Common Tooth Problems and How to Prevent Them

Tooth ache, sensitive teeth, bad breath and even oral disease – having dental problems are never fun.  Tooth problems can become quite debilitating too, as they can interfere with eating, speaking and sleeping, and can even negatively affect your social interactions and wellbeing.

But tooth problems can be prevented and, in some cases, reversed with dental treatment, regular check-ups and a proper oral hygiene practice.  In this article, we give information on the most common dental problems and how they can be avoided or treated.


Tooth Decay, Caries or Cavities

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, happens when plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and starches we eat and lingers on our teeth for too long. This combination produces acids that harm the tooth enamel.

Anyone can get a cavity, but children and older people are at most risk.  Cavities can be prevented by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to regular dental check-ups.  Eating healthy foods and avoiding sugary snacks will also help prevent tooth decay.

Bad Breath

Also known as halitosis, bad breath can make social interactions awkward and embarrassing.  The most common culprit for bad breath is the tongue as layers of bacteria can get embedded on it, resulting in foul-odoured volatile sulfur compounds.  If the cause of bad breath is bacteria on the tongue, daily tongue scraping is recommended.

However, bad breath can also have other causes.  Several dental studies indicate that about 85% of people with persistent bad breath have other dental conditions such as gum disease, cavities, oral cancer and dry mouth to blame.  In these cases, gargling mouthwash and tongue scraping just won’t do.  It is best to consult with your dentist and get the appropriate treatment for the dental condition that is causing bad breath.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a bacterial infection caused by plaque that attacks the gums, bone and ligaments surrounding the teeth.  The early stage of gum disease is gingivitis while the advanced stage is periodontitis.  Aside from being one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults, gum disease is also associated with heart attacks and strokes.

Gingivitis can still be reversed by practicing good oral hygiene and going to regular dental check-ups.  To treat periodontitis, your dentist may perform a deep cleaning around the teeth and gums, as well as prescribe medication to fight the infection.

Enamel Erosion

Enamel erosion is caused by exposure to acid that mainly comes from consuming soda, citrus drinks and sports drinks.  The acid from these beverages attacks the tooth enamel, which leads to tooth erosion and discolouration.  Overbrushing can also cause erosion along the gum lines.

To prevent enamel erosion, swap sodas, citrus juices and sports drink for water instead.  Or, if these drinks can’t be avoided, sip them through a straw and follow it up with tooth brushing, sugarless gum or gargle with mouthwash.  If erosion is being caused by over brushing, switch to a soft-bristled or an electric toothbrush and practice a gentle brushing technique.

Tooth Infection

Tooth infection occurs when the pulp inside the tooth and the root canal becomes damaged or infected due to decay or injury.  Bacteria can come in through a deep cavity or a cracked tooth, leading to infection.  If you are experiencing pain in or around the tooth, that may be a sign of infection.

To treat tooth infection, a root canal procedure may be done by your dentist.  It involves removing the pulp, cleaning the pulp chamber and root canal, and filling the tooth.  The tooth may also be sealed with a porcelain crown.  To help prevent tooth infection and avoid the notorious root canal procedure, make sure to go to your dentist and have any cavity or tooth injury fixed as soon as possible.

Tooth Sensitivity

If you experience pain or discomfort around your teeth whenever you have sweets, ice cream or hot and cold drinks, you might have sensitive teeth.  Tooth sensitivity can be caused by many conditions, but chief among them are exposed root surfaces.  The root surface is extremely porous and when exposed, it can allow air and fluids to stimulate the nerve in the centre of the tooth, which gives you the feeling of pain or discomfort.

To help ease tooth sensitivity, your dentist can prescribe a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth.  Your dentist may also apply fluoride to your teeth, paying close attention to the parts of your teeth that meet the gum.

Discoloured Teeth

Yellow teeth may be a dental concern that is cosmetic in nature, but many affected by severely discoloured teeth may experience low self-esteem, making it hard for them to thrive in social situations.  While some may naturally be born with whiter or yellow teeth compared to others, other factors such as diet, aging, plaque and tarter deposits and trauma to the teeth can also cause discoloured teeth.

The good news is that there are several teeth whitening options available today, from over-the-counter whitening kits to dental whitening treatments.  To determine the best option for you, it is best to consult with your dentist. Read more about this in our previous blog on Teeth Whitening.

Missing Teeth

Having missing teeth may seem like a cosmetic concern, but tooth loss has several severe consequences that starts with bone loss. As bone loses width and height, the gum tissue also eventually decreases, impairing a person’s ability to chew and speak. The jawbone is also altered and bite collapse can also occur potentially causing more serious concerns such as TMD (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction).

To prevent these from happening, address tooth loss as soon as possible.  Consider getting dental implants as they not only look like your natural teeth, but they also fuse into your jawbone, giving your bone the stimulation it needs to maintain its form and density.  Ask your dentist about dental implants and if it is a viable solution for you.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is common in adults and can cause a lot of damage to your teeth.  It typically occurs at night during sleep with the person unaware that they are grinding their teeth.  Teeth grinding can cause teeth to become short and blunt and can even result in jaw problems.

To protect your teeth from the damage of teeth grinding, your dentist may fit you with a custom-made night guard that you wear while you sleep.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is a serious and deadly disease.  The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that in the United States, someone dies every hour daily from oral cancer.  The disease may start with a small, pale, read and painless lump in an area of the mouth.  The dentist may screen for cancer by examining and feeling around the patient’s mouth, head and neck.

Three-quarters of oral cancer cases are caused by smoking and smoking in combination with alcohol consumption.  One of the ways to prevent oral cancer is to quit smoking and make sure you visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and screening.

If you are experiencing any of these dental problems, see your dentist immediately.  Getting dental concerns treated as soon as possible, together with a good oral hygiene program, is an important step in maintaining a healthy mouth.

The Paltoglou Dental Centre is happy to discuss any questions you might have on dental health.  Call us on 03 9824 7722.  Our dentists and hygienists are here to help you achieve optimal oral health.

Posted on November 25, 2016 | No comments | Categories: Oral Hygiene |

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APPOINTMENTS : (03) 9824 7722 - 1007 Malvern Road, Toorak Melbourne VIC 3142

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1007 Malvern Road
Toorak, Melbourne 3142
APPOINTMENTS 03 9824 7722


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