Dental problems can occur at any time, even with standard oral hygiene practices like brushing your teeth twice per day. Being woken up by a painful toothache or chipped front tooth, making you too self-aware are not fun. Fortunately, we can avoid most dental problems from occurring or escalating by visiting a dentist at least twice per year or when we suspect something could be wrong.
Our dentists at Washington Dental have decades of experience handling simple to complex dental problems. We have offices in Downtown Los Angeles, Carson, and Lomita, and each office is fully equipped with cutting-edge equipment and trained dental experts to address the evolving needs of clients. We strongly advise patients to prioritize dental checkups even when things seem fine. In this article, we will discuss the common dental issues that you could prevent by making routine visits to a qualified dentist.
- Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Some people have bad breath even after brushing their teeth and using mouthwash as required, and this problem can keep you from participating socially to avoid the embarrassment. Many factors contribute to halitosis, as follows:
- Inconsistent oral hygiene – failure to brush your teeth frequently can lead to bad breath due to the accumulation of food debris inside the mouth, which provides food for bacteria. The mouth has optimum temperatures of 98 degrees Fahrenheit, and this environment causes leftover food particles to start decaying. You give off an offensive odor upon exhaling, and this is what we call bad breath.
- Chronic illnesses – there are medical conditions that contribute to bad breath due to the malfunctioning of major organs like the kidney. For instance, chronic kidney failure can make patients have a fishy or ammonia-like breath. People with diabetes may suffer from inadequate glucose in the bloodstream, and this will trigger a fruity smell when they exhale.
- Periodontal disease – years of neglecting oral hygiene lead to excess accumulation of plaque on the gum line and between teeth. The delicate tissue between teeth weakens over time, and the decay progresses to become gingivitis.
If not appropriately addressed, this condition escalates to periodontal disease. If you cannot stop having an awful smell even after brushing your teeth, there is a possibility that you have gum disease.
- Smoking cigarettes – smokers generally have a terrible smell because the chemical residue from the smoke remains in your airways and mouth, thus causing bad breath. Long term smoking triggers gum disease, and this will contribute to halitosis.
- Food – our daily dietary intake has a significant effect on how our breath smells. Foods with strong scents such as garlic can give you bad breath, albeit for a while. Other foods like cabbage and/or spicy foods can keep feeling once they enter the bloodstream. Digestive gasses can also yield awful smell.
There are many ways of addressing halitosis, such as taking breath mints, using breath fresheners, taking mouthwashes, etc., but these are temporary solutions. Washington Dental advises clients to make appointments twice per year for a thorough checkup so we can detect problems early. Professional teeth cleaning will remove plaque and hardened tartar before it gives you a case of bad breath.
- Oral Cancer
Mouth or oral cancer is a severe ailment that is so pervasive that an estimated 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer by year's end. This problem goes beyond the US, and as per the World Health Organization, there will be an estimated 450,000 new cases globally at the close of 2019.
This disease is deadly, and the Oral Cancer Foundation projects that only 57% of these new patients will live beyond five years. Oral cancer has a higher death rate than other cervical cancer and testicular cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, etc. These grim statistics are attributed to many factors, such as failure to diagnose and start treatment early.
Dental specialists are hard at work persuading patients to make regular appointments, so we can detect any signs of mouth cancer and give a proper diagnosis. For example, red patches (erythroplakia) or white patches (leukoplakia) in your mouth are atypical cell growth. These conditions are precancerous, and you must see a dentist immediately.
Visiting a dentist will help them notice tell-tale signs of this deadly ailment:
- Loose teeth
- Pain in your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Reddish or whitish patch inside the mouth
- Mouse sore that refuses to heal
- Lumps inside the mouth
The above signs could also be indicative of other health conditions, but only a qualified dentist can determine their causes and how to manage them. These visits are a vital cancer screening tool that can reduce the chances of precancerous cells becoming malignant.
- Tooth Decay
Apart from the common cold, tooth decay is the second most prevalent problem in the country. Cavities happen when plaque accumulates above the gum line, in between teeth, or at the edges of past fillings. This sticky substance combines with sugars and starches secreted from the foods we consume, and bacteria feed on them.
Various strains of bacteria then produce acid that attacks the enamel and weakens it, going as far as reaching the dentin, calcified tissue that comprises the tooth structure. Dental caries and decay can be prevented by seeing a dentist regularly so they can detect signs of cavities at the onset. You can develop cavities around worn-out fillings, at the base of teeth, or teeth that have never had issues before.
Please note, anyone can develop tooth decay even with proper oral hygiene regimen. The roots of your teeth soften with age, and they become more exposed, thus paving the way for bacteria to attack. Your dentist will address tooth decay by doing the following:
- Doing a thorough exam of your mouth and gums
- Asking about toothaches and sensitivity
- Probing each tooth with dental instruments to detect soft areas
- Performing dental X-rays to see the degree of cavities
There are many treatments for tooth cavities, depending on what kind of hole you have. We advise clients to consume water with fluorine and brush teeth with fluoride-based toothpaste as this natural mineral has antibacterial properties. Fluoride treatments are effective in addressing cavities and in some cases, reverse the decay process. If you see a dentist soon after detecting a hole, we can remove the affected part and restore the tooth using composite filling.
