Oral hygiene is essential in maintaining one’s overall health. Failing to practice proper oral care exposes one to gum diseases and other dental problems, further leading to health issues or costly dental procedures.
Dental problems and oral diseases afflict billions of individuals worldwide. Children and adults in developing and high-income countries continue to suffer from gum problems, cavities, and other symptoms. Below, discover the top issues that plague your mouth and the immediate solutions for them.
1. Tooth Decay
On a global scale, some 3.5 billion people have had dental caries or tooth decay in 2017. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, 2.3 billion were adults and about 530 million children.
Otherwise known as dental caries, tooth decay occurs when the enamel breaks down due to improper hygiene, bacteria, and a high sugar diet. A parched mouth can also contribute to this condition.
First, plaque forms on teeth and interacts with the sugar or starches in your food. This combination releases acid, which damages the enamel. Some of the most telling signs of tooth decay are discolorations on the teeth, too much sensitivity, and bad breath.
Solutions: Tooth decay treatment includes fluoride treatments, fillings, crowns, root canals, and, in severe cases, tooth extraction. Proper oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are two of the best ways to prevent tooth decay or recurrence.
2. Missing Tooth Or Teeth
When left unaddressed, tooth decay can lead to missing teeth. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, about 178 million Americans have at least one missing tooth, while 40 million have all of their teeth missing. Additionally, 30% of persons aged 65-74 no longer have their natural teeth.
Solutions: There are a few options to regain your look and replace lost teeth, depending on how many pearly whites you’ve lost and where.
- Dentures: This is one of the cheapest ways to replace your partial or complete set of teeth. A partial set of dentures needs to have a metal clasp to attach to your remaining teeth. It can, sometimes, be uncomfortable and need daily cleaning so that it won’t contribute further to tooth decay.
- Dental bridges: If your missing tooth is between either side of your natural teeth, fix your problem by having a dental bridge. Expect your dentist to place a crown on your remaining teeth and cement your artificial pearly whites in place. Your new set of teeth mimics the look and feel of your natural teeth.
- Dental implants: This expensive dental procedure is invasive and starts with the placement of metal screws in your gums. You’ll have to wait for a few months for the screw to heal and fuse to your jawbone. Later on, the screws will act as an anchor to the false teeth to replace your missing pearly whites.
Visit your local cosmetic dentist to seek recommendations and perform any of these dental procedures as soon as possible.
3. Gum Disease
Gum disease typically starts with gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Over time, the condition worsens and progresses into periodontitis, otherwise known as gum infection. It’s a severe oral problem that destroys the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. As the bone and gums become damaged, the affected tooth loosens from the root and falls out.
Periodontal disease may also lead to other oral issues, including gum recession, loose teeth, and bad breath. While anyone can develop gum disease, adults over age 30, smokers, diabetes patients, and individuals with dry mouth are more susceptible to this gum problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a weakened immune system and poor oral hygiene also contribute to gum disease, which afflicts up to 46% of Americans aged over 30; the agency further states.
Bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and painful chewing are the hallmark symptoms of gum disease. If you experience these signs, visit your dentist for proper treatment.
Solutions: Depending on the severity of the issue, your dentist may perform any of the following procedures:
- Professional cleaning: Also known as scale and polish, this involves removing plaque and tartar buildup, and deep cleaning your teeth to avoid stains. An accumulation of serious dirt on your pearly whites will likely require more than one session.
- Root planing: The dentist may perform debridement or root planing if the infection has reached the gums. Besides cleaning your teeth of plaque and tartar, this approach involves getting into the roots to get rid of the infection. You’d need anesthesia to manage pain.
- Surgery: Periodontal surgery may be recommended for severe cases.
After performing any of these treatments, a dentist will require you to practice proper oral hygiene, reduce sugar consumption, and more frequent dental visits to reduce the risk of recurrence.
4. Oral Cancer
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that about 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer yearly. While considered a severe and life-threatening condition, oral cancer is curable, primarily if addressed early.
Oral cancer can grow anywhere in the mouth, from the lips to the cheeks, the palate, pharynx, and tongue. Persistent mouth sores and lumps are the main symptoms, including challenges in moving the tongue or jaw. Alcohol and tobacco use, as well as human papillomavirus (HPV), contribute to the development of this condition.
Solutions: As with other health conditions, prevention is better than cure when dealing with oral cancer. If it’s already developed, your physician may recommend one or a combination of these solutions, depending on the severity of your condition and health status:
- Surgery is an operation that may be required to remove the tumor and save your healthy cells.
- Radiation involves utilizing beams to destroy cancer cells and may be used in conjunction with chemotherapy or as a stand-alone treatment.
- Chemotherapy is a drug treatment most often administered to cancer patients and radiation therapy to kill cancer cells faster.
The Bottom Line
If you’re one of the many experiencing any of oral issues listed above, or you suspect that you have dental issues not mentioned in this article, it’s time to visit your dentist. According to the WHO, most oral diseases are preventable and treatable when diagnosed at an early stage.
While multiple issues can trigger oral health problems, the agency further recommends getting rid of a high sugar diet and consumption of alcohol and tobacco, and regular visits to the dentist to minimize the risks of developing dental issues.