We all know about cavities, but what other common dental problems can come up, and how do you begin to treat them?
1. The Problem: Bad Breath.
This dental problem even has an official name: halitosis. The main source of bad breath is the tongue, where layers of bacteria become embedded. Dry mouth contributes further to bad breath, and since your mouth dries as you sleep, morning breath can be especially bad.
Use a tongue cleaner to get rid of some of the bacteria. Of course, some foods like onions and garlic can contribute to bad breath, so consider cutting back.
2. The Problem: Gum Disease.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages gums and, if left untreated, can destroy the gum line. Bad oral hygiene and smoking are major contributors, as well as a genetic predisposition.
Improve your brushing and flossing practices at once, and if you smoke, stop. Then, meet with a dentist for a professional cleaning of the pockets around the teeth, to prevent damage to the surrounding bone. Some advanced cases could require surgery.
3. The Problem: Mouth Sores.
There are two main types of mouth sores. The first are canker sores, a non-virus caused by stress, genetics, and even some types of food. Herpes simplex virus causes the second type of mouth sore, often called a cold sore, and is transmitted orally, infecting 67% of all people under the age of 50, usually before the age of 20.
For canker sores, most people simply let them run their course and they are typically gone within one to two weeks. If these sores persist for longer, talk with your dentist about a new laser treatment option.
For cold sores, antiviral creams and pills can treat outbreaks.
4. The Problem: Tooth Sensitivity.
This can occur when gums recede or enamel thins, exposing the porous “dentin” under the enamel, which covers the nerve.
Talk to your dentist to determine what specifically is causing the sensitivity. Possible treatments include: fluoride, bonding agents, or special toothpaste.
5. The Problem: Discolored Teeth.
While some teeth are naturally more yellowed in hue, some foods and drinks, especially wine and coffee, can discolor teeth even further.
For whiter teeth, limit your consumption of problematic foods and ask your dentist about prescribing a teeth whitening kit or recommending an over the counter treatment.
6. The Problem: Wisdom Teeth.
Wisdom teeth, thought to be historically necessary to replace the frequent tooth loss our ancestors experienced, now painfully crowd many modern mouths. Sometimes the teeth are impacted, other times they erupt only partially, leading to infection and discomfort.
While some people have sufficient space in their jaw for wisdom teeth and never need to worry about them, others need to have them removed. Make an appointment with your dentist for this relatively simple surgery.
7. The Problem: Teeth Grinding.
Often occurring when you are stressed or while sleeping, grinding your teeth shortens and blunts them, and can cause jaw problems. Misaligned teeth can also contribute to teeth grinding.
Consider having your dentist fit you for a night guard, which can prevent you from grinding your teeth in your sleep. He or she can also help you try to identify and relieve stressors that seem to increase the habit.
8. The Problem: Toothaches.
This is a broad name for just about anything that is causing your tooth pain, but it can mean many things. You may have a cavity, an impacted wisdom tooth, gum disease, or something else entirely.
Thoroughly brush and floss your teeth to remove any debris, then talk to your dentist about the specific cause of your toothache.
9. The Problem: Tooth Erosion.
An uncommon occurrence, tooth erosion can happen particularly in people who suffer from bulimia. Frequent exposure to stomach acids erode tooth enamel, and, in extreme cases, may dissolve teeth all the way to gum line.
Seek help for your eating disorder immediately, then ask your dentist for options to save your teeth.
10. The Problem: Broken Tooth.
An accident, sports, chewing hard foods, and many everyday activities all can cause broken teeth.
See a dentist as soon as possible to see if tooth can be saved, saving the fragments in milk or water.
11. The Problem: Overbite or Underbite.
An improperly developed jaw or bad habits like thumb sucking can result in an overbite or an underbite. This may cause problems with speaking and chewing, and can even contribute to periodontal disease.
An orthodontist or dental specialist can help determine possible treatments for your unique overbite or underbite.
Always ask your dentist about issues with your teeth or mouth to get an expert’s advice on your specific situation. You’d be surprised what your dentist can help with when you give him or her a chance.