6 Common tooth related concerns

Gum disease

Bleeding gums is a common concern for many people worldwide. Can you ignore bleeding gums? NO…….

The gums with the underlying bone is the support structure for the teeth. Together, they are called the “periodontium”. The gums are attached to the teeth by fibres of the periodontium called the periodontal ligament.

When a biofilm called plaque builds on the teeth, the harmful bacteria make home in the plaque. These bacteria eat away the gums. The result is bleeding gums!! The condition is called gingivitis and is treatable and the condition is reversible.

The damage is greater when this biofilm hardens to form tartar. The tartar has to be removed by your dentist or your dental hygienist. If the condition is not treated at this stage, the damage progresses to the underlying bone. Then it becomes periodontitis. Advanced periodontitis is irreversible. You may lose your teeth at this point.

Visit your dentist for regular check ups and treatment. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to keep your gums healthy.

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is a bacterial disease affecting the teeth. This is seen in all age groups. The tooth decays when the enamel of the tooth is dissolved by the acids from the bacteria. This makes the inner softer dentin an easy target for the bacteria. The tooth can b filled and restored for normal function at this stage. Left untreated, the bacteria enter the inner layer called the pulp. You may experience tooth pain when the pulp is invaded by the bacterial toxins. Your tooth has to be treated with a RCT and a crown.

Visit your dentist regularly. He will detect early decay and help you save your teeth. Good oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing are important.

Tooth/ jaw pain

Your tooth can hurt because of

  • An untreated decay infecting the pulp
  • Untreated gum disease
  • Tooth abscess
  • Unerupted wisdom teeth
  • Bruxism
  • TMD

The wisdom tooth comes into the mouth between 18 and 22 years of age. The tooth may not erupt fully into the mouth due to lack of space in the jaws. The tooth is then said to be locked in the jaws ( “impacted”) The impacted tooth is a source of infection and pain. The impacted wisdom tooth will be removed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Clenching of teeth or bruxism is grinding of teeth usually in your sleep. You could have pain in the jaws and teeth on waking up in the morning. Excessive wear of teeth is a common finding in such patients. A night guard fabricated by your dentist is helpful in preventing the grinding habit. Severely worn down teeth may be sensitive and may require other treatment procedures.

The TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) Is the articulating joint of the jaw. This joint makes the movement of the lower jaw possible. The joint is surrounded by muscles and ligaments. Any damage to these structures can cause pain in the area. Further, clicking sounds in the joint is common.

Visit your dentist for further evaluation of the problems.

Missing teeth

Most adult sin the age of 25 to 60 have at least 3-4 missing or decayed teeth. If you have any missing teeth in your mouth, you have many reasons to correct the problem. Missing teeth affect

  • speech
  • Chewing efficiency
  • Bone thickness around the missing teeth
  • drifting of teeth affecting the bite( occlusion )
  • Aesthetics
  • Collapse in the jaw height causing an aged appearance

Your dentist can help you with replacing the missing teeth. Generally, missing teeth are replaced by

  • Removable dentures
  • Bridges or fixed dentures
  • Implants

Tooth sensitivity

If you feel a sharp pain for hot or cold foods, you have a very common dental problem–Sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can occur because of

  • Cavities
  • Fractured teeth
  • Fractured or worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn out enamel( abrasion and/or erosion )
  • Exposed root surfaces

Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist may recommend a desensitising paste in some cases. Others may need further treatment procedures like filling, application of sealants, scaling or RCT based on the cause of the sensitivity. Talk to your dentist about your concerns and questions. A good oral hygiene is the key for prevention of sensitivity.

Dry mouth

Everyone’s mouth can be dry sometimes, but if you feel like your mouth is always dry, it may be time to seek treatment. Dry mouth can be because of dehydration, medications, salivary gland diseases and certain health conditions. Talk to your dentist who will help you identify the cause of the dry mouth. You may be referred to a physician for further tests. Having a dry mouth in itself may not be serious but caring for your gums and teeth is important. Keep your dentist informed about your medications and your health that may help identify the cause. Your health care provider will suggest treatment options accordingly.