As long as you can remember, you’ve heard the words “cavities” and “gum disease” many times. Chances are you’ve had at least one cavity and one bout of gingivitis (low-level gum disease) so far in your life time. These tend to be the most common dental issues patients are familiar with. As there is a lot that goes on in the mouth as well as a wide range of foods and drinks that enter it throughout the day, many other dental issues can also occur. Some of these you may or may not have experienced:
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Chronic Bad Breath
- Chronic Dry Mouth
- Canker Sores
- Tooth and Jaw Pain
Causes of Dental Issues
There are multiple causes of the aforementioned common dental issues. Many causes are things a patient can do something about. Below are the common dental health issue causes:
Poor dental health and hygiene. Poor dental health as the result of improper or sub-par at-home oral hygiene is the most common cause for the majority of common dental issues. The lack of flossing and inconsistency of teeth brushing can leave decaying food particles in the mouth which cause tooth decay and gum disease which can then lead to additional oral health problems such as bad breath, lost teeth and weakened jaw bones.
Trauma. Trauma to the teeth or gums as a result of an injury can damage and weaken protective tissue that can make one’s mouth more susceptible to tooth decay, broken or chipped teeth, jaw injury and lost teeth. Most common accidents to the mouth involve the breaking, cracking, chipping or losing of teeth. Should any of these happen, patients are to go to the nearest dentist or ER room ASAP as prompt treatment is needed to save the teeth.
Underlying overall health conditions. Autoimmune diseases such as HIV and health conditions such as diabetes can put one at an increased risk of dental health issues by making one’s teeth and gums more vulnerable to infection and disease. These aforementioned conditions also lower the mouth’s ability to fight off disease and infection.
Underlying oral conditions. Tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, bad breath and canker sores can all be the results of tooth decay, gum disease or another oral infection. A sore jaw, dry mouth and chronic bad breath can be the result of TMJ, bruxism (unconscious teeth grinding and jaw clenching) or another dysfunction in the functioning of the mouth.
There are many different causes to common dental issues. Some of the causes can be more easily reduced or dealt with by the oral hygiene habits of the patient. Others are more outside of the patient’s control and will require the help of a trained dental professional.
Regular, routine dental checkups and cleanings at the dental office play an important part in the prevention, diagnosis and prompt treatment of common oral health conditions. Whether or not you feel any discomfort or notice anything abnormal in your mouth, it is highly recommended that one schedules an appointment with their dentist every six months for a routine teeth cleaning and oral exam.
Practicing proper dental techniques and instilling good habits from a young age is very important; however there is still a high chance that your child will require additional dental care. It is extremely important for your child to visit the dentist on a regular basis so the dentist can keep an eye out for larger issues and provide recommendations as appropriate. Below are a few of the common dental procedures needed for kids:
Regular Cleaning – While children do their best to brush and floss their teeth, it can never hurt to have them looked over by a professional. Pediatric dentists have special tools to clean in those hard to access places (ie between and behind the teeth). This also provides an excellent time for the dentist to further educate the children about dental health and its importance.
Braces- Many children will require braces in order to align and straighten their teeth and bite. Braces are recommended to children with severe underbites, overbites, crooked teeth, and various structural issues with the jaw. Depending on the severity of the issue, braces can be needed for as a little as a few months or as long as a couple years.
Retainer- Similar to braces, retainers are given to children to align teeth and keep them straight. Retainers are custom made to fit each child's mouth and are often used after braces, generally only needed at night.
Sealants- Most dentists recommend applying sealants to children's' teeth at a young age to help avoid plaque buildup and cavities later in life. Sealants are added to the pitted / indented part of the tooth (the part that does the chewing) in order to keep out food particles and sugary liquids. Sealants are essentially invisible and the children will not notice a thing. If the sealants did not provide enough protection and your child does get a cavity, the dentist may recommend metal fillings or a steel crown. A dentist for kids can assist with this and any other procedures.
X-rays- These are commonly given to both children and adults at the dentist. While your teeth may look and feel fine, X-rays can detect issues before you even know they exist. It will literally provide you with a picture of your overall dental health.
Fluoride Treatments – Fluoride can come in a variety of forms, but is most commonly given to children as liquids or gels / foams. Fluoride works to alter the structure of the tooth, making it more resistant to plaque and cavities.[Top]
A dentist is a professional who focuses on the oral cavity of a patient and its surroundings. Most of the time, general dentistry is the usual practice of many dental professionals but there are a growing number of specialists who concentrate on one specialty in dentistry. These specialists are educated initially in general dentistry and then they take on maintenance or an advanced graduate training program, either immediately after they pass dentistry or they wait for a period of time after practicing general dentistry.
