Dental Issues Can Actually be Medical Issues

When Dental Issues Are Actually Medical Issues

Generally speaking, if you are experiencing pain in your mouth, jaw, teeth, or gums you should contact your dentist to resolve these particular dental issues. 

However, oral pain can sometimes be indicative of a much different and sometimes more serious underlying medical issues.
Here is a recent example of such a case.

“All of My Teeth Hurt”

My assistant called me and told me that a patient just called complaining that all of his teeth hurt. I had not seen this patient for several years. Yes, he was overdue for his regular preventative care. Despite this fact, his statement was rather startling.

He complained further of general pain in his gums and even his tongue. He wanted to make an appointment for an exam to solve these dental issues. 

I was not in the office when he called and could sense the urgency of his request. Unfortunately, I could not help him.

You may ask, “why not?” The answer is quite simple.

I treat all sorts of dental issues and problems emanating from the teeth or gums. However, when everything hurts as described, the problem is not originating from the teeth. 

If every tooth hurts in the mouth, we are not dealing with a dental issue or problem. We are dealing with a medical issue that is manifested itself in the mouth. Teeth and gums together were uncomfortable. 

When everything hurts, I look outside the mouth for a source. 

This patient needs to see a physician for a full workup. Just because the chief complaint shows up in the mouth, does not always mean we have a tooth problem. Often this is the case but often is not always. My job is too sort out the complaints and find a cause.

Knowing that when everything is hurting may not be a dental problem brings up the question, when should you call the dentist? 

I will list some common dental issues which should prompt you to call your dental professional.

5 Common Dental Issues You Should Never Ignore

1. A Broken tooth: 

Whether there is pain or not, a breakdown in the integrity of the tooth, an evaluation is in order.

2. Sensitivity to temperature: 

A new sensation that causes you to stop eating and instinctively reach for your mouth requires investigation. It does not matter if the sensation causes discomfort for a few seconds or much longer.

3. Trapping food between your teeth: 

When trapping of food occurs on a regular basis, it creates an unhealthy situation. The embedding of pieces of food either represents a problem or will cause a problem if not remedied.

4. A change in tooth color: 

If you find a tooth starting to darken, so it stands out from its neighbors, the color change may be indicative of a dying tooth or an infection. A dying tooth needs treatment to avoid serious issues.

5. Lumps or swelling: 

If you run your tongue around your mouth and notice something sticking out, it’s time for a visit. Often an infection will be the cause of this enlargement or growth.

The Importance of Regular Self-Examination

I listened to a dermatologist speak today. He discussed the importance of a regular self-examination to find early signs for skin cancer. 

The same concept applies to dental care. 

Take time to look around and feel around your mouth. You should bring any change in your teeth or your mouth to the attention of a dental professional. 

The next time you notice or feel something different, please call Megan at 440.951.7856. She will help you arrange a visit to investigate your situation so we can resolve any dental issues you may be experiencing.

Jeffrey Gross, DDSFAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Comprehensive Care.

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