Visiting a dentist's office is not many people's idea of a fun time, but it's good to visit the dentist as he or she recommends, usually annually or even every six months, just for a checkup and thorough cleaning. While regular visits are important and can keep your mouth and teeth healthy, note when it's good to see a dentist even between these regular exams. This will ensure you aren't overlooking a potential dental emergency and are taking good care of your teeth and gums.

1. Significant swelling

You might notice a bit of redness and puffiness around the gums and inside the cheeks if you apply too much pressure with your floss or bite the inside of your cheeks. This usually subsides after a few hours or within a day, but if you notice significant swelling on any part of your mouth or gums, it's time to visit a dentist. This often means that you have an infection or abscess underneath a tooth and this can be very serious; an infection can spread in your body and also get worse if left untreated, potentially resulting in tooth loss.

2. Clicking, popping, and pain in the jaw

Your jaw may hurt from being clenched all day or even from an odd sleeping position, but if you have consistent jaw pain along with popping, clicking, and other such noises when you chew or talk, it's time to see the dentist. This may be what's called temporomandibular joint syndrome, or TMJ, and is often the result of inflammation or degeneration of the joint or hinge of the jaw itself. This is not likely to go away or be relieved over time but usually just gets worse; your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard and prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to contain the problem and alleviate the pain.

3. Cuts or wounds inside the mouth

A small nick on the inside of your cheek can heal on its own, but never put off having cuts and wounds inside the mouth treated, and do this quickly. Remember that the mouth holds a lot of germs and bacteria, even with the best oral hygiene habits, and these can settle into a cut or open sore and cause an infection very quickly. See an emergency dentist if a cut or wound is severe, as you may need stitches as well as a course of antibiotics to protect your overall oral health.

Whenever you experience these issues or other dental emergencies, don't hesitate to visit your local dental practice.