Problems with the teeth, gums and other tissues of your mouth can mean a wide range of dental and other health problems. Here are several common symptoms that people ask about.

If you are unsure of something in your mouth or if it hurts, visit your dentist.

Bleeding gums

If your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, or if bleeding persists for longer than three weeks, you may be in the early stages of gum disease and should see a dentist.

Remember though, if you’ve just started to floss, a little bleeding is normal.

Sensitive teeth

Teeth can be sensitive to hot, cold, sweetness, and pressure. Sensitivities can appear suddenly or slowly over time. If your teeth are sensitive it may mean you have a cavity or problems with your gums. Mention it to your dentist.

Loose teeth

This usually indicates advanced gum disease. The tooth may be saved if you see your dentist quickly.

Loose, uncomfortable dentures

Dentures occasionally need relining or refitting to accommodate changes in the mouth. If you delay this you risk tissue damage. Have your dentures checked regularly.

Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can save you from permanent tooth damage and unnecessary worry. Here are some of the most common dental emergencies and how to handle them.


First, using warm water, rinse your mouth out thoroughly. Then remove any bits of food wedged between your teeth with dental floss. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress on the outside of your cheek. Never put pain killer pills directly on the inflamed area. See a dentist as soon as you can.

Chipped or broken tooth

Using warm water, try to rinse out as much dirt as possible. Use a cold compress on the outside of your mouth or cheeks to keep the swelling down. See a dentist immediately.

Knocked-out tooth

First, try to stick the tooth back in place and hold it there while you rush to see the dentist. If that’s impossible, put the tooth in a container with milk or water and take it (and its owner) to the dentist immediately.

Badly bitten lip or tongue

Press a clean cloth against the bitten spot to control bleeding. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress. If bleeding continues, go to a hospital emergency department.

Something stuck between teeth

First, try using dental floss – very gently and carefully – to remove the object. Never poke between your teeth with a pin or similar sharp, pointy object; it can cut your gums or scratch the tooth surface. If you can’t get the object out, see your dentist.

Lost filling

You can temporarily protect your tooth from exposure by sticking a piece of sugarless chewing gum into the space where the filling was. Make sure it’s sugarless; sugar will probably cause pain and further problems. See a dentist as soon as possible.