Dental problems can significantly affect your health, relationships, and overall well-being. Although most dental problems are easily preventable, you’ll likely experience at least one dental problem during your lifetime. This article discusses the 5 most common dental problems and how they’re prevented and treated.
Gingivitis: Gingivitis is a mild, early form of gum disease that occurs when bacteria and plaque build-up in the mouth, forming tartar under the gumline. You can develop a gum infection when plaque extends below the gum line. Tartar creates a protective shield for bacteria leading to irritation, infection, redness, and swelling (inflammation) along the gumline. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by your dentist during a professional cleaning. Good oral health habits, such as brushing at least twice daily, flossing daily, and getting regular checkups, can help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
Periodontal disease: If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontal disease (periodontitis), a much more serious condition that can lead to tooth loss. In the early stages of periodontitis, your gums recede or pull away from your teeth and form small pockets between the gums and teeth. Bacteria enter and flourish in these pockets, leading to infection below the gum line, eventually breaking down the tissue and bone holding your teeth in place and causing tooth loss. If you have periodontitis, you might experience severe pain while chewing, severe bad breath, and a foul taste in your mouth. Your dentist will examine and diagnose you and create a treatment plan that may include deep cleaning and surgery. Maintaining good dental hygiene after treatment is important to keep for your dental health and prevent reinfection.
Oral cancer is a serious and common problem that often occurs in the tongue, tonsils and oropharynx, gums, lips, floor and roof of the mouth, and cheek lining. Oral cancer is particularly dangerous because it often doesn’t present pain or readily recognizable symptoms in its early stages, so you may not even know you have it.
As with other cancers, prompt treatment and early detection improve your chances of survival. In fact, the five-year overall survival rate in those with stage 1 and 2 oral cancers is typically 70 to 90 percent. That’s why going to your dentist for dental examinations and oral cancer screenings is incredibly important—the dentist knows what to look for and will thoroughly examine you for any signs and symptoms of oral cancer.
Tooth decay is among the most common health problems, affecting 1 in 4 adults in the United States. They’re especially common in children, teenagers, and older adults. Tooth decay is damage to tooth enamel, potentially resulting in cavities, dental abscesses, or even tooth loss.
Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in your mouth combine with food and saliva to form a soft, sticky film that coats your teeth called plaque. The bacteria in plaque convert the sugars in your food into acids, and if plaque is allowed to build up over time, these acids can begin to eat away at the minerals on your enamel, causing cavities.
Common symptoms of tooth decay include toothache, tooth sensitivity, pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold, brown, black, or white staining on any surface of a tooth, and visible holes or pits in your teeth. When a cavity is just beginning, you may not have any symptoms at all, so it’s important to have regular dental checkups and cleanings, even when your mouth feels fine. You must also practice good oral care at home—brushing twice daily and flossing once daily.
Crooked, misaligned teeth are very common in people of all ages. It can be caused by malocclusion (misaligned jaw), genetics, poor dental care, poor habits such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or pacifier use, and facial injury. Orthodontic treatment such as braces and clear aligners can treat common orthodontic problems like crowding, overbite, crossbite, spacing, and underbite.
Also known as halitosis, bad breath is a common dental problem that affects everyone at some point. It’s often caused by poor dental hygiene, cavities, oral cancer, gum disease, dry mouth, or an underlying condition such as gastric reflux, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease. If you have chronic bad breath despite maintaining proper oral hygiene, you should make an appointment to see Dr. Peter.
Prevent Common Dental Problems with Regular Dental Checkups
Most oral health conditions are largely preventable with good oral hygiene and can be treated in their early stages, preventing serious problems later. A simple commitment to regular dental checkups will help you to avoid all the above issues and maintain good oral health. At Peter Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we provide comprehensive dental checkups to patients in Independence, KY. We professionally clean your teeth, examine your mouth to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy and check for any abnormalities that may otherwise go unnoticed and could be a sign of larger health issues such as oral cancer. Contact our dental office today to schedule an appointment!