NHS dentists: MPs debate availability in UK
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According to Bupa’s new Wellbeing Index, 25 percent of Britons said their dental health has “declined” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though you might hold off seeing your dentist until you notice something is wrong, you could be leaving it too late.
In fact, regular check-ups can help to stop problems before they get out of hand.
Faizan Zaheer, periodontist and implant dentist at Bupa Dental Care told Express.co.uk: “Unfortunately, many issues that need dental treatment don’t tend to cause pain in the early stages – and by the time they do, the problem may be more serious.
“Gum disease is an example of this as, if it’s left untreated, it can lead to bone loss around your teeth or dental implants, without you feeling any pain until it is too late.”
While pain might be a clear sign something is wrong, Mr Zaheer says there are other warning signals your mouth might be displaying.
Here are five signs you should see a dentist as soon as possible
You notice lumps and swelling in the mouth and tongue
Lumps or swelling in the mouth or on the tongue can be harmless, however, in some cases, they can be a sign of something more sinister.
Mr Zaheer explained: “If you have any lumps or swelling in the mouth or tongue, it’s important to contact your dentist and get this checked urgently.
“Most are completely harmless, but sometimes it could be something more serious, for example, the early signs of oral cancer are usually not painful.”
You have persistent ulcers
Ulcers come and go, and can be caused by something as simple as biting the inside of your mouth.
However, any persistent ulcers should be checked out by a professional.
Mr Zaheer told Express.co.uk: “Any ulcers in your mouth that don’t heal after 10 days, difficulty in swallowing, or major changes in taste sensation are all need to be things you watch out for.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be advisable to book a check-up with your dentist.”
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Your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth
Bleeding gums are widely acknowledged as a sign of gum disease, yet plenty of Britons put off visiting the dentist when they notice blood during brushing.
Mr Zaheer said: “Gum bleeding when you brush your teeth is most likely to indicate gum disease, often caused by food and bacteria, which can accumulate in the gum over a prolonged period in the form of dental plaque.”
If left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on both teeth and implants, with some people more susceptible to the condition than others.
Mr Zaheer explained: “As this does not cause pain, you may not know you have it.
“So, if your gums continue to bleed despite excellent cleaning, or if you notice your gums receding around teeth or implants, you should contact your dentist to get it checked to be on the safe side.”
In order to reduce the risk of gum disease, it is important to brush your teeth well and use interdental burgess or floss every day.
You want to keep on top of your oral and wider health
Even if you aren’t noticing any particularly unusual symptoms in your mouth, your dentist may be able to.
And it isn’t just your teeth that your dentist can help.
According to Mr Zaheer: “Many people may not know that your dentist can spot a whole lot during a regular check-up beyond the state of your teeth and gums, such as anaemia, Crohn’s disease, gastric reflux, leukaemia, and more.
“That’s one of the reasons dentists recommend you have a regular check-up, even if you think your teeth are fine; preventative care is the most effective and cost-efficient approach.
“Patients should see a dentist regularly, with intervals recommended by their dentist according to their oral health, to monitor and check the oral tissue and the teeth, which is the best prevention of any of the main issues.”
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