How to spot dental issues?

Spotting dental issues is important before starting any treatments such as teeth straightening or whitening.

Dental problems like cavities and gum disease can be noticed within the mouth by a dentist, as well as through xrays. Here are some symptoms you may see yourself that are related to dental issues.

You can view free videos on the app on how to manage dental issues and their symptoms on the Toothfairy app, available to download the app from the Apple app store of Google Play Store.


Dental cavities form when bacteria dissolves the enamel around the teeth and starts to progress towards the central nerve within the tooth.

Symptoms such as sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks, as well as pain or discomfort on eating sugary foods may indicate a cavity.

The tooth can become to look dark in a certain area, and as the cavity progresses the mark can begin to become bigger.

It is important to detect cavities earlier before they progress into the nerve of the tooth and irritate the nerve, as this can require a root canal to be needed.

Dental decay can form on any surface of the tooth, where bacteria builds up. Hard to reach areas and in between teeth are at the most risk. Sometimes decay can also form under fillings. That’s why it is important to have an x-ray and a dental exam to check for such issues.


Improper cleaning and build up bacteria, can cause irritation of the gums and surrounding tissues. This can cause inflammation of the gums, which causes them to become red and swollen. You can notice bleeding on brushing and bad breath. Food and bacteria stuck between teeth can render the mouth to taste unpleasant.

As you can see here the gums around the teeth are red and swollen, with plaque and bacteria present at the neck of the teeth.

An individual with this type of poor plaque control would be advised to have a dental exam and a clean to remove the build up.

Gum Disease

If bacteria is left to build up, plaque that is soft turns into hard calculus which makes it difficult to remove.

This bacterial build-up releases toxins that damage the bone and the surrounding ligaments. This can be visualised with the teeth looking longer, gums receding, and the teeth starting to become mobile. Such teeth need urgent attention by a dentist, and a full treatment plan of deep cleaning and diet management is to be undertaken.

Sensitivity and Recession

Receding gums are a sign of either aggressive brushing which has rubbed the gums off, or gum disease. In gum disease, the gums follow the bone and move away from the teeth, following the loss of bone.

Management of recession can be done so via surgery or sometimes composite bonding to cover the teeth. Recession can render the teeth sensitive when whitening, or drinking any cold drinks. Whereas teeth straightening on gum disease teeth can be unpredictable, and with poor support render the teeth even more immobile

Last updated on February 20, 2024

Dr. Deepak Aulak

Dr. Deepak Aulak is a London-based dental practitioner with a special interest in cosmetic dentistry. Having graduated from King's College London in Dentistry, Dr. Aulak was decorated with over a dozen awards and scholarships along the way, which notably include the Jelf Medal, Malleson Prize for research and GKT Hospital's Full Shields.


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