The Five Most Common Dental Problems (and How to Prevent Them)

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Almost everyone knows the basics of proper oral health care: brush your teeth twice daily, floss once a day, and see your dentist regularly. However, many people still face common dental problems despite having good oral hygiene habits. This includes cavities, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, and more.

Genetics and your family history can play a role in some dental problems. For instance, you may be more prone to gum disease if it runs in your family. However, there are still plenty of ways to prevent or reduce the risk of developing these issues.

Here are five of the most common dental problems, along with tips on how you can prevent them:

checking gums of a patient

1. Tooth Decay

Almost everyone will experience a cavity at some point in their lives. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria accumulating on your teeth, causes tooth decay. Tartar will also form if you fail to remove plaque. Only professional cleaning can remove this.

To help prevent cavities, brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. You should also floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

Cavities form when the bacteria in plaque and tartar start to eat away at your tooth enamel. This causes holes, or cavities, to develop in your teeth. If not treated, cavities will only get worse and can eventually lead to tooth loss.

The best way to prevent cavities is also the simplest: through regular and thorough teeth brushing and flossing. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles, as hard bristles can damage your tooth enamel. You should also avoid sugary foods and drinks, which can contribute to cavities.

If you get a cavity, your dentist will likely recommend a filling. This is a common and relatively simple procedure where the dentist removes the decayed part of your tooth and fills the hole with a special material.

2. Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss. Plaque, once again, is the leading cause of gum disease. When plaque builds up on your teeth, it can cause gum inflammation. This is known as gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.

If not treated, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis. This is a more severe form of gum disease that can damage the bones that support your teeth. Periodontitis can eventually lead to tooth loss if not treated.

As with cavities, regular and thorough brushing and flossing are the best way to prevent gum disease. You should also see your dentist regularly for professional cleanings.

Your dentist will likely recommend a deep cleaning if you have gum disease. This is a procedure where the dentist removes tartar and plaque from below the gum line. You may need surgery to treat your gum disease in more severe cases.

3. Tooth Sensitivity

One out of eight people has sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is usually the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. Worn enamel can happen due to overbrushing, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, or eating acidic foods. Exposed tooth roots can occur when gums recede.

Tooth sensitivity can make eating or drinking hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods uncomfortable. It can also make your teeth hurt when you breathe in cold air.

If you have sensitive teeth, the best thing you can do is to see your dentist. They can determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and recommend the best course of treatment.

You can also use toothpaste for sensitive teeth. These contain ingredients that help to block the sensation of pain in your teeth.

4. Bad Breath

Also called halitosis, bad breath is a prevalent dental problem. Plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth are the usual culprits. However, sinus infections, diabetes, and gastrointestinal issues can also cause bad breath.

The best way to prevent bad breath is through regular flossing and brushing. You should also see your dentist for professional cleanings. They can remove tartar and plaque you may have missed with your at-home oral care routine. Certain mouthwashes and mints can help to mask bad breath until you determine the real cause of bad breath.

Consult a doctor if you have bad breath that doesn’t go away with good oral hygiene and personal cleaning. They can help you find out the underlying cause. Treating the underlying cause of your bad breath will usually get rid of it.

5. Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can result from an injury, gum disease, or tooth decay. For whatever reason, missing teeth can significantly impact your life. This can make speaking difficult, affect your self-esteem, and even make it hard for you to enjoy your meals.

Prevention is always the best medicine. This means taking good care of your teeth, so you don’t have to deal with tooth loss. However, if you lose a tooth, there are options available to help restore your smile.

For instance, a dental bridge is a false tooth held in place by your natural teeth on either side of the gap. Dentures are another option: false teeth that you can remove and place back into your mouth as needed. However, dental implants are the usual go-to option because they are the most like your natural teeth.

A dental implant is a surgical procedure where your dentist places a metal post in your jawbone. After the post heals, your dentist will place a replacement tooth on top of the post. While this is the most natural and permanent solution, it is also the most expensive option. Thankfully, many reputable dental clinics now offer reliable but low-cost dental implants. You need to do your research to find a licensed dentist with a good track record of successful dental implants in your area.

Genetics may increase your risk for dental problems, but it still usually boils down to your habits. This shows that there are still ways you can prevent common dental issues from ruining your teeth. The best way to do this is by practicing good oral hygiene habits each day. And if all fails, your go-to dentist can help you get your smile back on track.

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