5 Most Common Dental problems
We don’t think much about our mouth and our teeth and what they do for us, despite the fact that we use them every day; biting, tearing, chewing, chatting, and smiling. So, why don’t we take better care of our mouths? The top 4 things we need to survive and thrive start with our mouth and nose. We don’t realize just how important they are until we lose them. Sometimes, no matter how much we try, dental problems can still arise.
After all, our mouths are a window into our bodies and are technically a living thing. You should always be on the lookout for warning signs that something is wrong with your teeth and gums, be proactive about getting them checked with your local dentist before you have pain. Today, we’re going to be chatting about some of the common dental problems, how you can spot them, and what you can do to treat them.
1. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is the most common problem that dentists treat. It is the #1 preventable childhood disease. It happens to almost everyone at least once in their lifetime – unless they are impeccable with your oral hygiene. Tooth decay is also known as a dental cavity. It happens when there is a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque ultimately converts sugars into acids, which then eat away at the enamel, creating holes on the tooth surface. In its early stage, it starts out as what is known as a decalcification or white spot.
How do you know if you have a cavity?
That is a great question! I see patients every day when we tell them we see a cavity they say but I don’t feel anything. This is one of the major problems with dental disease. It is silent; you do not feel pain until it has progressed to a late stage.
You will likely not even know if you are suffering from tooth decay until you experience pain when you eat and drink sweet, hot, or cold things. You might also have bad breath, it can start as a white spot where the plaque has been sitting undisturbed and you may eventually see a black/brown spot on your tooth. There could be an unpleasant taste in your mouth, too. If you leave the cavity untreated you might develop infection usually months or years later.
Unfortunately, in a later stage, there is no way to regrow your tooth surface once the decay has broken through the enamel. The only thing to do is to visit the dentist. They will remove the cavity and place a filling in the hole where they drilled out the decay. There are options to use a drill. Listen to my podcast episode #12 Drop the drill with Dr. Chris Kammer.
Prevention to me is always the best option rather than waiting until you have pain.
To prevent tooth decay from happening, start with brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Flossing is also crucial to prevent plaque from building in between your teeth. If you do not like flossing a water flosser is a great option. Burst offers a water flosser. It is the one I use every day! We also recommend limiting sticky, sugary foods, cavities that occur with excessive consumption of sugary and acidic foods – predominantly, sugary or fizzy drinks, fruit juices, crackers, and sweets. These foods feed the plaque and bacteria and the by-product is acid. Balancing the acid and pH of your mouth will help keep cavities away too! However, the best way to treat enamel decalcification and cavities is to limit your intake and frequency you consume sugary and acidic drinks throughout the day. It is the frequency that may be the issue. If you eat all day long you don’t give your saliva a chance to balance the acids in your mouth. Water has a neutral pH so if you can not brush swishing with water will be a game-changer. Our bodies are made up of 60% water. So it is a vital element to not only mouth health but overall body health for balancing pH. Disease happens in the body when we are on the acid side of the pH scale.
2. Enamel Erosion/Gum Recession
Enamel erosion is subtle, occurring over a long period. You will see the root surface of your teeth start to show, becoming discolored around the gumline. Overzealous brushing of your teeth can be a cause as well as crowding and misalignment of your teeth.
As we mentioned before, enamel erosion is slightly more difficult to spot than other dental problems because the damage happens gradually. However, there are still warning signs you can look out for when you’re checking your teeth or overall health. Firstly, you might notice that you feel a twinge of pain in your tooth when eating things like sweets or consuming food/beverages that are hot and cold. Discoloration or severe sensitivity are other signs. Cracks and chips on the teeth are also more likely to occur because your teeth get weakened over time.
There isn’t anything you can do on your own to restore the enamel or root surface once it is eroded, you could pursue cosmetic treatments, like composite fillings or veneers. These can help cover up the discoloration and uneven appearance of your teeth following erosion. I have composite veneers on my six front teeth from the discoloration that happened from taking an antibiotic when I was a child. The discoloration affected my self-esteem. If you are bothered by the color of your teeth seeing a dental professional can make all the difference. We also recommend using a toothbrush with softer bristles.
Some people feel that the harder you brush the cleaner your teeth will be, although your teeth are the hardest substance in your body, your gums are not! So brushing too hard and or using a hard toothbrush can cause your gums to start pulling away from your tooth and over time people who brush too hard or use a hard toothbrush can actually give themselves gum recession, which is when your gums pull away from your tooth exposing the roots which can lead to tooth sensitivity. In some cases brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush can cause enamel abrasion, this is when notches are actually worn into the sides of your teeth, so to prevent all of this from happening, use a soft or an extra soft toothbrush and apply gentle pressure, just enough to make your tissue blanch, and if you’re not sure if you’re using the correct pressure, ask your dental provider at your next dental visit, they will be able to evaluate if you have any signs of aggressive tooth brushing on your gums and or teeth. If you’ve been using a medium or hard or firm toothbrush, and have not been to the dentist in a while you might want to look at your gums and see if you have any recession.
Sometimes recession can also be caused by traumatic occlusion. This is when your teeth are not hitting properly or out of alignment.
There are many clues about not only your mouth health but your overall health as well that a dental examination will look for.
Once Recession and erosion had occurred the only treatment that I know of is visiting a dentist for a filling or periodontist for a gum graft, where they take tissue from the roof of your mouth and place it over the root surface. However, if you do not change your habits you will inevitably cause damage again.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums or gingiva. It occurs because a film of plaque, or bacteria, accumulates on the teeth. Gingivitis is a non-destructive type of periodontal disease that is reversible and has not affected the bone surrounding the teeth, but untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, inflamed gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth. Gingivitis is very common, despite the fact that it is preventable. Especially when breathing through your mouth most of the day.
Treating the symptoms of gingivitis as soon as they notice them is key! The most common sign is gums that bleed regularly when they are brushed or flossed.
Treating gingivitis is something you can do at home with these simple steps.
Here are some home remedies you can try to treat gingivitis:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. …
- Opt for an electric toothbrush to maximize your cleaning potential.
- Make sure your toothbrush has soft or extra-soft bristles.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months.
- Floss or water floss daily.
- Use a natural mouthwash.
- Visit your dentist at least once a year. More if the disease has advanced.
4. Gum Disease
The scientific name for gum disease is periodontitis. This is more serious and can eventually lead to loss of teeth.
It is essentially a bacterial infection under your gums that is a result of a build-up of plaque in the mouth. Gum disease can seriously damage your gums’ soft tissue and the bone that supports your teeth if left untreated. It might cause your teeth to become loose or fall out altogether if left untreated.
Fortunately, gum disease is relatively easy to spot if you are looking for it. The symptoms of periodontitis include bleeding gums, red, swollen gums, and bad breath, and even pus. Your teeth may feel sensitive, and chewing food can be very painful. Your gums might even recede, making your teeth appear longer and look more yellow than usual.
So, how do you treat gum disease? Well, for starters, you need to visit your dentist. They will be able to provide treatment for the underlying infections. Sometimes they might prescribe antibiotics or recommend cleaning with anesthesia known as deep cleaning to make you more comfortable while removing the hard build-up. Treatment will depend on the type and extent of the infection.
Scaling is a procedure performed by a general dentist, periodontist or dental hygienist who removes plaque, bacteria, and calculus from beneath the gums, between the gums, and on the teeth.
Scaling is either done manually or with an ultrasonic instrument, called a Calvitron. Both techniques loosen plaque and remove hardened tartar.
To remove plaque and bacteria, the scaler is placed in the pocket with the bevel at an angle between 45 and 90 degrees to the tooth. The teeth and root surfaces are then scraped and cleaned in a vertical, circular, or horizontal motion. It is only something that needs to be done when the build-up seen on X-ray, is too hard to get off during a regularly scheduled visit or too painful for you due to the inflammation of the gums.
To prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place, you should brush and floss your teeth thoroughly, at least twice per day, and have a professional cleanings bi-annual for healthy gums three or four times a year to keep the disease from progressing.
If the bacteria reach the end of the root you will need a root canal or an extraction.
5. Toothache/ Root infection
A toothache can have many causes, more commonly referred to as tooth infections, and when your tooth’s base (or root) it can become infected and begin swelling up from undisturbed bacteria. Eventually, root infections lead to your tooth’s nerves and tissue becoming damaged, and will eventually abscess if left untreated. Cavities, cracks, and fractures of the tooth are usually what lead to root infection.
If you have a root infection, you most likely suffer from a chronic toothache that feels as though it’s throbbing. The area will feel very sensitive to hot and cold substances, and possibly biting and chewing will be painful. You might see facial swellings near the infected area as well.
To cure a tooth infection that has reached the nerve, you may need a root canal. These treatments have a bad reputation, and some patients decide taking the tooth out is a better option. What is nothing to stop you from seeking the help that you need?
To protect your mouth and teeth from infections, prevention is my go-to recommendation. You will want to be diligent and consistent with your oral hygiene, be aware of correct tongue posture, brushing, flossing, breathing through your nose, watching your diet, all things we have discussed previously.
These are the 5 most common dental problems and things you can do to treat and hopefully prevent them. Seeing your favorite dental professional earlier rather than later will ensure you’re keeping up with oral hygiene and find problems before they cause pain and are costly to repair.
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