Your mouth can offer many clues about your overall health, and can also greatly affect your overall health. In fact, research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with many other diseases. Treating inflammation from periodontal diseases may also help with the management of other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and osteoporosis.
Most of us know that brushing teeth twice a day plus flossing is a great start to good oral health. Even so, not all of us follow these recommendations and sometimes that leads to some very common dental problems. We thought we would talk about 7 of those common dental problems today and how to treat and prevent them.
Tooth Decay. Most people know tooth decay as cavities, and also know that cavities are caused by plaque that develops and lingers on the teeth after eating sugary foods. Children and older people are most prone to developing cavities, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010, more than half of all children have cavities by the second grade.
Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste will help prevent tooth decay. If you already have a cavity, the treatment varies according to how severe the tooth decay is. Your dentist may recommend a filling, crown, root canal. You should treat tooth decay as soon as possible to avoid it getting worse and possibly needing a tooth extraction. Plus, if you wait to see a dentist, treating your tooth deay will cost more.
Gum Disease. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, and the advanced state is known as periodontitis. Basically, gum disease is a bacterial infection caused by plaque that attacks your gums, bone, and ligaments in your mouth.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that half of all adults have some signs of gingivitis! Again, poor oral hygiene, and systemic diseases like diabetes increase your chances of developing gum disease.
Treating the early stages of gum disease, gingivitis, can be easily be easily done with regular brushing and flossing. To combat periodontitis, your dentist may perform a deep cleaning around the teeth and below the gum lines. Sometimes they might also prescribe medication to combat the infection.
If the gum disease has progressed to affect your gums and bone, your dentist might suggest surgery, such as a gum graft.
Tooth Sensitivity. Enamel erosion is the common cause of tooth sensitivity, and if left unchecked may proceed to the underlying dentin, which is below the enamel of our teeth. Dental erosion is the most common chronic disease of children ages 5–17, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Some easy ways to prevent enamel erosion are:
- Drink through a straw
- Reduce highly acidic food and drinks from your diet, such as sodas, lemons, and other fruit juices
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals
Treating enamel erosion can include tooth bonding, which is when a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) is applied and hardened with a special light. Or, in severe cases, your dentist may recommend a crown for your tooth to protect the tooth from further decay.
Teeth Grinding. Teeth grinding is very common in adults, and occasional teeth grinding doesn’t usually cause harm, but regularly grinding your teeth at night can be very damaging to your teeth, ultimately causing jaw problems.
Common causes of teeth grinding are stress and misaligned or crooked teeth. If you think you need treatment for teeth grinding, your dentist may fit you for a mouth guard to be worn at night. Other treatments can include:
- Relaxing your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm washcloth against your cheek in front of your earlobe.
- Avoiding alcohol, which seems to intensify teeth grinding
- Reducing stress through exercise, meditation, or stress counseling
Bad Breath. The main source of bad breath is bacteria on the tongue. Other causes include: dry mouth, foods such as garlic or onions, as well as post nasal drip. Post nasal drip (usually from a sinus condition) causes bad breath when bacteria are attracted to the resulting mucus and phlegm. In rarer cases, bad breath can be caused by an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, pneumonia, bronchits, or liver or kidney problems.
Treating common bad can be as easy as scraping your tongue daily. A tongue scraper is inexpensive and can be bought at most drugstores or places like Target. If post nasal drip is the problem, antihistamines can help, but of course you should check with your doctor before taking any medications.
As you can see, most of these dental problems can be avoided with good oral hygiene, which includes brushing twice a day, flossing, tongue scraping, and regular dental checkups. If you suspect you have one of these dental problems, you should contact your dentist immediately to avoid serious effects which can be very costly. Feel free to call us at 617.606.5006 or visit our website if you have any questions about your dental health or would like to schedule a dental checkup!