A person’s smile is his signature and most important accessory. Keeping the smile intact takes a lot of effort and believe it or not also reflects the overall health of an individual. Dental & oral hygiene problems can sometimes be really troublesome and may affect the quality of life. Let us look at the five most common dental issues and the ways to tackle them by Dr. Vineetha R, Professor and Head, Oral Medicine and Radiology, Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal.
1. Decayed tooth
Tooth decay (Dental caries) is one of the most common dental problems which can affect people of any age group. It begins on the hard outer covering of a tooth, ie enamel, which if untreated, extends to involve the inner dentin layer and can proceed to infect the pulp (blood vessels and nerves of the tooth). It presents as blackish discoloration of the tooth or as a cavity formed in the tooth. Initially, patients complain of sensitivity to sweets, cold or hot food items or food getting stuck in the cavity. As the decay progresses to reach the pulp of the tooth, it leads to severe tooth-ache which disturbs sleep.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is to maintain good oral hygiene, eat healthy fibrous food and reduce the consumption of sticky food with high sugar content. Regular dental check-ups help to identify the problem at an early stage, thus reducing the amount of damage to the tooth. Filling of the cavity early in the course of treatment facilitates the longevity of the tooth. Teeth with infected pulp can be saved with root canal treatment thus averting the need for a tooth removal. If filling of the tooth is deemed useless by your dental professional, tooth removal may be inevitable.
2. Gum bleeding
Healthy gums are as important for teeth as fertile soil for plants. Gum diseases are a very common dental problem and bleeding from the gums is the initial sign However, it is often neglected unless the situation worsens to cause pain or loosening of teeth. In mild stages, the gum disease is completely reversible and curable, but as it worsens, the treatment options are more complex and surgical procedures are needed for saving the tooth. The other symptoms of gum disease include loosened teeth, salty taste in the mouth due to pus discharge, increased gaps between the teeth, gum swelling etc. The yellow-brown deposits seen on the teeth surfaces due to poor oral hygiene are the most common culprit in the initiation of gum disease. These deposits are in fact bacterial colonies that precipitate the infection in the gums. In addition, to what is seen on teeth surfaces, there can be deposits within gum pockets that can be identified only by a dental professional. Medical conditions like diabetes, kidney diseases etc also can influence the health of gums.
Gum diseases are easily preventable if you maintain good oral hygiene and keep the teeth surfaces clean. Any plaque or deposits which are already formed on the teeth surfaces can be removed by dental scaling procedures. In advanced gum disease, dental procedures like deep scaling and surgical procedures may be required. Regular dental visits can help in identifying this condition at an early stage.
3. Bad breath (Malodour)
Whenever a person complains of bad breath or malodour, the rule of thumb is to first check for any dental cause. Poor oral hygiene, gum diseases, tooth decay, retained food particles in between teeth etc can cause foul odour emanating out. Once the dental problems are ruled out, the tonsillar, sinus or nasal infections are next in line. Ingestion of garlic, onion, spicy masala, hard-boiled eggs etc. may also cause bad breath. As this dental issue can affect the self-confidence of a person and can impact the social relationship, it needs to be thoroughly evaluated and managed.
Keeping the mouth clean, proper hydration by regular sips of small amounts of water or swishing the mouth at frequent intervals are easy tips to keep malodour at bay. Nonetheless, bad breath can also be noticed in patients suffering from uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disorders and certain medications. Thus, bad oral odour can be due to multiple causes and identifying the exact reason and providing the treatment accordingly is a challenge.
4. Crooked teeth (unaesthetically aligned teeth)
Smile is the best part of one’s personality. Well-aligned beautiful teeth play an important role in an attractive smile. A person’s smile can get largely affected by awkwardly positioned teeth. There can be either forwardly placed, rotated or crowded teeth, increased gaps between the teeth or even an improper bite. The abnormally placed teeth can not only affect your smile and looks, but also the efficiency to chew food. Some of these alignment issues can be prevented by early intervention at childhood itself, whereas few need to be treated only after the growth phase is completed. Early intervention using myo-functional appliances can improve the jaw tooth discrepancies to a good extent. Fixed braces are the most commonly preferred method of treatment after completion of growth.
The correction of misalignment of teeth is a relatively expensive and time-consuming procedure and should be done in a slow, systematic manner by a qualified professional. In cases where the jaw bone discrepancy is more prominent than tooth positioning, surgical correction of jaw alignment may be required for the best results.
5. Missing teeth
Reasons for missing teeth can be due to failure of teeth to develop or their removal due to extensive decay, fracture or advanced gum disease, the latter being more common. Less likely, it can be missing because it may be stuck inside the jaw bone. When multiple teeth are missing, it can affect the growth of the jaw bone and the facial appearance. Removal of teeth can lead to reduced efficiency of chewing resulting in indigestion issues and increased workload to the other teeth and the jaw joint. Also, the opposing and the adjacent teeth may shift from their original position or may incline to the empty space due to the lack of hindrance. This may lead to unwanted gaps between the adjacent teeth and may be a constant area of food impaction.
Missing teeth, especially from the front part of the jaws can affect the speech, appearance and self-confidence of the person. It is always advisable to replace a missing tooth with an artificial prosthesis. There are a multitude of options available for the patients ranging from simple removable dentures to fixed replacements including implant fixtures. The decision on the type of replacement depends on the location of the missing tooth, remaining bone support, overall health status, status of the remaining teeth and the affordability of the patient.
Expert Tips To Tackle Dental Problems
Dental complaints are very common in all age groups. But most of these problems can be easily prevented if you follow these tips.
- Brush twice daily once in the morning and once at night after the food. Toothpaste containing fluorides is preferred. Clean your tongue every day to avoid coating
- Use dental floss whenever food gets stuck in between teeth. Learn the correct method of using dental floss from your dentist
- Eat healthy nutritious food, rich in fibre. Avoid sticky, sugary items. Including fruits and vegetables in your diet can provide a natural cleansing action to the teeth. Chewing of unrefined and fibrous food can also help in the development of jaw bones and better tooth alignment in children
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal
- Visit your dentist twice a year. This will help to identify any dental issues at the early stage.
These were the five most common dental problems that people deal with. There are many other oral health problems that can also occur if you don’t take oral hygiene seriously. Dental expert has suggested ways to treat tooth problems by taking preventive measures. Do not ignore any issue as it could lead to serious dental impairment. Consult a dentist and get the right treatment on time.
Read More Articles in Other Diseases