Dental crowns are another restorative procedure for teeth affected by cavities. The dentist will drill away the decayed parts then place this custom-made covering above what is left of your natural tooth. Root canals are ideal when holes extend beyond the enamel to reach the dental pulp. Your dentist will remove the infected pulp then treat the space to prevent further infection and seal this space with a filling.
In extreme cases, a tooth is so severely damaged that it cannot be salvaged. The best course of action is extracting the infected tooth to protect the adjacent teeth from getting infected. Your dentist will recommend installing a crown and bridge to fill the gap, so the surrounding teeth don't start shifting.
- Gum Disease
We previously mentioned that periodontal disease could lead to bad breath. This gum infection is one of the leading causes of tooth loss among adults, and some studies connect periodontal ailments to heart disease. Seeing a dentist will help them detect any signs of gum disease so they can recommend appropriate treatments.
Smokers, people with dry mouth syndrome, and diabetes patients stand a higher chance of developing periodontal disease. Symptoms of gum disease include swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, halitosis, pain when chewing feed, and tooth sensitivity. Gum disease progresses in stages beginning with gingivitis, which is characterized by red and puffy gums that bleed when brushing teeth. Receding gums and tender gums are other signs of gingivitis that you should be on the lookout for and discuss with a qualified dentist.
This early stage of gum disease is mainly due to inadequate oral hygiene and neglecting dental checkups. Plaque accumulates below the gum line, and then it hardens to form tartar (calculus), which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Tartar builds a protective shield for bacteria, and it irritates the gingiva, the part of the gum at the base of teeth. Seeing a dentist for professional teeth cleaning will help keep plaque and tartar at bay, thus preventing periodontitis.
- Tooth Sensitivity
Many people will experience tooth sensitivity at one time or another, and this problem is usually triggered after consuming cold or hot food and drinks. Cold air or ice cream, or merely brushing and flossing your teeth, could trigger this sensitivity on one or more teeth. When this happens, you may feel excruciating pain and discomfort that can last anywhere between a few minutes to hours.
Some people turn to over-the-counter pain relievers to deal with tooth sensitivity, but this is only a short-term solution. Tooth sensitivity could be indicative of tooth abscess or cracked teeth, and these problems need expedited treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to the jawbone. Washington Dental advises clients to make an appointment once they detect tooth sensitivity so we can treat the source appropriately.
- Misaligned Teeth
Having teeth that are poorly aligned affects your smile, and it may dampen your self-esteem. The teeth could be overcrowded or growing out of place such that you end up with an open bite or underbite. Seeing a dentist routinely can help them detect these problems early so you can get braces to straighten teeth.
Our practice is fully equipped to provide a range of orthodontic treatments and cosmetic dental work aimed at improving your smile. We do teeth whitening or bleaching, so you don't have to be embarrassed by discolored teeth. We also install veneers to cover the spaces between teeth and address crooked teeth. Dental implants are useful for replacing gaps left by fallen teeth. The implant acts as a root to anchor an artificial tooth like a denture or crown.
Bad habits like clenching your teeth can give you headaches, loose teeth, or make them crack. Your dentist will prescribe a mouth guard to protect your teeth and recommend stress-relieving activities like meditation.
Overcrowding is yet another dental issue that can be prevented if you visit a dentist regularly. If you notice overlapping teeth is becoming more noticeable, or food is getting stuck in new places, plan a dental visit. The American Association of Orthodontists surmises that our teeth shift as they grow, and this affects our smile. More so, overcrowded teeth become harder to clean, and this can trigger decay and erosion of the supporting bone.
Regular visits to the dentist will help you notice teeth shifting and devise a treatment plan. Our professionals are also adept at reshaping the enamel and teeth bonding for chipped or broken teeth. Some cosmetic problems are easily solvable, but you must see a qualified dentist discuss ways of regaining that beautiful smile.
A dentist will also notice if you have impacted teeth, which happens when a tooth is stuck against another tooth. Such teeth could be harmless, but they may eventually cause problems that would necessitate removal by an oral surgeon. Hyperdontia is a condition where people grow extra teeth than the typical set of 32. Your dentist will notice when these extra teeth are sprouting and have them removed. If hyperdontia is causing problems with your bite, we can correct this using the right orthodontic treatment.
Find the Dentist Near Me
As you can see above, many teeth problems necessitate seeing a dentist regularly. Many people ignore issues like teeth sensitivity, bad breath, and bleeding gums, until they rot and launch more significant oral problems. Seeing your dentist at least twice per year or when you suspect something is awry will save you pain and discomfort. This precautionary measure will ensure that you keep your teeth strong and healthy.
For extra convenience, Washington Dental has offices in Torrance, Lomita, Carson, and Downtown Los Angeles so that you can visit the office closest to you. Our experts are ready to share their knowledge to help you ward off oral problems. Some solutions are straightforward, such as drinking enough water and upholding proper oral hygiene. You will get the best treatments to heal current issues and stop new ones from starting altogether. If you have been postponing your bi-annual checkup, contact us today for an appointment.