Formerly known as pedodontics, this aspect of the dental profession concentrates on children starting from infancy to late childhood. This means that when the child reaches the age when the first milk tooth comes out, the parents can bring him or her to see the pediatric dentist. The professional will check the primary eruption and then asses the next others over the span of several months. He will also teach the parents how to take care of these properly in such a way that the child will feel comfortable with the parent sticking a finger in his or her mouth. There are some subspecialties under this field, such as reconstructive dentistry. When the child is older, around ten years old, the introduction of an orthodontist may be in the works if there is an apparent malocclusion, as assessed by the pediatric specialist. The orthodontist deals with the correction of crooked teeth and misaligned bites.
This specialty deals with the use of certain dental applications such as dentures, bridges and many others. The specialists in these fields work closely or are in reality the same with those who specialize with oral and maxillofacial pathology and surgery. The use and maintenance of implants fall under this field and the dentist who installs them and contains them. They may also work closely with orthodontists if the need arises.
These dental practitioners work on many conditions and therapies that have to do with the pulp in our dental structure. The root canal is one of the more famous treatments that these professionals may do to their patients. There may be other illnesses included under this field that the specialist may also deal with.
Oral and Maxillofacial
This is one of the more complicated fields in dentistry. It covers a broad aspect of the profession but at the same time it focuses on the structure of the oral cavity and its surroundings exclusively. The professionals who deal with this aspect can have subspecialties in it as well. The dentist can choose to concentrate of radiology, pathology or surgery. In radiology, he can take x-rays of the patient's structure and interpret the results accordingly. In pathology, he can study and diagnose the basics of the diseases that occur in the region. Although it is not common, this professional can also treat or recommend a treatment for the diseases. In surgery, the dentist does the actual implementation of the treatment and correction based on the results of both radiologic and pathological fields.[Top]
Chances are, you do not have perfect, decay and disease-free teeth and gums. Most patients have at least one cavity and have had a bout or two with minor, reversible gum disease.
Maybe you've experienced bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity or lost teeth. If you went to the dentist, the dentist likely treated the condition to halt its progress or to eliminate the condition all together.
This treatment of a dental condition after it's already begun is called restorative dentistry, which is often partly covered by dental insurance.
While preventive treatments are used to avoid a lot of pain, discomfort, embarassment, excess dental office trips, and forking over funds, sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Sometimes you do not feel the pain and discomfort of a dental problem until it's too late. Accidents and other things may also occur and necessitate some of these more serious measures.
You do not have to feel embarrassed about it, though. Most of these procedures are very common, and chances are you've already experienced some of them yourself.
The goal of restorative dentistry is to protect and preserve the teeth. Here is a list of the most common procedures:
Fillings. This is a very common restorative dental procedure while the dentist will fill a hole in the outer surface of the tooth caused by plaque and tooth decay (cavities). The fillings can be gold, amalgam or composite resin. Resin fillings are the most expensive and least likely to be covered by insurance like amalgam fillings are. Amalgam fillings are most common because they are the least expensive.
Some patients (and dentists) prefer the composite resin fillings because of their appearance and their lack of mercury, which is in traditional amalgam fillings.
Crowns. This is simply a tooth-shaped and colored covering that is cemented over a tooth that is too poorly damaged by decay. Crowns are also used on top of dental implants which replace missing teeth. They are often made offsite in a dental lab, resulting in the need for multiple dental office visits. Some dental offices, however, have the technology to make crowns onsite, giving patients new crowns in a single office visit.
Inlays and Onlays. These dental procedures are ideal for patients with chipped teeth or those whose teeth are too disappointed for fillings, but not damaged enough for a crown.
Inlays are made of composite resin that is bonded to one cusp of the tooth (located on the chewing surface of the tooth). An onlay covers more than one cramp of the tooth and is sometimes called a partial crown.
Implants. Further, and possibly more serious, dental health issues can raise from missing teeth.
Implants are used to fill in these gaps and preserve the proper stability of a patient's remaining teeth.
Implants are made of three components: the titanium rod (implant), the abutment and the crown. The titanium implant is surgically inserted into the patient's jaw where the missing tooth formerly was. The abutment is then placed on top of the implant. Finally, a tooth-shaped crown is placed on top of the abutment.
Implants restore a patient's smile as well as reserve the strength of the jawbone and proper alignment of surrounding teeth.
Dentures. Some patients, many of which who are older, have lost all or most of their teeth due to a life time of wear and tear. A toothless mouth not only takes away from one's smile and self-confidence, it can hinder one's ability to eat and speak.
Patients in these circumstances would be best treated with dentures.
There are two common types of dentures: full and partial.
Dentures have come a long way thanks to modern dental technology. Some dentists now offer patients permanent dentures, called all-on-four dentures that use dental implants to anchor the implants into place in the mouth.
While fillings, crowns, implants, inlays and onlays and dentures are the most common restorative dental procedures , there are other procedures your dentist may recommend to preserve your teeth and smile.
It is important to schedule regular visits with your dentist and have your teeth examined when there's any kind of pain or discomfort.[Top]