Caries, or tooth decay, is a preventable disease. While caries might not endanger your life, it may negatively impact your quality of life.
When your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of starches and sugars, acids may form that begin to eat away at tooth enamel. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as candy, cookies, soft drinks and even fruit juices leave deposits on your teeth. Those deposits bond with the bacteria that normally survive in your mouth and form plaque. The combination of deposits and plaque form acids that can damage the mineral structure of teeth, resulting in tooth decay.
Your teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature. Hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth. Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Just breathing cold air can be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth.
Gum, or periodontal disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis, there is bone loss and teeth may fall out or need to be removed by a dentist. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental or medical problem.
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that often recur. The canker sore has a white or gray base surrounded by a red border. Generally lasting one to three weeks, the duration of canker sores can be reduced by the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents and prescription medication. Laser treatment may eliminate the lesion or reduce the duration of the lesion.
A bite that does not meet properly (a malocclusion) can be inherited or may be acquired. Some causes of malocclusion include missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth or misaligned jaws. Accidents or developmental issues, such as finger or thumb sucking over an extended period of time, may cause malocclusions.
Teeth grinding or bruxism, is the habit of grinding, gnashing or clenching the teeth. Occasional teeth grinding is not harmful. However, severe teeth grinding that occurs on a daily basis, can lead to tooth fracture or loss. Other health complications as a result of severe and frequent teeth grinding include jaw disorders (TMD) and headaches.
While some people subconsciously clench their teeth during the day, grinding most often occurs during sleep. This means most people are unaware that they are grinding their teeth.
Signs and symptoms of teeth grinding include:
- A dull headache
- Sore jaw
- Worn tooth enamel
- Fractured, flattened or chipped teeth
- Chronic facial pain
- Tightness in the jaw muscles or jaw pain
Although doctors do not completely understand what causes teeth grinding, possible causes include stress, anxiety or the misalignment of the upper and lower teeth. Both children and adults can experience teeth grinding.
During regular dental exams, our doctors can check for the physical signs of teeth grinding. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, call us. If you notice that your child is grinding his/her teeth or is displaying any of the symptoms, please inform us at their next appointment.
In most cases, no treatment may be necessary. Most children simply “outgrow” the condition, and many adults do not experience the severe teeth grinding that requires therapy.
If the problem becomes severe, we can fit you with a mouthguard or splint to prevent further damage to your teeth.