Your dental health is far more important than you may think. The condition of your teeth and gums impacts your overall health. Poor oral health contributes to heart disease, stroke, diabetic complications, respiratory complications, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, pre-term birth and low birth weight, and certain cancers such as kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers. Studies show that it also puts you at a higher risk for contraction of COVID-19! In addition, having an attractive smile helps boost your confidence in both social and professional situations, which can lead to new job offers, salary increases, and happier relationships. In the next few paragraphs, we will describe the top 10 dental problems that you may have to deal with, and how you can overcome them so you can live life as the happiest and healthiest version of you!
Cavities are one of the most common reasons people visit the dentist. Cavities are caused by bacteria that eat healthy tooth structure. They often don’t hurt. However, if they are left untreated, cavities can get larger and affect the nerves, leading to more extensive and more expensive treatment, such as root canals and extractions. Cavities develop for multiple reasons. Genetics, poor oral care (not flossing and brushing), a diet high in sweets and carbohydrates, and dry mouth are among the top reasons decay develops. Dentists typically treat cavities by filling them with a tooth-colored filling material. To avoid cavities, make sure you see your dentist regularly, brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss once a day, avoid letting sugars and carbohydrates sit on your teeth for long periods of time (this includes bread, pasta, Gatorade, milk, and juice), and talk to your dentist about ways to protect your teeth (prescription topical fluoride), ways to combat dry mouth, and ways to decrease the amount of the bad bacteria in your mouth.
2. Gum Disease
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a condition that affects millions of people. Symptoms include bleeding gums though, in the early stages, you may have gum disease without any obvious symptoms. Left untreated, gum disease leads to bone loss, which can then lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetic complications, respiratory complications, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, pre-term birth and low birth weight, and certain cancers such as kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers, and, most recently, contraction of COVID-19. Consistent and good oral hygiene practices can help to prevent gum disease. Once it has progressed, however, it needs to be treated by a dental professional. Periodontal disease will not disappear, but it can be halted and maintained through teamwork – you do your part at home, and your hygienist will do their part on a more frequent interval. This is paramount to keeping the disease under control.
3. Tooth Sensitivity
If you have sensitive teeth, you may experience tooth pain when eating sweets or consuming something very hot or cold. Sensitive teeth can be caused by a multitude of factors such as cavities, root exposure from brushing too hard, or loss of enamel from misaligned teeth. In mild cases, you may be able to correct the issue by using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. If the issue is caused by cavities or misaligned teeth, your dentist may recommend other solutions to resolve the problem and prevent further damage.
4. Misaligned Teeth
Most people are not blessed with perfectly aligned teeth. Crooked or misaligned teeth are often considered a cosmetic issue as many people are self-conscious about their smile and would prefer to have straighter teeth. However, misaligned teeth can make chewing more difficult, contribute to periodontal disease and make your teeth more susceptible to injuries, including tooth loss. Aligning teeth is easy to do using Invisalign, and is one of the most important things you should do to keep a healthy mouth.
5. Stained or Yellow Teeth
Aside from misaligned teeth, having stained or yellowing teeth is one of the biggest obstacles to having a perfect smile. Stained teeth can be caused by smoking or regularly drinking beverages such as soda, coffee, tea or wine. Even certain fruits and vegetables can, over time, discolor the teeth. As almost everyone partakes in some of these foods or beverages, it’s difficult to maintain perfectly white teeth. Daily brushing along with regular professional teeth cleaning is the best way to maintain whiter teeth. Dentists can also “bleach” the teeth to give you a brilliant smile. Be careful about over-the-counter whitening products as overuse can cause problems such as damage to healthy tooth structure, damage to previous dental work or gum irritation.
6. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer screenings are performed at every six-month hygiene appointment. If you have dentures, it is still important to see your dentist yearly to get an oral cancer screening and check for other tissue issues. Factors that increase your risk for oral cancer include smoking, a history of smoking, and alcohol use. If you have anything abnormal, such as sores that don’t heal, lumps in the mouth or difficulty swallowing to name a few, you need to make an appointment to see your dentist.
7. Bad Breath
Halitosis, better known as bad breath, is a common ailment that can be embarrassing. Strongly flavored foods and spices such as garlic and onions can temporarily cause bad breath. It’s also typical to have sour-tasting breath in the morning before brushing your teeth. However, a more persistent condition is often indicative of an underlying problem such as cavities, gum disease or other dental issues. In some cases, digestive ailments can cause bad breath. Remedies such as mouthwash, gum and mints can temporarily mask the problem but if you consistently have bad breath you should ask your dentist about it.
8. Canker Sores
Aphthous ulcers, commonly known as canker sores, are small, often painful sores that can occur in various places in the mouth. They may also be present on the tongue. They may be red, white or yellow in color. Canker sores can have many causes, including allergies, immune disorders, smoking, stress, physical trauma, and reaction to certain medications. You can buy over-the-counter medications that can help to treat them. If you have canker sores that persist for more than a few weeks, or that occur frequently, you should consult with your doctor or dentist. One reason to seek professional help is that cold sores, a more serious and contagious condition caused by the HSV (herpes simplex virus), can be mistaken for canker sores.
9. Cracked or Chipped Teeth
Teeth can crack due to sports injuries, accidents, crooked teeth, old fillings, cavities, or biting into something hard. A chipped tooth can be annoying and unsightly, depending on its location. It can also be painful if the injury exposes a nerve. A dentist can fix a cracked or chipped tooth with a filling or veneer. Large breaks can require crowns and sometimes root canal therapy in addition to the crown. If the tooth is damaged beyond repair, it may need to be removed and replaced with another option, such as an implant.
10. Teeth Grinding and TMD
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a practice that can cause damage to your teeth over time. If you grind your teeth, it could be due to stress or a misalignment of your teeth. People often grind their teeth while sleeping and don’t know it. If stress or an underlying sleep disorder is present, you may need to make dietary or lifestyle changes. For example, excessive caffeine intake can contribute to insomnia and teeth grinding at night. A dentist may recommend alignment of your teeth or a mouth guard to prevent grinding your teeth while sleeping. TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is a condition that can cause headaches, neck pain and jaw pain, as well as teeth grinding and tooth pain. In addition to a mouth guard, TMD can be treated by performing certain jaw, head and anti-stress exercises, or other methods. See your dentist so they can determine the best remedy for you.
Your dental health contributes to the status of your overall health and your confidence level. You now know how to overcome the top 10 dental issues so you can live life as the happiest and healthiest version of you!