Teeth are made of strong stuff. They're highly durable and able to bite through tough foods. But they're not indestructible—teeth are vulnerable to problems such as cavities, decay, and gum disease, which can cause major oral health problems if left untreated. In order to prevent these problems from affecting your own oral health, it’s important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine and see your dentist regularly for preventative dental care.
Common Dental issues
Tooth damage such as chips, cracks, and fractures often seem insignificant, but over time those small fissures can get bigger and cause the tooth to break. If your tooth is damaged in some way it’s much better to have it restored by a dentist to contain the damage and protect the tooth.
Cavities are caused by oral bacteria activity. Many species of oral bacteria feed on carbohydrates and deposit a sticky metabolic product called plaque onto the surface of teeth. Plaque is a highly acidic substance that can break down tooth enamel, creating tiny holes in the enamel of the teeth. Over time, these holes become larger and form cavities.
The best way to prevent cavities is with twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. It’s also important to visit your dentist regularly for preventative care and exams to ensure your teeth stay in good shape, and problems such as cavities can be treated as soon as possible.
Cavities aren’t the only issue caused by bacterial plaque: gingivitis, also known as the first stage of gum disease, is another culprit to poor oral health. When plaque isn’t removed by brushing it hardens over the course of several days and turns into tartar, which can’t be removed by brushing. Bacteria that live in tartar can colonize the gums below the gum line, creating open pockets of infection that can spread to teeth as well as gums. Ultimately, gingivitis can break down connective tissue that supports the teeth, causing tooth loss.
Brushing, flossing, and regular professional dental care are the best way to prevent symptoms of gum disease from becoming a problem.
When tooth decay advances to the point where it reaches the pulp of a tooth, the central soft tissue where the nerve is located, the only way to save the tooth is with a root canal procedure. Sometimes, a root canal isn’t possible. When this is the case, removal of the tooth is the only option. In some cases the bone underlying the decaying tooth can become infected, causing an abscess.
Misalignment and bite problems
These issues develop when teeth grow in crookedly or in the wrong place, or if they drift out of alignment over time. Tooth misalignment and bite problems increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease and can contribute to uneven wear and tear on the teeth. Ultimately, there’s an increased risk of tooth loss, too.
Problems with tooth alignment and bite can be addressed with orthodontic treatments, such as braces and aligner trays.
Keep These Common Dental Issues at Bay
All of these dental issues are very common, but all are preventable or relatively easy to treat. With daily brushing and flossing and good dental care, you can ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy and functional for life.