Scheduling semi-annual checkup appointments is a great way to ensure your dental health is in check, but sometimes symptoms arise that require more immediate attention. In this article, we’re going to talk about the common oral health signs that indicate it’s time for a checkup.

1. Visible Tartar Buildup

Have you started to notice some unsightly whitish buildup around your gums that you can’t seem to get rid of? What you’re seeing is known as tartar. Forming when plaque is left on your teeth long enough to interact with the bacteria in your mouth and mineralize, tartar is most commonly found along the gumline at the base of the teeth. This usually occurs because of poor dental hygiene habits, or the lack of brushing around your gums due to sensitivity.

Once formed, tartar is extremely difficult to get rid of at home, generally requiring a dentist to effectively and safely remove the buildup. Aside from making you self-conscious about smiling, tartar can also cause gingivitis. If left untreated for a long enough period of time, gingivitis eventually can develop into periodontal disease, a much more serious problem.

2. You Experience Toothache

A toothaches can represent a number of different problems with your oral health. Teeth are incredibly strong and durable, which is why when you have a toothache, it’s your body’s way of saying that something is wrong and requires attention. These bothersome pains can be caused by problems such as a cavity, cracked tooth, infected gums, a damaged filling, or even something more serious.

At the first sign of a toothache, it’s best to take action and schedule a checkup right away. Though it can be easy to brush off if the ache is hardly noticeable, having your dentist take a look is the best way to prevent the problem from becoming worse. When left untreated, toothaches can cause irreversible damage like tooth decay, cavities, abscesses, and in the most extreme cases can result in tooth loss.

3. Chronic Bad Breath

Bad breath. Though this is something that everyone experiences at one point or another, chronic bad breath is a sign for various health problems. So long as you’re in good health and you’re not on any medications that may cause bad breath as a side effect, you can generally rule out other health issues and assume it’s stemming from an oral problem. Either way, a quick visit to the dentist will help you determine the root of the problem.

Caused when leftover food particles are broken down by the bacteria present in your mouth, bad breath is the product of unpleasant odors released during these reactions. Even when you brush and floss regularly, if you still experience bad breath, it’s a sign that you’re ready for a checkup so your dentist can check for any infections and give you a professional cleaning.

4. Bleeding Gums

Typically pink in color, the gums serve an important role in the mouth by helping it stay clean and by keeping your teeth protected. Anytime you experience bleeding or chronically inflamed gums, it’s a red flag that something isn’t right with your oral health. Even if they only bleed when you brush or floss, inflamed gums that are swollen and bright red are the body’s way of communicating that something isn’t right.

As one of the number one periodontal disease symptoms, it’s good practice to schedule a checkup at the first sign of bleeding or inflamed gums so your dentist can begin to rule out certain causes. When you put it off and just wait for them to get better, you run the risk of developing periodontal disease which is much more complex to deal with.

5. Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Temperatures

When you want to enjoy a cup of iced coffee in the morning or a hot slice of pizza for dinner, you shouldn’t have to worry about oral pain. This is most commonly caused by weakened enamel which makes your teeth more susceptible to damaging acids, or a cavity which is caused when tooth decay sets in. No matter how subtle or severe, if you have pain when you consume hot or cold food and beverages, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong.

Because these signs aren’t something that you can diagnose and treat yourself, we recommend scheduling a dental checkup for treatment as the best course of action. This is especially true because both worn down enamel and cavities can lead to permanent damage.