What are Common Dental Problems?
Common dental problems range from tooth aches, dental abscesses to tooth loss. Stained or discolored teeth, swollen gums (gingivitis), crooked or maligned teeth, bruxism (teeth grinding), sensitivity, cavities, TMJ problems, abscessed teeth and halitosis are all dental problems many people face. These problems are caused by the consumption of certain foods, often diseases and poor dental hygiene.
Stained or Discolored Teeth
Stained or discolored teeth are caused by the consumption of red wine, coffee, tea and carbonated sodas. Other causes for stained or discolored are smoking or chewing tobacco, tetracycline staining during fetal life and fluorosis.
Swollen Gums (Gingivitis)
This is a result of poor oral hygiene, leading to excessive build of plaque, calculus and tartar which irritate the gums, causing gingivitis. This is characterized by tender, inflamed and easily bleeding gums.
Crooked or Misaligned Teeth
The teeth may become crooked or misaligned from the poor development patterns of the teeth, usually caused by early loss of milk teeth, or overcrowding i.e. when permanent teeth replace milk teeth. Another cause is excessive nail biting, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and pacifiers during childhood, while genetics also play a part in crooked or misaligned teeth.
Bruxism (Grinding Teeth)
Bruxism is when one clenches or grinds their teeth. It’s usually caused by stress, an abnormal or ‘bad’ bite and/or missing or crooked teeth. Since the grinding mostly happens when one is asleep, most people aren’t aware that they have bruxism. A dull consistent headache or a sore TMJ are telltale signs of bruxism. It should be treated immediately because it could lead to many other dental problems such as TMJ disorder, tooth wear, cracked- tooth syndrome and others.
Tooth sensitivity or dentine sensitivity is discomfort, which happens when teeth are affected by either hot, cold or sweet foods. The discomfort is caused when the dentine (the under laying layer beneath the enamel crown) of the tooth becomes exposed due to receding gum tissue around the roots of the tooth. Once this is stripped away the dentine tubules are exposed and become stimuli for cold or hot or sweet food to reach the nerves which cause the discomfort.
Cavities or tooth decay is probably the most common dental problem Cavities are caused by bacteria present in the mouth, as the bacteria convert food in the mouth to acids. The bacteria, acid and food debris in the mouth form plaque, which adheres to tooth surfaces causing dental decay. The acid in the plaque causes the enamel in the teeth to dissolve, creating holes in the teeth (cavities).
The TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) is the area directly in front of the ear where the lower jaw bone meets the skull. TMJ pain occurs due to teeth grinding, habitual biting of finger nails or constant chewing of gum, dental problems, misalignment of teeth and stress or trauma to the jaw i.e. where the jaw bones have been fractured. Symptoms of TMJ are headaches, hearing sounds like popping, grinding or crunching sounds, ear pain, dizziness and ringing of the ear.
Abscessed teeth occur when there is a collection of infected material or pus in the center of the tooth. It is usually caused by tooth decay, a broken or fractured tooth, cracks or openings in the tooth enamel which allow the bacteria to enter of the tooth and affect the dental pulp. The infection causes the tissues in the tooth to swell, called pulpitis, causing a severe toothache. Other symptoms include bad breath, bitter taste, swelling of the lymph nodes, fever and malaise. A painful swelling in the upper or lower jaw is a very serious symptom.
Halitosis or bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene, but it may also be a sign of other health problems. It is also caused by eating certain types of foods which have strong odors like garlic or onions. Bad breath is also a sign for other health problems such as gum disease, dry mouth, cavities, poorly fitting dental appliances or even a yeast infection of the mouth. Smoking and chewing tobacco is also a major cause of halitosis.