Understanding Common Oral Health Problems: Causes and Treatments

October 4, 2023

To maintain a healthy and confident smile, the role of a dentist in Murfreesboro, TN, is indispensable. Dentists are not only there to provide routine check-ups and cleanings but also your partners in understanding and addressing common oral health problems.  

They are trained professionals who possess a deep knowledge of the intricacies of oral health, and their expertise extends far beyond just keeping your teeth clean.

dentist murfreesboro tn checks out cavities

Comprehending Common Oral Health Issues: Causes and Solutions  

Tooth Decay (Cavities):

  • Problem:Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, involves the erosion of tooth enamel, leading to the formation of holes or cavities in the teeth.
  • Cause: Bacteria in the mouth produce acids when they feed on sugars and starches from food, which then eat away at the enamel.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms include tooth sensitivity, pain when chewing, visible pits or holes in teeth, and tooth discoloration.
  • Treatment: Dentists typically remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill the cavity with materials like dental amalgam or composite resin. Good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, can prevent and manage cavities.

Gum Disease (Periodontitis):

  • Problem:Gum disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that support the teeth, ranging from mild gingivitis to severe periodontitis.
  • Cause: Plaque buildup due to poor oral hygiene leads to bacterial infection, causing inflammation and damage to the gum tissue.
  • Symptoms: Symptoms include red, swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath, gum recession, and, in advanced cases, loose teeth.
  • Treatment: Treatment varies based on severity but may involve deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), antibiotics, and sometimes surgical procedures to restore gum health.

Bad Breath (Halitosis):

  • Problem: Halitosis refers to persistent, foul-smelling breath that can be socially embarrassing and indicate underlying oral health issues.
  • Cause: Common causes include poor oral hygiene, gum disease, dry mouth, smoking, and certain foods.
  • Symptoms: Unpleasant odor from the mouth, a coated tongue, and a persistent bad taste.
  • Treatment: Addressing the underlying cause is crucial. This may involve improving oral hygiene, using mouthwash, staying hydrated, and seeking dental treatment for gum disease or other contributing factors.

Tooth Sensitivity:

  • Problem:Tooth sensitivity is characterized by sharp, sudden pain or discomfort when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic stimuli.
  • Cause: It often results from exposed nerve endings due to enamel erosion, gum recession, or tooth decay.
  • Symptoms: Brief, sharp pain when consuming certain foods or drinks.
  • Treatment: Treatment options include desensitizing toothpaste, fluoride treatments, dental bonding to cover exposed dentin, and addressing underlying causes like decay or gum recession.

Tooth Erosion:

  • Problem: Tooth erosion involves the gradual loss of tooth enamel due to acids, leading to weakened and more susceptible teeth.
  • Cause: Acidic foods and beverages, frequent vomiting (as in eating disorders), or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause erosion.
  • Symptoms: Tooth sensitivity, discolored or transparent teeth, and thinning enamel.
  • Treatment: Prevention is key; avoiding acidic substances and maintaining good oral hygiene can help. Dentists may recommend fluoride treatments, dental bonding, or dental crowns to address severe erosion. Addressing underlying medical conditions is also important.

Oral Thrush:

  • Problem: Oral thrush is a fungal infection characterized by white patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, and throat, often causing discomfort and difficulty swallowing.
  • Cause: It is caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, which can occur due to weakened immune systems, medications (like antibiotics), or certain medical conditions.
  • Symptoms: White, creamy lesions in the mouth, soreness, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Treatment: Antifungal medications, such as oral rinses or lozenges, are prescribed to treat oral thrush. Treating underlying causes or risk factors is also important for preventing recurrence.

Dental Abscess:

  • Problem: A dental abscess is a painful collection of pus that forms at the root of a tooth or in the gums, usually caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Cause: Bacteria can enter the tooth through a cavity, crack, or injury, leading to infection and abscess formation.
  • Symptoms: Severe toothache, swelling, fever, and a pimple-like bump on the gum.
  • Treatment: Treatment involves draining the abscess, often by root canal therapy or tooth extraction, along with antibiotics to control infection. Pain relief measures may also be provided.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding):

  • Problem: Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, often during sleep, leading to tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches.
  • Cause: Stress, anxiety, misaligned teeth, and sleep disorders can contribute to bruxism.
  • Symptoms: Tooth wear, sensitivity, jaw pain, headaches, and disrupted sleep.
  • Treatment: Dentists may recommend a night guard or splint to protect teeth from grinding. Stress management techniques and addressing underlying causes are also important.

