Signs of a Dental Problem

Nobody plans for a dental problem, but they do happen. When they do, they can be worrisome. Dental problems can appear to come on suddenly, and many can be painful. However, several types of oral health conditions can often be prevented, or at least treated before they cause trouble, by seeing your dentist in Reno at least twice a year. If you’re in between dental visits, keep an eye out for some of the common signs of a dental problem. 

What Are Some Symptoms That Require a Visit to the Dentist? 

It’s important to know that any new discomfort or pain in the mouth is often a sign that something isn’t quite right. It’s also important to recognize that some symptoms could mean several different things. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, you should see your dentist in Reno as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.  


The term toothache is commonly used as a way to describe pain in or around a tooth. This discomfort can be constant or can come in waves, especially when we eat or drink something hot or cold. Toothaches can also cause pain in the jaw, ear, cheeks, or forehead. Many different things can cause a toothache. Some of them include: 

  • Cavities
  • Dental trauma such as a broken tooth
  • Failing fillings
  • Gum recession
  • Abscess
  • Jaw injury
  • Gum disease

Bad Breath

Bad breath, also called halitosis, can happen to anyone, especially after a particularly fragrant meal. But chronic bad breath can sometimes be a sign or result of something more serious than a dish of garlicky pasta. Additionally, besides oral health concerns, bad breath can affect self-confidence and even cause anxiety. Unfortunately, gum, mints, and mouthwashes may only temporarily mask bad breath. Bad breath can result from: 

  • Tobacco use
  • Dry mouth
  • Some medications
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
  • Certain cancers
  • Infections in the mouth, nose, or sinuses

Sensitive Teeth

If you’ve ever experienced that uncomfortable, sudden surge of shooting pain through your teeth, chances are you have sensitive teeth. This sensitivity may not always be present, but it can increase with certain things such as eating or drinking something hot, cold, or sweet, or brushing your teeth. Sensitive teeth are often the result of enamel erosion when the tooth roots are exposed. But other things can cause sensitive teeth. 

  • Cavities
  • Chipped or cracked tooth
  • Gum disease
  • Failing fillings
  • Brushing too hard
  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum recession

Bleeding Gums

A common misconception is that it’s normal for gums to bleed, especially during a dental checkup. After all, your hygienist is poking and prodding at your gums. How can they not bleed? The truth is, healthy gums don’t bleed, even during a professional dental cleaning. Bleeding gums are often a sign of gum disease. Gum disease can be reversed if caught early, but if it’s not, it could lead to tooth loss. Make sure to see your dentist in Reno if you notice: 

  • Bleeding gums
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pain when you chew
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth

Some of the best ways to prevent a dental problem from suddenly popping up include brushing and flossing your teeth every single day, eating a well-balanced diet, quitting using any type of tobacco product, and seeing your dentist twice a year. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

What Does Oral Cancer Look Like?

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, a time when healthcare professionals come together to raise awareness of this sometimes deadly condition.Oral cancer isn’t necessarily a death sentence and can often be treated successfully when it’s caught early. Of course, your dentist in Reno wants to do everything we can to help the cause, so we’re listing out a few things to look out for when it comes to oral cancer. 

Visible Signs of Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be tricky to detect because it can often look like other things that aren’t so serious. However, any one of these particular signs could be a cause for concern. If you see any of these common signs of oral cancer, you should call your dentist in Reno as soon as possible, especially if they don’t go away on their own after two or three weeks. 

  • Chronic cough
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side 
  • A hard lump in the soft tissues
  • Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
  • A painless lump on the outside of the neck
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2-weeks
  • Discoloration in the mouth, including a red, white, or black appearance

Early Detection is Key

Yes, oral cancer can be deadly. However, it can often be treated very successfully. But the key to successful treatment is to catch it early. During your regular visits to your dentist in Reno, your dental team will look for any concerning areas and monitor any changes that may require more evaluation. You should also keep an eye on your oral health at home to monitor changes in your mouth. Check Your Mouth has some great resources that you can, and should, use to periodically check your mouth for problems. 

Why Does Oral Cancer Occur? 

The truth is that anyone can get oral cancer. But there are certain things that increase the risk. Some of them are controllable, others are not. 

  • Age: People over 50 years old are more likely to get oral cancer 
  • Tobacco Use: 80% of people who get oral cancer are those who use tobacco products
  • Drinking Alcohol: Almost 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women

Oral cancer is a serious condition that results in nearly 11,600 deaths in America every year. It can affect the tongue, tonsils, gums, and other parts of the mouth. For this reason, and many others, we recommend seeing your dentist in Reno every six months for regular exams. 

