A clean, healthy smile is more than just an aesthetic goal for many. It’s also a key part of good overall health. That’s why it’s vital to be informed about various dental issues that can harm your oral health. Knowing the signs and symptoms of these helps you catch them early before severe consequences set in and take action to fix the problem. This article will dive into four of the most common dental problems, including some of their symptoms and how to treat or prevent each one.
If you’re wondering what malocclusion is, it’s the medical term for misaligned or imperfectly positioned teeth when your mouth is closed. Malocclusion can lead to chipped teeth and trouble eating or speaking.
Malocclusion is often hereditary, meaning you can’t entirely prevent it. That said, children sucking their thumb or fingers often can cause or worsen malocclusion. Trauma to the face while young can cause it as well.
Fortunately, malocclusion can be fixed with orthodontic solutions like braces and clear aligners. Braces stay on your teeth throughout treatment, pulling your teeth into place. Treatment can last at least two years. Clear aligners are removable, invisible devices molded to fit snugly onto your teeth and pull them into place. Treatment can last at least six months.
There are several stages of gum disease. On the mild end is gingivitis. Gingivitis happens when plaque and bacteria build up in the mouth — especially around the gum line — leading to an infection. This can happen as a result of inadequate oral hygiene, although activities like smoking or chewing tobacco could worsen it.
Although gingivitis doesn’t always show symptoms, it can lead to red, swollen, or sensitive gums. Gums may also bleed more easily when you have gingivitis. Fixing gingivitis is paramount to preventing gum disease from worsening. This can be done by visiting your dentist to get the proper cleaning and maintaining a good oral health routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
3. Tooth decay
Your teeth have a hard outer layer called enamel that protects the soft and sensitive inner layers that contain the dentin, nerves, and blood vessels. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria consume sugars and starch left from the foods you eat to create acids that eat away at the enamel. Signs and symptoms include:
- Tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity
Untreated tooth decay can lead to serious tooth damage and even tooth loss. Like with gingivitis, good oral health habits and regular dental visits can keep tooth decay at bay. If you have cavities or similar decay that has advanced beyond its earliest stages, you may need to get a dental filling.
Halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. It’s not temporary bad breath you can solve via a mint, gum, or brushing/rinsing once. Instead, halitosis is often a sign of another dental issue or medical issue affecting a nearby region. For example, the following could cause halitosis:
- Dry mouth
- Nose, mouth, or throat infection
- Cavities/tooth decay
- Gum disease
Smoking and chewing tobacco may also cause halitosis.
The bottom line
Many dental problems are almost completely preventable. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing go a long way in preventing gingivitis, tooth decay, halitosis, and all the symptoms these problems bring. Visiting your dentist ensures that any spots you miss are taken care of.
But other issues, like malocclusion, can be hereditary. Fortunately, these are also treatable via braces and clear aligners. Knowing the signs of these dental problems help you address them as early as possible, mitigating the damage and restoring your smile.
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