Oral health is one of those things that people might not take note of until backed into a painful corner. The discomfort of a toothache and tooth sensitivity caused by hot or cold foods and fluids can make someone suddenly sit up and take notice. It almost seems human nature to ignore things until they get bad.

Pain itself is still not fully understood since it is hidden beneath the complexities of the brain and layers of synaptic and cellular communication.

“[Pain is] a witch’s brew of different factors, complex by nature (not just coincidence or bad luck). At the very least, pain always has a layer of brain-generated complexity. At the worst, the pain system can malfunction in several colorful ways, causing pain that is much more intense and interesting than just a symptom,” according to Pain Science.

A toothache should never be ignored, according to an Aetna blog. The sensitivity can have a number of causes, including a damaged filling,  broken tooth, abscess, cavity or grinding of teeth. A dentist is the only person who can discover the cause and treat the issue.

The best approach to dental issues is to avoid them altogether or to have them addressed as soon as symptoms present themselves.

According to the Canadian Dental Association, any chronic infection – including one in the mouth – is serious “yet bleeding or tender gums are often overlooked.”

Any kind of sores, discolorations or difficulties swallowing or chewing should be promptly reported to a dentist, as according to Reader’s Digest reporting. Dentists were able to provide early diagnosis of a disease known to be both surreptitious and nefarious: oral cancer.

Nearly 4,700 Canadians were diagnosed and the disease is famous for being difficult to spot early-on, according to the article.

The Canadian Dental Association notes that the warning signs of oral cancer include sores that are open or bleeding that don’t heal, patches that are red or white, tingling sensation or numbness, and “small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or on your gums.”

Discovering blood in your mouth after flossing or brushing is abnormal and a common sign of periodontal disease. Receding gums – while somewhat normal with aging – should also be noted and discussed with your dentist.

Hardened plaque collects on teeth like cement. Technically called calculus, only a dental professional is qualified to remove it.

So, what steps can people take at home to help their dentists keep their mouths healthy?

First and foremost, never ignore any pain – head to your downtown Ottawa dentist and have a qualified professional assess your oral health. Always get regular check-ups, even if everything seems okay. The keen eye of a qualified professional can catch things most people cannot.

According to Aetna, there are some simple ways to maintain oral health between checkups: Brush daily, for at least two minutes each time, using a soft bristled toothbrush since firm bristles can injure the gums; floss at least once daily; provide diligent care for dentures as you would your natural teeth in order to keep your gums healthy.

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