How Does Nutrition Affect Oral Health?

What we put into our bodies can certainly affect how we feel and how healthy we are overall. But eating the right foods can not only fuel your body, but it can also enhance your oral health. During this National Nutrition Month, your dentist in Reno dentist wants to help all of our patients know just how important proper nutrition is to oral health. 

What is Proper Nutrition? 

The basics of eating right include reducing fat and sugar intake while increasing the amount of nutrient-rich foods. But how much of what things should your child be eating? That’s where things aren’t so simple. Ever since the original Food Pyramid Guide was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992, nutritional recommendations have shifted. The current standards are reflected in MyPlate and vary depending on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. However, most of the common rules of thumb remain the same including focusing on eating plenty of: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

How Are Nutrition and Oral Health Related? 

The body’s response to eating “bad” foods and drinks increases the likelihood of someone experiencing oral health issues and diseases. Let’s look at foods that are high in sugar, for example. Sweets and beverages like soda and even juices packed with sugar attack tooth enamel. If the sugar is not rinsed away or is left exposed to the teeth for long periods of time, it will work away at and erode the protective tooth layer called the enamel. Without this barrier, teeth are more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity. Although almost every food contains some amount of sugar, even the good foods we’re supposed to eat, try your best to stay away from items that have added sugars and remember to read nutritional labels. 

Beware of Hidden Sugars

The sugar content in the sweeter-tasting foods that you choose for you and your family isn’t the only thing your dentist in Reno is wary of. There are hidden sugars everywhere, even in things that don’t taste sweet. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can actually raise blood glucose levels and affect the body the very same way actual sugar does. Since these carbs end up breaking down into simple sugars, they put teeth at the same risk for decay as eating a sweet treat. 

Eat Well, Protect Smiles 

The main goal for your dentist in Reno is to keep patients healthy by being a key member of their healthcare team. Encouraging a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to ensure not only a healthy body but also a healthy mouth.

Does Green Beer Stain Your Teeth?

Some of the most common ways people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are by wearing a bunch of green, maybe going to a parade, and oftentimes, drinking beer. It’s also likely that you’ll be able to find many bars and restaurants serving green beer, after all, this is one of the biggest drinking holidays all year. However, this green beer, and alcohol in general, can affect your teeth. While your dentist in Reno supports celebrating St. Paddy’s Day as you wish, we do encourage enjoying the day responsibly and reducing your risk of the negative oral health side effects of drinking. 

Tooth Staining

Green beer can certainly stain your teeth as well as your lips and tongue. But this staining is only temporary and should easily disappear after you brush your teeth, ideally with a slightly abrasive whitening toothpaste. However, drinking beer and other types of alcohol, even if they’re not a bright vibrant green, can still cause tooth discoloration. Consuming alcohol regularly can make teeth look yellow or even brown. Darker drinks such as stouts and porters are more likely to lead to discoloration. Now, tooth discoloration that occurs from drinking alcohol over a long period of time probably won’t be removed by brushing your teeth. In this case, you may want to consider talking to your dentist in Reno about your cosmetic dentistry options including veneers or professional smile whitening.

Damage to Enamel 

Sugar is often labeled as the worst thing for teeth, but acidic foods and drinks can also cause damage. When acid is introduced into the mouth, it can wear away tooth enamel. Without this protective barrier, teeth may become increasingly sensitive and can even appear discolored or thin. So what’s this have to do with drinking beer? Well, beer is quite acidic, and drinking too much of it can wear down enamel. 

Gum Disease

While enjoying a drink or two during St. Patrick’s Day probably won’t cause gum disease, drinking alcohol excessively could. Many types of alcohol contain a lot of sugar, and as we know, sugar is one of the worst things for teeth. Sugar found in drinks and food feeds bacteria in the mouth and can form plaque. Plaque is a super sticky film that can be removed by simply brushing your teeth, but if you don’t remove plaque by brushing, it will harden into tartar. Tartar can’t be removed at home, and only your hygienist can clear it away with a professional dental cleaning. Tartar buildup also leaves bacteria free to infect the gum tissue and cause gum disease.   

Reduce The Risk

There are different things you can do to enjoy your St. Paddy’s celebration and protect your teeth at the same time. Drinking alcohol in moderation and alternating a cup of beer with a glass of water will help wash away sugars and acid and reduce the risk of tooth staining, enamel erosion, and gum disease. Of course, we also recommend seeing your dentist in Reno twice a year and brushing and flossing every day. 

