9 most common dental problems
Most common dental problems are preventable. It takes brushing twice daily, flossing daily, eating a healthy diet, and regular dental check-ups. Educating yourself about common dental problems and their causes can also go a long way in prevention.
These are 9 common dental problems:
1. Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing. Studies say a dental condition is to blame in about 85% of people with persistent bad breath. They may include:
- Gum disease
- Oral cancer
- Dry mouth
- Bacteria on the tongue
Mouthwash only masks the odour caused by these problems. If you have chronic bad breath, visit your dentist to see what’s behind it.
2. Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is the second most common health problem in the United States. It’s topped only by the common cold.
Tooth decay occurs when plaque combines with sugars and/or starches of the food you eat. The combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel.
You can get cavities at any age. They aren’t just for children. Aging and normal enamel erosion can cause them. So can dry mouth due to age, illness, or medications.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and getting regular dental check-ups. Also, eat healthy foods and avoid high-sugar snacks and drinks. Ask your dentist about more ways to keep your teeth healthy.
3. Gum (Periodontal) Disease
Gum disease is an infection in the gums around your teeth. It’s also a major cause of adult tooth loss. Some studies show a link between gum disease and heart problems.
Everyone’s at risk for gum disease. But it’s most common after age 30. Smoking is a significant risk factor. Diabetes and dry mouth also increase your risk. The symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Pain when chewing
Gingivitis is the technical name of gum disease. Periodontitis is advanced gum disease.
4. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a serious and deadly disease. It affects millions of people and is more common after age 40.
Someone in the United States dies of oral cancer every hour. But this disease is often curable if it’s diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
The symptoms of mouth or throat cancer include:
- Rough areas in the mouth
- Change in your bite
- Difficulty chewing or moving your tongue or jaw
Regular dental visits can help catch oral cancer early. Ask your dentist whether an oral cancer exam is part of their usual checkup.
5. Mouth Sores
Several types of mouth sores can be bothersome. They’re usually nothing to worry about unless they last more than two weeks.
Common mouth sores include:
- Canker sores (aphthous ulcers): These occur inside the mouth and not on the lips. They aren’t contagious and can be triggered by many different causes.
- Fever blisters/cold sores: Caused by the Herpes simplex virus, they occur on the edge of the outer lips. They’re contagious. They come and go but can’t be cured.
- Thrush (oral candidiasis): Yeast infection sores in the mouth can occur in infants, denture wearers, people with diabetes, and people treated for cancer.
6. Tooth Erosion
Tooth erosion is the loss of tooth structure. It’s caused by acid attacking the enamel.
Symptoms can range from sensitivity to more severe problems such as cracking. Tooth erosion is common but easily preventable with proper oral care.
7. Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem. It affects millions of people. Sensitivity involves pain or discomfort from:
- Cold air
- Hot drinks
- Cold drinks
- Ice cream
Sensitivity can be a sign of a cracked or abscessed tooth. Those need to be treated by a dentist. Otherwise, you risk losing a tooth or getting an infection in your jaw bone.
Sensitive teeth can make it painful to brush and floss. But sensitive teeth can be treated. So talk to your dentist about it. If you suddenly develop tooth sensitivity, make a dentist appointment.
8. Toothaches and Dental Emergencies
Dental emergencies can be painful and scary. They require urgent treatment just like any emergency.
Common problems that require an urgent trip to the dentist include:
- A broken or cracked tooth
- An abscessed tooth
- Losing a tooth knocked in an accident
Call your dentist right away about any of these issues.
9. Unattractive Smile
An unattractive smile isn’t technically a “dental problem.” But it is a major reason some people go to the dentist.
Not liking your smile can be hard on your self-esteem. Luckily, with today’s tools and techniques, it’s often fixable.
Cosmetic changes may include:
- Teeth whitening
- Dental implants
- Orthodontics (e.g., braces, retainers)
- Other cosmetic dental work
Make appointments with your dentist when problems arise. Be sure to let them know about any pain or sensitivity you’re having. And get urgent help for dental emergencies