The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist at least once a year to maintain optimal oral health. Why? Because a healthy smile is more than just a confident grin; it’s a reflection of your overall well-being. In this comprehensive guide from Commonwealth Dental Clinic, we’ll walk you through the top five most common dental issues seen in our practices, along with valuable insights on identification, treatment, and how to take steps to prevent these issues from arising in the first place.

The Top Five Most Common Dental Issues

When it comes to the average dental patient’s experiences, five dental issues frequently surface in the examination chair. These are:

·        Cavities (Tooth Decay)

·        Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

·        Tooth Sensitivity

·        Tooth Decay

·        Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Understanding the nature of each issue and taking the time to educate yourself about prevention and treatment can go a long way in ensuring your smile remains radiant and healthy.

Cavities (Tooth Decay)

The notorious cavities, also known as tooth decay, are the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults. They are caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks, and not cleaning your teeth well.

The main culprit for tooth decay leading to cavities is plaque — that sticky film on your teeth that forms after you eat or drink. If the plaque is not brushed away, acids produced by the bacteria enter the enamel, which is the hard outer surface of your teeth, and create a cavity.

Typically, you may not experience any symptoms until after significant damage to the tooth. But you may notice a toothache, spontaneous pain, or pain when you eat or drink something sweet, hot, or cold. Pay attention to any symptoms you do notice, because left untreated, cavities can cause an infection, severe pain, tooth loss, and, in extreme cases, lead to situations needing surgical interventions such as tooth extractions.

The most common treatment is a dental filling, typically made of a composite resin that matches the color of your tooth. For more severe cases, a crown or a root canal may be necessary. The dental team at Commonwealth Dental Clinic will walk you through the recommended treatment for you case should you find yourself with a cavity.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

Gum disease, or gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that supports the teeth. It’s usually the result of poor oral hygiene leading to the buildup of plaque.

Once again, plaque is a main culprit. It doesn’t just harm your teeth; it can also inflame your gums. This early stage of gum disease manifests through swelling and bleeding gums, which are often dismissed as minor or accidental.

Gum disease symptoms include bad breath that will not go away, red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, or sensitive teeth. If not treated, gum disease can progress to periodontitis, which can cause further damage to the supporting connective tissues and even lead to tooth loss.

At the first signs of gum disease, professional dental cleanings at Commonwealth Dental Clinic and maintaining good oral hygiene at home are the first treatment step. More advanced cases may require scaling and root planing or even surgery.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the tooth’s enamel wears down or when the gums recede, exposing the underlying surface—the dentin—and reducing the protection the enamel and gums provide to the tooth and root surfaces.

Common causes of tooth sensitivity include tooth decay, a cracked tooth, worn fillings, and gum disease. Over-brushing or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can also cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity.

If you experience a sudden, sharp flash of pain when you drink or eat a hot or cold beverage or food, this is a good indicator of tooth sensitivity. Pay attention to this symptom, as persistent, significant tooth sensitivity could be an indication of a more serious problem, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

Tell your dentist at Commonwealth Dental Group about any tooth sensitivity you may be experiencing. Treatment options can range from the use of desensitizing toothpaste and fluoride treatments to filling cavities, gum grafts, or even a surgical repair of the tooth root in extreme cases.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common condition that can be caused by numerous and sometimes serious underlying conditions.

Poor oral hygiene is just one of several issues that can lead to bad breath. Other causes include dry mouth, tobacco products, certain foods like garlic and onions, and underlying medical conditions. While bad breath alone isn’t life-threatening, it could be a sign of health issues such as gum disease and needs to be addressed in such cases. Treatment depends on the underlying cause but usually involves improving oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing.

Prevention of Common Issues and Regular Dental Care

Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to oral health. Here’s what you can do to maintain a healthy smile and address issues promptly:

Brush and floss regularly: Good oral hygiene is the best defense against dental issues. Brush twice a day and floss at least once daily.

Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride helps to harden tooth enamel and reduces the risk of tooth decay.

Watch your diet: Limit sugary and acidic foods, which can contribute to decay and cavities.

Avoid tobacco products: Tobacco can stain your teeth, cause gum disease, and lead to oral cancer.

Schedule regular dental visits: Professional cleanings can get rid of hard-to-reach plaque and identify issues before they become severe.

Be aware of changes in your mouth: If you notice anything different, such as persistent bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist at Commonwealth Dental Clinic.

Oral Health Equals Overall Health

Maintaining good oral health is a lifelong commitment, but it’s a vital one. By understanding the common dental issues and their potential risks, you’re better prepared to take proactive steps toward prevention and address them should they arise. Regular dental check-ups and a strong daily oral hygiene routine are your best allies in the fight for a healthy smile. Remember, your dental health is a key component of your overall well-being, so don’t put it off.

Our caring team at Commonwealth Dental Clinic is here to treat any of these common dental issues, and much more, for patients in the Roanoke, VA area. Contact us today to make an appointment for a consultation. Your dental health and comfort are our priorities.