Dental problems can occur for many reasons. Some can be prevented, while others cannot. Listed below are some of the most common dental problems, their causes, and ways to prevent them.
The most common cause of tooth decay is plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth due to the accumulation of oral bacteria from food particles left on the teeth. When sugars are consumed, the bacteria produce acids that attack tooth enamel. If left untreated, this can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Brushing and flossing help to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. However, the bristles of your toothbrush can’t reach all the way into the deep crevices of your mouth, so it’s important to have regular cleanings and exams with our dentist. These visits allow the dental hygienist to remove any buildup of plaque or tartar that you just can’t remove on your own. They can also give your teeth a deep clean using a tool called an ultrasonic scaler. Sometimes fluoride treatments can also help to remineralize weakened areas on a tooth’s surface too.
Some patients also take additional steps at home to help prevent tooth decay, such as rinsing with a mouthwash that has a high concentration of fluoride in it or using prescription toothpaste that contains more fluoride. Another option for some patients is to apply dental sealants to their teeth to help further protect them. Dental sealants are a thin coating that can be brushed onto the surface of the teeth. They harden quickly to form a protective barrier that lasts several years. Talk to a dentist to find out which options are best for you.
Gum disease is a common problem. It’s caused by built-up plaque on and between teeth that aren’t removed with daily brushing and flossing. This plaque buildup causes gums to become inflamed, leading to bleeding when you brush or floss. The infection may also cause your gums to recede as a result of bone loss. If left untreated, gum disease can cause severe damage to your teeth and lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, it’s easily preventable with good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist for exams and cleanings.
There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form of the disease that can usually be treated with more frequent professional cleanings and better at-home care. Periodontitis is a more serious condition that can progress rapidly if not treated properly. Treatment may involve deep cleanings known as scaling and root planing and antibiotics or other medications prescribed by your dentist.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should floss every day to clean out any food particles between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. It’s also recommended that you rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash once a day to help kill bacteria and remove plaque from any remaining areas in your mouth that can’t be reached with a toothbrush and floss. Regular dental visits are also important to keep gum disease at bay.
Teeth grinding, or bruxism is a common problem that can lead to serious complications for your oral health if not properly treated. In addition to jaw pain and inflammation from bruxism, the repeated clenching and shifting of the jaw can result in broken teeth and worn-down enamel. Stress and anxiety are the most common causes of bruxism. The condition can also be caused by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Most people who grind their teeth are unaware of the condition until they wake up with jaw pain or are told by their partner that they grind their teeth at night.
There is no cure for bruxism, but there are ways to minimize it and offer relief to those who are already suffering from its effects. If you suffer from bruxism, talk to your dentist about your treatment options. Your dentist may recommend the use of a night guard or other oral appliance to protect your teeth while you sleep. A night guard can also protect your teeth from further wear and tear by cushioning your bite and preventing you from grinding in your sleep. Other methods of treating and preventing bruxism include relaxation techniques such as meditation and stress-relief exercises. You may also benefit from behavior modification strategies to help you manage your stress and anxiety levels. Working to find the root cause of your anxiety can also help you treat bruxism through stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises.
To learn more, contact our dentist in Federal Way, WA, at Marine Hills Dentistry by calling (253) 839-2800 or visiting us at 1500 S Dash Point Rd, Federal Way, WA, 98003.