Misaligned Teeth (Malocclusion):

  • Problem: Malocclusion refers to misaligned teeth or an improper fit between the upper and lower teeth, which can cause difficulties in chewing and speech.
  • Cause: Genetics, thumb-sucking, or jaw injuries can contribute to malocclusion.
  • Symptoms: Crooked teeth, difficulty biting or chewing, speech problems, and increased risk of oral health issues.
  • Treatment: Orthodontic treatments, such as braces or clear aligners, can correct malocclusion. Severe cases may require jaw surgery for alignment.
dentist murfreesboro tn looking at Xray images

Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

  • Problem: Wisdom teeth, or third molars, can become impacted, causing pain, infection, and potential damage to adjacent teeth.
  • Cause: Lack of space in the jaw, leading to improper eruption or impaction.
  • Symptoms: Pain, swelling, difficulty opening the mouth, and sometimes infection.
  • Treatment: Removal of impacted wisdom teeth is often recommended to alleviate symptoms and prevent future issues. An oral surgeon or dentist typically performs the extraction.

Dental Trauma:

  • Problem: Dental trauma includes injuries to the teeth, such as fractures, chipping, or displacement, often caused by accidents or sports injuries.
  • Cause: Accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, and trauma to the face can lead to dental injuries. Symptoms: Pain, visible damage to teeth, bleeding, and potential tooth mobility.
  • Treatment: Treatment varies depending on the severity of the injury but may involve dental bonding, dental crowns, root canal therapy, or tooth extraction.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia):

  • Problem: Dry mouth is a condition where the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva, leading to discomfort, difficulty swallowing, and an increased risk of cavities.
  • Cause: Medications, certain medical conditions, radiation therapy, and aging can contribute to dry mouth.
  • Symptoms: Dry or sticky feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, difficulty eating and speaking, and an increased incidence of dental cavities.
  • Treatment: Managing the underlying cause (if possible) and using artificial saliva substitutes or prescription medications to stimulate saliva production can help relieve dry mouth symptoms.

Dental Crowding:

  • Problem: Dental crowding occurs when the jaw has insufficient space for all the teeth, resulting in overlapping or crooked teeth.
  • Cause: Genetic factors and inadequate jaw space are common causes of dental crowding.
  • Symptoms: Crooked or overlapping teeth, difficulty cleaning, and increased gum disease and cavities risk.
  • Treatment: Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, can gradually align teeth and correct crowding. In severe cases, tooth extraction may be necessary.

Enamel Hypoplasia:

  • Problem: Enamel hypoplasia is a condition in which the enamel doesn't develop properly, leading to weaker, more prone-to-cavities teeth.
  • Cause: Factors during tooth development, such as malnutrition, illness, or medication use, can disrupt enamel formation.
  • Symptoms: Thin or discolored enamel, increased sensitivity, and a higher risk of tooth decay.
  • Treatment: Dentists may recommend fluoride treatments, dental bonding, or dental crowns to strengthen and protect hypoplastic teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential.

Canker Sores (Aphthous Ulcers):

  • Problem: Canker sores are painful, round, or oval sores that develop inside the mouth, often due to stress, injury, or dietary factors.
  • Cause: Exact causes are poorly understood but can include trauma, certain foods, hormonal changes, or stress.
  • Symptoms: Painful sores on the inside of the cheeks, lips, or tongue.
  • Treatment: Canker sores typically heal on their own within a week or two. Over-the-counter topical ointments or rinses can help relieve pain and discomfort. Avoiding irritants and maintaining good oral hygiene can aid in prevention.

How Often Should You See Your Dentist?

Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining optimal oral health. Dentists typically recommend visiting them at least twice yearly for routine examinations and cleanings.  

However, the frequency of your dental visits may vary based on your individual needs.

For most individuals, a biannual visit helps in early detection of dental problems like cavities, gum disease, or oral cancer. These check-ups also include professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup, which can be challenging to manage on your own.

Certain individuals may require more frequent visits. If you have a history of dental issues, like gum disease or a high risk of cavities, your dentist may recommend more frequent appointments, such as every three to four months.

Ultimately, the ideal frequency of dental visits should be determined in consultation with your dentist. They will consider your oral health status, medical history, and specific risk factors to create a personalized schedule that ensures your teeth and gums stay healthy and problem-free.

dentist murfreesboro tn performing routine cleaning

Looking for a Reliable Dentist in Murfreesboro, TN?

Understanding common oral health problems is the first step toward maintaining a healthy smile. Dentists are your partners in identifying, addressing, and preventing these issues. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene practices are essential for long-term oral health.  

If you're experiencing any of these problems or simply need a check-up, don't hesitate to reach out to your local dental professionals.

Contact Stonetrace Family Dental today to schedule your appointment and take the first step toward a healthier, more confident smile. Your oral health is our priority.

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We offer a wide range of quality dental services for each member of your household. You don’t need to drive around for the treatment you need. Stonetrace Family Dental can do it all in one place.

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