Are Dental Implants Painful? 

Dental implants are a permanent solution to replace a missing tooth or several teeth and can be used as an alternative to removable dentures and bridges. However, dental implants do require surgery which can make some patients uneasy, especially when it comes to not knowing if the procedure is painful. Rest assured that your dentist in Reno is always here to help and is happy to explain what to expect during your dental implant treatment. 

Dental Implant Procedure

While all implant procedures have similar steps, they do vary depending on the individual situation. Sometimes, patients will already be missing a tooth while other times a tooth will need to be removed before an implant can be placed. Additionally, there are times when patients need a bone graft first in order to reinforce the strength of the jaw bone. But once the area is prepared, your dentist will start the actual placement of an implant. 

  • Placing the Post

The first step in having a full dental implant is placing the implant post. This post is made of metal and it is similar to a screw. This post is placed into the jaw bone and provides a solid base as well as acts a natural tooth root. After the post is placed, there is a recovery period of a few months. This time is necessary to allow the implant post to fuse into the jaw bone. 

  • Placing the Crown

The actual tooth-like portion of an implant procedure is called the crown. The crown is custom made to match other teeth so the restoration is seamless. But before the crown can be attached, your dentist will add an abutment on top of the post to serve as almost a pedestal for the crown to sit. The final result is a strong, permanent tooth replacement. 

Dental Implant Pain

When it comes to the pain involved with getting a dental implant, it can vary from person to person, and any pain is typically reserved for immediately after the post placement. During the actual surgery, patients shouldn’t feel any pain as the area will be completely numb. In recovery, there may be some pain for about 10 days. If persistent pain continues after 10 days, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Reno. Pain after the 10-day healing period could be a sign of an infection or other problem so it’s important to get care quickly. 

Anyone missing a tooth or several teeth can benefit from a dental implant consultation. Additionally, if a tooth is at risk of being lost or needing an extraction, you should talk with your dentist in Reno about all of your tooth replacement options. 

What to Expect After Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Your wisdom teeth tend to erupt between the age of 17 and 21, but they can make an appearance earlier or later. Many times, your dentist in Reno will recommend having wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth extractions are incredibly common and can help maintain oral health. However, it is a type of oral surgery, and there is recovery time after the procedure. Here are some things you can expect after getting your wisdom teeth removed. 

What to Know Following Wisdom Teeth Surgery

While each patient’s case will be different and aftercare can vary from person to person, there are some key things all patients should be prepared for following wisdom teeth surgery. 

  • Rest

Many patients will recover from wisdom teeth surgery in about three days, but it’s important to rest during this time to help promote healing. Avoid any type of strenuous activity for at least 48-72 hours.

  • Ice

Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling. Swap out new ice packs often, and remember to use a thin washcloth or material to serve as a barrier between the ice and your skin. 

  • Clean

Keeping the surgical sites clean is incredibly important to prevent infection, and your dentist may recommend a specific rinse to use. However, your dentist in Reno recommends that you swish gently to help prevent dry sockets. 

  • Medicate

If you’re provided and instructed to take any type of medication such as pain relievers or antibiotics, make sure to follow any and all instructions. 

When to Call Your Dentist

Even though most wisdom teeth extractions don’t have complications, there are some things to keep an eye out for. If you notice any of the following, contact your dentist or oral surgeon. 

  • Excessive pain, bleeding, or swelling after three days
  • Pus coming out of the surgical site or nose
  • A fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Facial numbness

What to Avoid Having Wisdom Teeth Removed

There are also some limitations on what you should and shouldn’t do during your recovery. 

  • Don’t
    • Drink from straws for at least two days
    • Smoke 
    • Eat hard or sticky foods
  • Do
    • Eat soft foods like soup, yogurt, and applesauce
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Gently open and close your mouth to help restore jaw movement

While any type of surgery can cause concern, rest assured knowing that wisdom teeth removal is an incredibly common procedure. If your wisdom teeth are causing you trouble, or even if they aren’t, it’s wise to consult your dentist in Reno about the best treatment for your overall oral health moving forward. 

What Causes Ulcers in The Mouth?

If you’re one of the estimated 20% of people who happen to develop mouth ulcers, you know just how uncomfortable and painful they can be. The good news is that ulcers in the mouth tend to go away on their own within about two weeks, are usually harmless, and don’t necessarily need treatment from your dentist in Reno. However, naturally, you may be wondering what caused an ulcer in the first place. 

