Common Dental Problems – Oral Health Checks Post-Lockdown

Throughout lockdown many people were exposed to distress caused by disruption to key services. Limited access to dental surgeries has driven up common dental problems with patients forgoing regular check-ups.

Dentists are now urging the public to carry out oral health checks to prevent easily avoidable issues becoming more challenging and costly dental emergencies. Regular check-ups along with brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily play an important role in preventing problems.

Here is a list of 15 common dental issues to watch out for.

  1. Bad Breath

According to dental studies about 85% of people with persistent bad breath have a dental condition to blame. There are a wide range of triggers including gum disease, cavities, oral cancer, dry mouth and bacteria on the tongue. Using mouthwash to cover up bad breath caused by a dental problem will only serve to mask the odour but will remain a problem. If you have chronic bad breath, it is important to visit your dentist to rule out these problems or seek further support.

  1. Gum (Periodontal) Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is one of the main causes of tooth loss among adults. It involves an infection within the gums surrounding the teeth. Although scientists believe it may be linked to heart disease, everyone is at risk of gum disease. It usually occurs after the age of 30. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors. Diabetes and dry mouth also increase risk. Key symptoms include bad breath, red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and painful chewing. 

  1. Oral Cancer

This is a serious, deadly and sadly common disease that affects millions of people yet is often curable if diagnosed and treated in early stages. It is most common in people over the age of 40 with the biggest risk factors including tobacco and alcohol. HPV, a sexually transmitted wart virus, also increases the risk. Symptoms of mouth or throat cancer include sores, lumps, or rough areas in the mouth. You may also have a change in your bite and difficulty chewing or moving your tongue or jaw. Regular dental visits can help catch oral cancer early. 

  1. Clenching and grinding 

Grinding your teeth is also known as bruxism. Stress can be a key cause, while misaligned teeth or sleep issues can also be culprits among adults. Amongst children, clenching and grinding can be caused by allergies. This is an unpleasant dental complaint which can give rise to headaches, a sore jaw, and cracked or loose teeth. If you grind your teeth at night, this can be managed with a mouth guard. Meanwhile, daytime problems can be treated with meditation, exercise and other ways to curb stress.

  1. Wisdom teeth

It is estimated that around 90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth, which has not fully grown in. This can lead to a range of problems including cavities, damage to neighbouring teeth and gum disease. Wisdom teeth generally appear between the ages of 17 and 25 and dentists play an important role in tracking their progress. Persistent problems may require removal.

  1. No room to floss

There should always be room for floss between teeth. If not, you may need to switch to a thinner or waxed floss. A popular option is dental tape. You can also try alternative tools, such as a looped flosser or dental pick. Experiment different options until you find a product that works for you, and then use it every day. Flossing is essential for your dental health. Maida Smiles Clinic hygienist and dentists are here to help and advise if you need.

  1. Mouth Sores

There are several types of mouth sores, most of which are usually harmless unless they last more than two weeks. Common examples include canker sores which occur inside the mouth and not on the lips. They are not contagious and can be triggered by many different causes. Fever blisters or cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus and occur on the edge of the outer lips. They are contagious and will come and go but are not completely curable. Mouth sores are also seen in oral thrush or candidiasis, a yeast infection of the mouth that can be seen in infants, denture wearers, people with diabetes, and during cancer treatment.

  1. Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion is caused by acid attacking the enamel leading to a loss of tooth structure. Key signs and symptoms can range from sensitivity to more severe problems such as cracking. Tooth erosion is more common than people might think, but it can also be easily prevented.

  1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, also known as cavities, features alongside the common cold as one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. It occurs when plaque combines with sugars and/or starch within the food we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. Cavities can be experienced at any age, and as we get older cavities can develop as tooth enamel erodes. Dry mouth due to age or medications can also lead to cavities. One of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay is simply by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and going to regular check-ups. Avoiding sugary snacks and drinks is also advisable. 

  1. Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a common problem affecting millions of people. It can involve pain or discomfort caused by cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks or ice cream. Some may even experience discomfort brushing and flossing. Sensitive teeth can be caused a cracked tooth or abscess, worn tooth enamel or fillings, gum disease or exposed roots. All of which require urgent attention to prevent tooth loss or infection. Treatment may involve a filling, root canal, or gum restoration to replace tissue lost at the root. Alternatively, it may be solved by a less invasive solution such as desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride gel.

  1. Toothache

Having a dental emergency can be very painful and scary. Common problems that require an urgent trip to your dentist include a broken or cracked tooth, an abscessed tooth, or a tooth knocked out in an accident. Chipped teeth are the most common dental injury. Incidents range greatly and teeth can be damaged by something as simple as eating popcorn. Your dentist may recommend a crown if the chip is large or bonding with a strong resin material to replace the area that chipped. If the pulp is at risk, you may need a root canal followed by a veneer or crown.

  1. Smile restoration & Stained teeth

While smile restoration work is not technically a ‘dental problem’ it is a major reason why many patients seek dental treatment. People who are unhappy with their smile frequently suffer from lower self-esteem. However, with today’s technology and developments, anyone can have a beautiful smile. Foods, medications, tobacco and trauma are just some things that can discolour teeth. Key forms of treatment for smile restoration and stained teeth issues include teeth whitening, dental implants and orthodontics.

  1. Impacted teeth 

An “impacted” tooth is an adult tooth which does not grow into the gum correctly. It usually happens when a tooth is stuck against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue. Certain instances can be left untreated, however, if it hurts or may cause problems later on an oral surgeon can remove it.

  1. Tooth crowding

Most people have 20 primary, or baby teeth, followed by 32 adult teeth. It’s rare, but some people have extra teeth, which is known as hyperdontia. People who have it may also have another condition, such as a cleft palate or Gardner’s Syndrome (which forms benign tumours). Treatment involves teeth removal and orthodontics to correct the bite.

  1. Dry Mouth

Sometimes called xerostomia. This is a condition where saliva glands are not able to produce enough saliva to keep the inside of the mouth moist. It is caused by several things such as smoking, prescription medication, aging or stress.  Saliva has antibacterial components that helps keep plaque off teeth surfaces. The absence of moisture in the mouth contributes to more plaque build-up, cavities and eventually, tooth decay. Common symptoms of dry mouth could be as simple as chapped lips, mouth sores and bad breath but more serious symptoms can manifest such as gum irritation and a burning feeling in the mouth.

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