31 Aug 5 Common Dental Problems and How to Fix Them
Chances are that you will face at least one dental problem in your life. It may be something as simple as filling a cavity or it may be more complex like bruxism. In this article, we’ll cover five common dental problems and how to fix them:
- Cavities / tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
Discuss whatever problems you’re having with your dentist. They’re the most equipped to diagnose common dental problems and fix them permanently.
1. Cavities / Tooth Decay
Cavities, also known as tooth decay, are tiny holes in your teeth that can develop over time. They’re the result of a form of bacteria known as plaque that sticks to the enamel of your teeth and slowly erodes away the hard surface. Plaque also tends to settle at the edges of fillings and the gumline. These problems can be especially prevalent in adults.
Fortunately, preventing cavities is a fairly simple task. All you have to do is practice good oral health! This includes:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash
- Eating less sugary foods
- Visiting your dentist every six months
If you’re still worried about cavities then you may want to talk to your dentist about a sealant. They help fill in pits and dents in your teeth to create a more even surface that’s easier to clean.
We all experience toothaches from time to time. However, there are times when a toothache is more than a temporary annoyance and may indicate a much more serious problem. This is indicated if you’re experiencing:
- Severe pain
- Pain for more than 24 – 48 hours
- Earache, fever, or another form of pain
- Swelling of the gums or face
- Bad taste in your mouth due to discharge from the infected tooth
Problems like these may indicate an abscessed tooth, gingivitis, or other serious problem that’s affecting your oral health. In cases such as these, the most important thing to do is make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can try:
- Taking over the counter painkillers
- Flossing to get rid of any debris between your teeth
- Swishing warm water in your mouth
- Placing an ice pack or cold compress on the affected area
It’s important to understand that these are no substitute for visiting your dentist. They can help alleviate your pain for a while, but your dentist will be able to narrow down the cause of your toothache and treat the problem at its source.
3. Gum Disease
Also known as periodontitis, gum disease is a bacterial infection that occurs when too much plaque has formed on your teeth. This can turn into tartar which can only be removed by a dental professional. If left untreated, you can eventually develop gingivitis, a milder form of gum disease that can eventually cause periodontitis.
Like many other dental health issues, gum disease is easily prevented by a combination of good oral hygiene (brushing regularly, flossing, avoiding foods that are bad for your teeth) along with regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist. Following these steps will help prevent gum disease before it starts or help your dentist to keep it from progressing any further.
4. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold
Some people experience sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks. Sometimes the sensitivity can be so severe that it hurts just to breathe hot or cold air! Like tooth decay, tooth sensitivity often occurs when the enamel of your teeth has been eroded by plaque and acids. It may also be a result of gum disease or a cracked tooth or filling.
Another cause of teeth sensitivity is age. Our gums shrink naturally as we get older which can expose the roots of your teeth. Unlike the tops of your teeth, the roots don’t have enamel to protect them from exposure to everyday substances. This results in pain when you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee.
There are a few options at your disposal to deal with sensitive teeth, including:
- Toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
- Soft-bristled brushes
- Wearing a mouthguard at night to prevent grinding
- Fillings to cover exposed roots
You can also talk to your dentist about dental sealants. They’re made of a substance that fills in any cracks that may be causing your sensitive teeth.
Bruxism includes teeth grinding and clenching your jaw. It can result in teeth that are worn down, cracked, loose, or chipped. It can also wear down your enamel resulting in increased tooth sensitivity and even severe pain. In severe cases, bruxism can be so loud that you may wake up your partner at night! Clenching your jaw can eventually lead to lockjaw.
Treatment for bruxism will depend on the type you have—awake bruxism or sleep bruxism. Awake bruxism is often the result of emotions like fear and stress and may function as a coping mechanism. Sleep bruxism is due to chewing in your sleep.
Fortunately, most cases of bruxism aren’t severe enough to require treatment. On the other hand, severe cases will require intervention. This can include mouthguards when sleeping, stress management, or even medication. Bruxism can also be caused by medications, medical conditions, and sleep disorders. In this case, your dentist will work with the rest of your health care team to come up with a solution that works best for you.
There are many dental problems that you can face in your lifetime. On the bright side, most can be avoided or mitigated by practicing good oral health habits. This can help avoid issues like cavities, gum disease, and tooth sensitivity. Problems such as toothaches or bruxism often point to deeper problems. Talk with your dentist to get to the source of the issue and back to normal.