According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.5 billion people worldwide suffer from oral diseases. This equates to about half of the world’s population. Fortunately, visiting your Palo Alto dentist and learning about common dental problems and their causes can be really helpful when it comes to prevention. Below are 5 of the most typical dental issues, along with their prevention tips.
- Gum disease
Gum disease is a widespread dental issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gum disease affects almost half of adults aged 30 years and above.
Usually, there are two forms of diseases that can affect the gums: Periodontitis and gingivitis. Gingivitis is a milder type of gum disease that makes the gums swollen and bleed. The advanced stage of this condition, called Periodontitis, is when plaque build-ups beyond the gum line. Eventually, this causes the bones and gums supporting the teeth to deteriorate.
The easiest way to avoid this condition is to practice good dental hygiene, such as regular brushing, flossing your teeth, eating a balanced diet, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanups. Once the plaque calcifies into tartar and extends beyond the gum line, treatment options may include scraping, antibiotics, or even surgical procedures.
- Cavities (a.k.a Caries or Tooth Decay)
Tooth decay is the most prevalent non-communicable disease worldwide. Usually, it is caused by plaque formation on teeth. The plaque produces acids that cause the enamel to decay, eventually causing cavities (small holes in the tooth).
Cavities can be avoided by practicing basic dental hygiene. This involves flossing and brushing your teeth after each meal. It is advisable to brush with fluoride toothpaste, as it helps harden the tooth enamel. In addition, avoid sugary foods like candies, cakes, raisins, and sodas. These foods, when left on teeth, results in acid production.
Treatment for dental cavities depends on the severity of the decay. One treatment option entails getting rid of decay and filling the hole carefully with a dental filling. Another option is to replace the infected part of the tooth with a crown. Also, there is the root canal option, which entails removing the infected pulp in the tooth.
- Bad Breath (a.k.a Halitosis)
This condition is characterized by a bad odor in the mouth. It is usually caused by poor dental hygiene, dry mouth, and lingering food particles and remains in your mouth.
For a relatively common dental problem, there are several ways to prevent halitosis. The most common way is observing good oral hygiene. Brushing teeth and the tongue at least twice a day is an excellent way to start.
Bad breath caused by dry mouth can be addressed by drinking water regularly or chewing gum or mints.
If the source of the unpleasant odor is a dental infection, consult any of the top dentists in Palo Alto for treatment.
- Sensitive teeth
When the enamel wears away, and the dentin is exposed, your teeth become sensitive to hot and cold meals and drinks. The dentin contains tubules that lead to the nerve inside the tooth. Cold or hot foods/beverages can pass through the tubules to the nerve and can cause excruciating pain.
Possible causes of sensitive teeth include:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Enamel erosion
- Worn-down crown or fillings
- Receding gums
- A broken or cracked tooth
- Naturally thin enamel layer
There are various types of mouthwashes and toothpaste meant purposely for use with sensitive teeth. Your Palo Alto dentist may also suggest a fluoride treatment, gum graft, root canal, or gum graft. The preferred treatment largely depends on the severity of your condition.
- Oral cancer
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 53,000 people in the U.S are diagnosed with cancer of the throat or mouth every year.
Oral cancer is believed to be one of the most serious dental illnesses. It often starts as a painless white patch in the mouth that is barely noticeable. This patch widens and develops ulcers as it grows. The majority of oral cancers are linked to heavy tobacco and alcohol use, as well as infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
To prevent oral cancer, besides practicing good oral hygiene and a healthy diet, plan regular visits to the dentist for checkups and oral cancer screening.
Get these common dental problems treated early
Dental problems can affect your confidence, quality of life, and overall health. Reach out to the best dentist in Palo Alto whenever you notice symptoms of any of the conditions listed above so that treatment can commence as soon as possible. And don’t also forget to honor your bi-annual dental appointments to keep these dental problems at bay.
Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including: