Many of us experience an occasional dental problem. How do you know what it is and what you can do about it?
Can you prevent it from happening in the future?
Let’s talk about a few simple issues, and learn to identify and address them.
We all have bad breath from time to time. You wake up and, “Whoa! What died in my mouth overnight?” Maybe you ate that burger with extra onion. The garlic sauce on your pasta had more garlic than you expected. Those causes for bad breath are easy to identify.
Some aren’t so simple. Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a number of conditions. It may simply be that your mouth is dry, possibly from breathing through your mouth is your nose is stuffy, or chronic dry mouth.
Cavities, bacteria and gum disease can also be causes of chronic bad breath. Be aware that sometimes more serious conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, and gastrointestinal problems can cause bad breath as well.
Tooth decay will often cause discomfort or be downright painful depending on how advanced the decay is. Tooth decay is caused by plaque on your teeth interacting with the sugars and starches that you eat.
Their interaction produces an acid that will eat right through your tooth enamel. This leads to cavities, which grow larger and more painful over time if not taken care of by your dentist.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and bones surrounding the teeth. Similar to tooth decay, gum disease is caused by plaque interacting with sugars and creating toxins that irritate your gums.
When you brush your teeth, your gums are easily irritated and may become swollen or bleed. Eventually, the plaque hardens causing further irritation that will make the gums recede and pull away from your teeth. This can lead to tooth loss when untreated.
There are a variety of mouth sores that you may encounter. From a simple cold sore, fever blister or canker sore, which can be painful and unsightly but will generally resolve on their own in two weeks or less, to more serious conditions like ulcers and thrush inside your mouth. Ulcers and thrush are painful and easily made worse by sharp, spicy or acidic food.
Tooth erosion is generally caused by that acid we talked about earlier eroding the enamel on your teeth. The teeth become weak and sensitive and may even crack. The best solution for this problem is to see your dentist for a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel.
Most of these issues can be avoided or fixed with simple and regular dental care. The basics include brushing at least twice a day and floss regularly. Ideally, if and when you can it’s best to brush and floss after every meal.
Whitening, tartar control and baking soda toothpaste can be abrasive and can contain phosphates that make teeth sensitive. Use these sparingly.
Be sure to see your dentist every 6 months for a checkup and regular cleaning, and always call if you have concerns or questions.