Our mouths are breeding grounds for bacteria, both bad and good. They are thoroughly active, all of the time and in every situation.
Dental problems are never fun, but the good news is that most of them can be easily prevented. This means brushing and flossing regularly (preferably twice a day, at a minimum). It also means attending routine exams and check-ups at your local clinic, and eating a reasonably healthy diet, so that plaque does not take over. Try to avoid consuming too many sugary snacks, drinks, and breakfast cereals.
Nevertheless, problems do occur sometimes, even for patients with excellent dental care routines. So, it is important to be able to spot the signs of underlying dental conditions and understand how to solve them. While your dentist may be able to fix up your teeth in an emergency and plug up cavities with fillings, the responsibility for their health lies with you. Educating yourself about common dental problems and their causes can also go a long way in prevention.
Here is a list of common dental problems:
- Toothaches: Meanwhile, it can help to rinse your mouth with warm water, floss to remove food caught between teeth, and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you notice swelling or pus around the tooth, or if you have a fever, that could be a sign that you have an abscess, a more serious problem. See your dentist as soon as possible. You may need antibiotics and possibly a root canal.
- Cavities: You can get cavities at any age, they aren’t just for children. As you age, you can develop cavities as your tooth enamel erodes, and dry mouth, due to age or medications, can also lead to cavities. One in four adults has an untreated cavity, and according to researchers, nearly every adult will have tooth decay at some point. You might have a cavity if you experience pain, food gets caught in your tooth, your tooth feels rough to your tongue or it hurts to eat something cold or sweet. You get them when a sticky bacterium, called plaque, builds up on your teeth, slowly destroying the hard outer shell, called enamel. Depending on their severity, cavities can be treated with fillings, crowns or root canals. If the damage is too extensive or involves nerve damage, the tooth may need to be removed. To prevent it, brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, limit snacks, floss daily, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, and keep up with your dental appointments.
- Crooked teeth: The fix — orthodontia — isn’t just for kids. And straightening crooked teeth and aligning your bite doesn’t just make for a prettier smile, it can be a key part of improving overall dental health, relieving symptoms like jaw pain. Orthodontists may use braces (metal or trays), aligners, and retainers.
- Gum Problems: Do your gums bleed easily? Are they tender? Do you notice them pulling away from your teeth? You might be in the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) or in the more advanced stage (periodontitis). A buildup of plaque, a sticky bacterium, below the gum line causes it. Left untreated, periodontitis can cause bone loss, and your teeth might shift or become loose. That can make it harder to chew and even speak. Everyone is at risk for gum disease, but it usually occurs after age 30. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors. Diabetes and dry mouth also increase your risk. The symptoms include bad breath, red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and painful chewing. To avoid gum disease, brush, floss, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily, and see your dentist for a regular cleaning.
- Bad breath: Also known as halitosis, bad breath can be one of the most embarrassing oral problems. There are a number of reasons why people develop bad breath. These include gum diseases, cavities, oral cancer and an infected tongue. Lack of regular brushing has also been found to cause halitosis. To prevent bad breath, you will need to brush regularly and use special mouthwashes after brushing. If you have a persistent bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing, then visit a dentist.
- Stained teeth: There are many causes of stained teeth. The most common causes, however, are smoking, drinking coffee and lack of regular brushing. The stains accumulate on the surface of teeth and make them look unpleasant. You have three options for whitening them. Your dentist can use a whitening agent and a special light. Or, you can bleach them at home with a plastic tray and gel from your dentist or a store. The simplest choice, whitening toothpaste and whitening rinses, only remove surface stains.
- Canker sores: Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. The canker sore has a white or grey base surrounded by a red border. They appear on the lips, the back of your throat or under your tongue. Their exact cause is uncertain, but some suggest that immune system problems, bacteria or viruses may play a role in its occurrence. They are also more common in women. Generally lasting one or two weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents. Until it heals, it is advisable to stay away from hot, spicy or acidic foods because these can irritate the sore.