Bad breath is one of the most common and embarrassing dental problems people experience. Chronic bad breath (also known as halitosis) can occur due to the foods you eat, tobacco use, poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, gum disease, or bacteria and infection. In most cases, bad breath can be treated by routine professional cleanings, brushing and flossing multiple times a day (especially after meals) and use of an antiseptic mouthwash. If bad breath is a recurring problem it could be a warning sign for periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss but is very treatable with routine professional cleanings.
Yellow or discolored teeth can be just as embarrassing as bad breath. First impressions are everything! Teeth may appear yellow due to reasons such as tobacco use, drinking coffee or wine, acidic or staining foods, certain antibiotics during childhood (tetracyline staining), genetics, thinning enamel, or can be caused in part to the natural aging process. The discoloration can occur due to staining the outer surface of the enamel or the projection of the non-white colored dentin within the teeth. Some of this surface staining is removed when brushing or after a professional dental cleaning. Teeth whitening, or bleaching, can lift some of these surface stains and give a brighter appearance!
Mouth sores are a common oral ailment that can cause significant discomfort. Mouth sores can occur on any part of the soft tissue within the mouth. The sores are often caused by mouth burns, irritations, braces, hard brushing, tobacco, infection (viral), and biting of the tongue, cheek, or lip. The sores typically last from a few days to a little over a week. If a sore is persistent, painful, or if you notice change in shape or size of lesion - it is important to have it evaluated ASAP. Oral cancer lesions can be very invasive and early detection is key - annual exams and oral cancer screenings are a must! Most mouth sores usually heal naturally, but you can aid the process by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and spicy foods; and keeping the area as clean as possible!
Tooth sensitivity is the discomforting feeling you get in your teeth when eating hot, cold, or sugary food and drinks. The cause of the sensitivity is due to a variety of reasons such as receding gums exposing root surface, wear on the teeth, whitening treatments, and acid erosion. The simpler causations may be treated by abstaining from the damaging behavior combined with using a desensitizing toothpaste (i.e. Sensodyne). In severe cases, the tooth may require restorative treatment to cover exposed tooth structure.
Teeth grinding or clenching (also known as bruxism) is as destructive behavior that people usually do while sleeping (parafunction). Bruxism wears down your teeth and could cause serious damage in the form of enamel loss, tooth loss, jaw disorders, muscle aches, headaches, and fractured teeth. Teeth grinding may take place due to stress, misaligned teeth, jaw pressure, sore teeth, but most commonly it is a response to part of certain REM sleep cycles. Most of these symptoms can be controlled by utilizing a bite split (occlusal guard) that acts as a plastic barrier between the teeth to relieve the pressure when grinding. In severe cases, where grinding causes TMJ clicking or popping or dislocation - an oral surgery consultation can provide advanced treatment options to treat these symptoms.
Enamel erosion is the wearing away of the hard outer-most layer of teeth. This outer layer protects the softer, inner tooth materials such as dentin, nerves, and blood vessels. Enamel issues occur in most cases to due acidic erosion from damaging food and drinks. Eroding enamel can be problematic because it exposes the vulnerable inner-workings of the tooth to decay and infections. The best way to fight enamel loss is to stop it before it starts. Maintain proper oral hygiene including daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental visits and cleanings. If significant enamel loss occurs, corrective procedures can take place such as dental fillings and dental crowns.
Gum disease (also known as periodontitis) is caused by the presence of damaging bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria enters the mouth through food and beverages among other means. If it is not removed, the bacteria can harm and eat away at the gums causes them to swell and bleed. Gum disease can lead to a variety of bad things including tooth sensitivity, bad breath, and tooth loss. To avoid gum disease, brush and floss at least twice daily including after each meal. Regular trips to the dentist for cleanings and examinations will also combat gum disease. If gum disease exists, treatment options can include deep dental cleanings or even surgery.
Tooth decay takes place when the hard, outer layer of the tooth (the enamel) is softened and wears down. This allows bacteria and damaging substances to enter and eat away at the tooth. Decay normally is a product of acidic food and drinks that carry bacteria and plaque, accompanied by poor oral hygiene. Preventive care is the best approach to treating tooth decay because once it starts, it is tough to stop. Maintain good oral habits while limiting sugary and starchy foods. Once tooth decay takes place, it forms a cavity in the tooth that can only be treated by drilling and a cavity filling. It the cavity persists, it can create even worse problems such as infection and tooth loss.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to enter the mouth and appear in the back of the mouth closest to the esophagus. They usually begin to form and grow into place for people between 17 and 24 years old. They can be problematic because they are often impacted, meaning they fail to erupt through the gums into the mouth. Additionally, wisdom teeth can be problematic because they enter the mouth crooked causing pressure, misalignment, pain, and damage to teeth. To address the issues, wisdom teeth extraction is the usual solution. Extraction of wisdom teeth can take place for teeth that either broke through the gums or remain under the gum line. If the teeth are impacted, the procedure requires surgical precision to remove them. Again this is a common problem for young adults, so make sure to have your wisdom teeth examined if you are between the ages of 17 and 24.
Oral cancer is the most serious dental problem because it is potentially life-threatening. Oral cancer is considered any type of cancer that resides in and around the mouth area. It often begins by forming mouth sores in the soft tissue of the oral region that does not heal. Other signs of oral cancer include continuous and unexplained swelling, bleeding, sores, numbness, bumps, patches and any other persistent discomforts in the mouth. Not all of these symptoms result in cancer, but if they are persistent and untreatable, please see a dental professional for a diagnosis. The risk of sustaining oral cancer is increased by the use of tobacco products.