, examination of the joints themselves and the muscles that control the jaw and any necessary imaging studies (x-rays, CT or MRI) so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Only then can sensible treatment recommendations be given. Treatment often involve an intraoral appliance, medication and physical therapy.

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