A healthy, bright smile can help get you noticed by not just people you want to date, but professionals, clients, and family alike. Having a healthy, big smile is also a great confidence booster. If you have teeth that are damaged, decaying, brown, and hurting all the time, it might not just be a sign of unhealthiness physically, but also signal deeper problems in self-care.
Not to worry, you are not alone. Medical problems in dentistry are some of the most common, and dentists are here to help, but help can prove costly. In fact, according to Harvard, oral conditions are the fourth most expensive to treat. In the U.S. alone, $110 billion is spent every year on people trying to solve medical problems in dentistry. Why are these amounts so staggering?
Where do Oral Diseases Come From?
Since the dawn of time, humans have depended on a variety of foods to live. Our teeth are so important and such a staple of our evolution, they are used in anthropology to determine our evolutionary timeline. However, since the start of agriculture, humans no longer have to depend on simple meats, legumes, plants, and fruits to survive. Whereas before the human diet was varied, now only one food group makes its way to the top: carbohydrates.
What do Carbs do to our Teeth?
Many medical problems in dentistry arise from the consumption of carbohydrates. This is a new issue in our human history, with the advent of farmed grains, breads, rice, and finally sugar products. American’s love of sugar is staggering, with the average American consuming almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to 3 pounds of sugar a week! Sugars are killers on our teeth, as our carbs that we consume that then turn into sugar. Both of these, combined, cause many of our modern dental problems.
It’s important to be aware of the most common medical problems in dentistry around today. If you start feeling pain or any other symptoms, knowing what to look for can help you solve your dental problems sooner, and save you thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention added pain. Here are 15 of the most common medical problems in dentistry, and some of the symptoms you can be aware of.
1. Tooth Sensitivity
Have you ever took a sip of cold water, or eaten ice cream, and found yourself wincing at the cold feeling on your teeth? This is one of the most common medical problems in dentistry, and is known as tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is not only annoying, but incredibly painful for some people as well, and doesn’t allow them to enjoy everyday food and beverages. Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of reasons. Some of these include cavities, worn tooth enamel or fillings, gum disease, fractured teeth, and even exposed roots. Any of these issues can be resolved by your dentist and should be treated accordingly. In addition, your dentist might prescribe you something as simple as fluoride gel or desensitizing toothpaste to use every day.
2. Tooth Aches
Toothaches can be immensely painful, and cause problems such as increases in blood pressure due to pain, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety to top it all off. Toothaches have a variety of causes, and sometimes can be caused by something as simple as food being stuck in the middle of your gums. Whatever the case may be, toothaches can be bothersome and signal a more serious problem. Rinsing your mouth with warm water, either distilled or boiled first to remove impurities, as well as taking over-the-counter medicines such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen can help you with the pain. However, it’s still important to talk to your general dentistry for other treatments to get rid of your toothache completely.
According to statistics by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, are the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, even though it is extremely preventable. As mentioned earlier, cavities are due to a high amount of sugar and uncommon foods such as carbohydrates and starches breaking down in our mouths. These sugars and starches cause bacteria to form and lead to the creation of cavities. Bacteria inside your mouth feed leftover sugar and starch and slowly deteriorate the enamel on your teeth. Tooth decay, visible holes, and tooth sensitivity then follow. Cavity treatments include fillings, and also preventative measures. Limiting the amount of sugar intake in your diet, brushing your teeth and getting rid of plaque, and rinsing your mouth after meals can all help prevent cavities.
4. Mouth Sores
Medical problems in dentistry don’t have to include just problems with your teeth. Canker sores or mouth sores are often a common source of distress for many people. Canker and mouth sores are a sort of ulcer that can occur on the inside of the mouth, or under the tongue, or on the gums themselves in some cases. Spicy foods, accidental biting, and even eating sour foods can all signal a problem. It’s always best to consult with your dermatologist if you see sores not just inside your mouth, but surrounding your lips as well. This can indicate problems such as acne, or something more serious such as herpes simplex virus. Whatever the case may be, your dentist might be your first stop when experiencing mouth sores, so tell them about any other symptoms you might be having.
5. Crowded Teeth
Crowded tooth is one of those medical problems in dentistry that are unavoidable. Hyperdontia, or having more teeth than the regular 32 adult teeth, can cause your mouth to be overcrowded. In addition, facial structures such as small jaws can be the cause of this issue as well. In either case, teeth crowding can have serious effects, such as Temporomandibular jaw disorder, or TMJ. TMJ is a disorder caused by the misalignment of your teeth. The only effective treatment for teeth crowding is braces. Contacting your insurance agency can help you look at treatment options that are more cosmetically appealing, such as Invisalign retainers.
6. Impacted Teeth
Impacted teeth are those that end up coming in and growing sideways on your jawline. These impacted teeth are most commonly seen in wisdom teeth, or those back areas of teeth that are sometimes removed. Removing these impacted teeth can be painful, and usually require surgery that takes a couple days to recover from. It’s important to talk to your orthodontist about any issues you are having with impacted teeth, including possible pain and damage they are causing on your soft tissues inside your mouth.
