When everyday life is busy and you have many demands on your time, oral health can be a medical area that is overlooked. But pushing any issues aside can lead to a whole host of common dental problems. At Guiney Dental in Ballincollig, Cork, we see a range of recurring conditions that crop up time and again. These are so often easily preventable, and with a little care, plus the right advice from your dentist, you can avoid a lot of pain and trouble. Here is our guide to common dental problems – what to look out for, and when to call the dentist.
A cavity is the name for when your tooth is so damaged that a hole develops. This severe decay happens when plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) builds up on a tooth’s surface. It is easier for plaque to form when we eat a lot of sugar, which changes into acids that destroy the tooth enamel, weakening our teeth. Your dentist will assess the level of your tooth decay by taking x-rays, inspecting the area, and checking for soft areas in teeth. They will also ask if you are experiencing any pain or sensitivity, which is often caused by tooth decay and cavities. Treatment for a tooth cavity is commonly a filling.
You should try and prevent tooth decay by:
- Regular tooth brushing – twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
- Daily flossing
- Reducing your intake of sugary snacks and drinks
Another problem that can be caused by plaque build up is gum disease. In its mild form, it is known as gingivitis, which can cause irritation and swelling of the gums. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, leading to pain, receding gums, bleeding, and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease of both types is very common, and is treated by dentists with deep cleaning. Infections will be treated with antibiotics, while tartar and plaque will be removed. Gum disease can become so severe that it requires surgery.
Tooth erosion is caused by high levels of dietary acids wearing away tooth enamel. It can be particularly prevalent in those with a dry mouth condition, as they do not have enough saliva to naturally rinse away acids. Following a healthy diet will help prevent tooth erosion, and you should seek treatment if you suffer from dry mouth or acid reflux, to avoid these conditions affecting your teeth. Damage caused by tooth erosion is irreversible, but dentists can use veneers or crowns to cover damage and prevent further problems. Tooth bonding using resin is also used to treat tooth erosion.
Cracks and chips are common dental injuries. Whether the patient has bitten down on something hard, or fallen and knocked their tooth, dentists frequently treat this type of problem. Often a patient will not realise that they have damaged their tooth until they start to experience symptoms. These can include increased sensitivity to extremes of temperature, pain when chewing, or localised pain that comes and goes. Your dentist will make a thorough inspection of your teeth to assess any damage, before deciding on a course of treatment. This could include bonding or putting a crown on a damaged tooth, or even mean extracting the tooth or performing a root canal procedure, for severe damage.
When a tooth fails to grow properly through the gum, or only partially emerges, it is considered to be impacted. It has not managed to grow into a position of its own, and this can cause problems, including jaw and gum pain, bad breath, and even issues with being able to fully open the mouth. Cosmetic issues can also be caused, as well as recurring infections. To diagnose an impacted tooth, a dentist will usually take an x-ray of the affected area. They will then decide whether the tooth needs to be removed, or if another course of treatment is possible.
Sensitive teeth can make daily life miserable. It can cause pain, especially when eating and drinking items that are hot or cold. Tooth sensitivity usually indicates damage to the tooth enamel, meaning the tooth nerves are more exposed to substances in the mouth. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best way to treat your sensitive teeth, which can include special oral hygiene products, as well as fillings.
Teeth that are wonky or discoloured can be a real challenge for your self-esteem, and improving their appearance can feel like a fantastic boost. Depending on your requirements, you can consult your dentist about cleaning, whitening, and straightening. A dentist has a wide range of options to help you improve the appearance of your teeth, including orthodontics, dental implants, veneers, professional whitening, and other cosmetic dental technologies.
Oral cancer is a term used to mean any cancer that occurs in the mouth area, including the tongue, tonsils, lips and oropharynx. It is a common illness, with one person dying every hour in the United States from some form of oral cancer. However it is generally curable if diagnosed early, and regular dental appointments can play an important role in diagnosis. It is possible to reduce your risk of oral cancers by not using tobacco, and reducing your alcohol consumption.
Your dentist is the key person to talk to if you feel that you have any of these common dental problems. As soon as something doesn’t feel right, pick up the phone and make an appointment – the earlier you speak to a qualified professional, the sooner you can get the treatment you need and recover your oral health. If you need a dentist in the Cork area, Guiney Dental are here to help restore your smile. With our expert knowledge of all common dental problems, as well as more unusual conditions, we are the professionals you need to keep your teeth happy and healthy.