What Can Cause a Mouth Ulcer?

An ulcer in the mouth is one of those things that may not have a known cause, but we do know that there are things that can contribute to an ulcer developing such as ill-fitting dentures or accidentally biting your cheek or tongue. On the other hand, if there is no obvious case of an injury, ulcers can develop as a result of: 

  • Increased stress
  • Anxiety
  • Hormones
  • Genes
  • Eating foods that are too spicy, acidic, or salty

Additionally, people with certain medical conditions may be at increased risk of getting an ulcer. Some of the medical conditions  that can contribute to ulcer development include: 

  • Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Iron or vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Viruses 
  • Lupus

If you have one of these conditions, make sure to tell your dentist in Reno

Mouth Ulcer Treatment

Many times, ulcers and their symptoms can be treated at home by rinsing your mouth out with warm salt water a few times a day, avoiding spicy foods, or using an over-the-counter topical anesthetic. For severe ulcers, you are prescribed corticosteroids or antiseptic treatments. 

When to See a Dentist for an Ulcer

Most ulcers should disappear within 10-14 days. But if an ulcer lasts longer than 20 days, you should schedule an appointment with your Reno dentist. Other signs to look out for are: 

  • Sores without pain
  • Big ulcers
  • Fever
  • Ulcers on the outside lips

Is a Mouth Ulcer Cancer? 

While an ulcer in the mouth can be a sign of oral cancer, this usually only applies to a few cases. Ulcers associated with oral cancer are most commonly under or on the tongue, but they can develop anywhere in the mouth. While any type of cancer is certainly concerning, oral cancer can often be treated successfully, especially when it’s caught early.

Having an ulcer in your mouth can certainly be concerning, be rest assured that oftentimes it will go away on its own and typically isn’t a sign of a larger problem. However, if you’re experiencing an ulcer that’s stuck around longer than three weeks or are simply worried about any ulcer, see your dentist in Reno. We’re always happy to help and believe that extra precaution is better than waiting too long.

How to Help Keep Teeth Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

We’re headed into the peak of cold and flu season, which typically comes with stuffy noses, sore throats, fevers, and loads of medicine to help ease symptoms. But did you know that any sickness from the common cold to the flu can also put oral health at risk, too? Your dentist in Reno has some steps you can take whenever you are feeling under the weather to help you feel better and protect your teeth. 

Continue to Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth regularly is important to do every day, especially if you’re sick. Regular brushing can help keep teeth clean and wash away bacteria in the mouth. Even if you’re so sick that you feel that you can’t get out of bed, try your best to continue brushing your teeth twice a day. 

Stay Hydrated

You’ll often hear your doctor and dentist in Reno tell you to make sure you drink plenty of fluids during any illness. Following this advice is beneficial for many reasons. Staying hydrated helps replenish fluids that are lost during the illness such as through vomiting, sweating, and simply not feeling well enough to eat or drink normally. Another reason to drink fluids, preferably water, is to combat dry mouth. Dry mouth is common when a nose is too stuffy to breathe out of and someone resorts to mouth breathing. Additionally, some medications can also cause dry mouth. Dry mouth isn’t only uncomfortable but it can also increase the risk of bacteria buildup and decay.

Gargle with Salt Water

A simple and effective way to help you in multiple ways when you’re sick is to gargle with warm salt water. Symptoms such as a sore throat or painful swallowing can be alleviated with a few quick swishes of salt water. Also, salt water can help remove germs in the mouth. 

Choose Sugar-Free When Possible

Many medications from cough syrup to throat lozenges contain sugar, and as everyone knows, your dentist in Reno really doesn’t like sugar. Sugar feeds mouth bacteria and allows them to flourish in the mouth, increasing the likelihood of cavities and other tooth troubles. Cough syrup and lozenges are particularly concerning because they can essentially coat teeth with sugar. Try to find medications that don’t have sugar. When in doubt, rinse your mouth out with water after taking medicine or sucking on a lozenge.  

Change Your Toothbrush

The general rule of thumb is to toss any toothbrush that was used during an illness. While some research speculates that it may not be necessary, we believe that it’s better safe than sorry. You should also make sure to replace toothbrushes that are more than 3 or 4 months old. 

As we enter what’s typically the height of cold and flu season, take proactive steps to protect you and your family from germs, viruses, and bacteria by washing your hands regularly, sneezing or coughing into your elbow, and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces. If your family does get sick, make sure to protect your oral health while you’re working on feeling better.

What Does The Early Stage of Gum Disease Look Like? 

When your dentist in Reno talks about gum disease, we’re not just talking about its risks to oral health. The truth is, gum disease has also been linked to several whole-body concerns, such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer. However, there is good news. Gum disease can be treated and reversed if it’s caught in the early stages. Therefore, it’s important to know what the early stages of gum disease look like. 

Two Main Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease can be broken down into two main stages – gingivitis and periodontitis. 

  • Gingivitis

The very first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. It’s during this stage when your dentist in Reno can often treat and reverse gum disease successfully. However, the trick is to catch it in this early stage. Some ways you may be able to tell that you have gingivitis are by looking out for the following signs:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Bad breath

Keep in mind that sometimes gingivitis won’t show many or any symptoms. It’s important to always see your dentist every six months so they can monitor changes in oral health and catch potential problems early. 

  • Periodontitis 

If gingivitis isn’t treated and it progresses into periodontitis, the chances of the disease being reversed become less and less likely, if not impossible. Periodontitis essentially means that more than just the gum tissues are affected at this point, and it’s now worked its way into the bone. There are various stages of periodontitis. 

Stage 1: Gums will start to pull away from the teeth, known as gum recession. This creates pockets where food and bacteria can settle in. The connective tissues between teeth and bone are minorly affected. 

Stage 2: Gum recession and bone loss continue to become more noticeable and extreme in the second stage of periodontitis. Teeth may also become loose or wiggly. 

Stage 3: The advanced stage of periodontitis is a classification used when there is more than 50% bone loss. There’s also a good chance that some teeth have already fallen out, and more will follow. 

Avoiding Gum Disease

The most common cause of gum disease is poor dental hygiene, so one of the best ways to avoid getting gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Avoid smoking or using any type of tobacco. Lastly, it’s crucial that you see your dentist in Reno twice a year for preventive checkups, cleanings, and x-rays so they can keep an eye out for the early signs of gum disease and treat it proactively. 

Can Sinus Pressure Feel Like a Toothache?

Allergies can be triggered at any time of the year. In turn, sinuses can be affected, causing discomfort in many different areas. Sinus pressure or a sinus infection can have various symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, pressure in the eyes, discomfort around the cheeks, and tooth pain. But as your dentist in Reno knows, any type of tooth pain can cause concern. So let’s examine the different ways you can differentiate between a toothache caused by sinuses versus a toothache caused by a dental problem.

Why Can Sinuses Cause a Toothache?

Sinusitis, which is more commonly known as sinus inflammation or a sinus infection, can be a result of many different things. Anything from an upper respiratory infection to a cold or the flu can cause sinus inflammation. Usually, whenever there is inflammation, there is pain. The same goes for sinuses. When there is inflammation in the sinuses, everything close by can feel the effects, including the teeth. You see, the sinus cavity isn’t only in the nose, as often thought, but it’s also located in the forehead, behind the eyes, and in the tooth roots of the upper back molars. Therefore, the swelling and inflammation of the sinuses can cause pain in any of those areas.

The Difference Between Sinus Pain & Toothaches

Knowing the difference between sinus pain in the teeth and an actual toothache can be hard, and if you’re in doubt, you should contact your dentist in Reno immediately. But, you can also use this guide to help you differentiate between the two. 

Sinus Infection Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Earache or headache
  • Pain when moving your head up or down

Toothache Symptoms

  • Pain in more than one tooth or that moves from tooth to tooth
  • Swelling
  • Pain in the lower teeth
  • Pressure-induced pain when pushing on a specific tooth
  • Pain when chewing

When to See a Dentist

If you have tooth pain, it’s normal to be concerned. However, if you also have symptoms of a sinus infection, you may want to wait a bit before seeing your dentist in Reno. While every toothache is of concern, one that goes away in a few days may be associated with a sinus infection. If the pain lasts or gets worse day after day, it’s time to see your dentist. Tooth pain that doesn’t go away may be a sign of something serious such as gum disease, cavities, an abscess, or problems with your jaw. By seeing your dentist, you can determine the cause of the pain and get treatment quickly. Keep in mind, most dental problems are best solved quickly before they have a chance to cause additional issues.

If you’re experiencing any type of tooth pain, we encourage you to call a dentist near you to get a closer look at what’s going on so you can get the best treatment and relieve your pain quickly.