7. Bad Breath
Medical problems in dentistry can also involve the causes of bad breath, or halitosis. Sometimes, the problem (and solution) is as simple as brushing your teeth more often. Other times, infections that continue to linger, added plaque and tartar, and even dry mouth can all cause you to have bad breath. Mouthwash is great to get rid of some plaque and give you a minty-fresh feeling, but it only serves to mask the root of a more serious problem. Talk to your dentist about your problems with bad breath for treatment, tips, and tricks.
Unfortunately, gingivitis is not only painful, but it’s also completely preventable if people would just floss. If you find yourself brushing your teeth, or even attempting to floss but stopping afterward because of bleeding gums, this is a sign of already present gingivitis. Not to worry, however. Though it sounds counter-intuitive, continue to brush and floss in order to get rid of accumulated plaque that is the cause of gingivitis. If you continue to practice poor oral hygiene, not only will you feel the effects of gingivitis, but also tooth loss and periodontists.
A tooth abscess is one of the most common causes of toothaches mentioned above, and also one of the most painful. So painful, in fact, that early science has shown that cavemen actually created aspirin in the form of herbal remedies just to get rid of the pain of an abscess! In addition to being painful, having a tooth abscess can also be dangerous. This can lead to an infection, which is accompanied by redness, swelling, pus, and fevers. Your dentist might be your first line of defense, but visiting a family practice doctor is also a good idea if you notice any of the above symptoms. Anti-biotics might be needed to cure your abscess. Even a hospital or emergency room will take you in for an abscess, as it is considered one of the more serious medical problems in dentistry.
10. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is one of those medical problems in dentistry that is even more serious than an abscess, and can indeed prove deadly. Luckily, like all forms of cancer, when caught early, proper treatment ranging from surgery to medication and chemotherapy can all help to fight oral cancer. Symptoms can include A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal, a white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth, lumps inside of your mouth, and difficulty swallowing. Though sometimes oral cancer is unavoidable and part of a genetic predisposition, certain risk factors can definitely be prevented. Avoiding smoking, chewing tobacco, protecting yourself from viruses like HPV, and living a healthy lifestyle can all help in preventing oral cancer.
In addition to more serious problems such as the above mentioned oral cancer, one of the most notorious smoking causes is the staining of teeth. In addition to smoking, drinking hot coffee, not brushing your teeth properly, and eating certain foods can cause staining on teeth that can take years to remove. Certain teeth whitening treatments involving lasers can help get rid of the staining, but improved oral hygiene is a better option. In addition to brushing daily, cutting back on hot coffee and smoking, brushing twice a day and keeping up with regular dental visits are the best way to make sure your teeth stay looking great.
12. Tooth Loss
As you get older, you might start to notice that in addition to having arthritis treatment, you have to have treatment for tooth loss as well. Losing teeth is not just caused by old age, but also oral care and lifestyle choices. Certain drug use can cause tooth loss. Injury, gum disease, and tooth decay can also cause accelerated tooth loss. It’s important to continue to floss, brush your teeth, and practice good oral hygiene even as you get older. Your dentist can also help you decide on what dentures to use once your tooth loss becomes permanent, and can also give you advice on what foods to avoid as well.
13. Chipped Teeth
Chipped teeth can be caused for many accidental reasons, the primary of which is slip and falls, especially when one is younger. Still, other accidents can cause your teeth to become chipped, such as messing around and accidentally bumping your face. In addition, having weak teeth can also cause your teeth to become more easily chipped. Keep in mind, however, chipped teeth can also be caused accidentally by your dentist themselves, perhaps even during a procedure. In these cases, contacting a medical malpractice lawyer can help you seek compensation to get your tooth looking great again.
14. Grinded Teeth
Grinding down teeth can be a sign of stress, and can lead to headaches and tension within your mouth and jawline. It’s important to be aware of grinding teeth, and do your best to avoid doing so, even at night while you’re falling asleep. Tell your dentist about your teeth grinding, and he might suggest lifestyle changes as well.
15. Crooked Teeth
99.7% of people say that an attractive smile is an important personal asset, but an attractive smile to some people might be different for others. For instance, in Japan, crooked teeth are seen as attractive, and many pop-singers even get surgery to obtain the youthful, innocent crooked smile look. In the U.S., however, a crooked smile might not be so attractive, and could be cause for you to seek the services of cosmetic dentistry. Crooked teeth might not seem like one of the more serious medical problems in dentistry, but it is. Crooked teeth can cause you pain, embarrassment, and even cause you to be unable to properly floss your teeth. Talk to your dentist about braces, Invisalign, or other options to help get your crooked smile straight.
Prevention is Key
By far, the best way to avoid spending thousands of dollars and hours in an uncomfortable dental chair is to practice good oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and keeping up with your dental appointments are all important to help keep your smile bright for a long time.