At Davis Dental, we know that every patient and every mouth is unique, and we pride ourselves on creating optimal treatment plans for each person we see. However, when it comes to dental health, there are several common issues that we see most often. Understanding these issues, their causes, symptoms, and consequences of neglecting them is essential for maintaining good oral health. In this blog, we’ll review these common dental problems so our patients are fully informed about their oral health.

Tooth Decay and Cavities

Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent dental problems worldwide. It occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack the tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities, which are holes or pits in the teeth. Symptoms include toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold foods, and visible holes or pits in the teeth.

Treatment usually involves filling the cavity with a dental filling material like amalgam or composite resin, but there are other options depending on the severity of decay. Treatments for cavities ranges from the aforementioned fillings for minor cases to more comprehensive interventions like crowns or root canals for advanced decay.

Preventative measures are particularly important to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Key strategies include limiting sugary foods and beverages, which fuel the bacteria that cause decay. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can help reinforcing enamel strength, and regular flossing is also critical to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth, where decay frequently starts.

Gingivitis, A Common Gum Issue

Gingivitis is a common form of gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums. It is caused by plaque buildup along the gumline due to poor oral hygiene practices. Symptoms include red, swollen gums that may bleed easily during brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and lead to tooth loss.

The key to managing gingivitis is to address it early, which typically involves a professional cleaning at Davis Dental to remove stubborn plaque and tartar. Following this, patients should follow a regular oral hygiene regimen, which includes twice daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash to keep plaque from forming. These practices not only help in reversing gingivitis but also play a crucial role in preventing its recurrence.

Certain lifestyle adjustments can also make a big difference, such as quitting smoking and managing diabetes, as these conditions can heighten the risk of gum diseases. Keeping up with your regular dental visits for check-ups and cleanings is imperative to allow the team at Davis Dental to monitor the health of gums and to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of your oral hygiene practices in the fight against gingivitis.

Tooth Sensitivity—When Eating Becomes Painful

Tooth sensitivity refers to discomfort or pain when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages due to exposed dentin (the inner layer of the tooth). Causes include enamel erosion from acidic foods/drinks or aggressive brushing habits that wear down enamel over time.

The team at Davis Dental uses a variety of treatments to alleviate tooth sensitivity, depending on how severe the problem is. We may recommend switching to a desensitizing toothpaste, which is specifically formulated to block the pain associated with sensitivity, offering relief with regular use. Fluoride treatments administered in our office can strengthen enamel and reduce pain. In situations where underlying conditions contribute to sensitivity, more involved procedures to correct these issues may be necessary, such as fillings or gum grafts.

Avoiding tooth sensitivity starts with some simple preventative measures. Regular oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing, are fundamental in preventing the decay and gum problems that often underlie sensitivity issues, and brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush can minimize enamel wear and gum damage. Avoiding highly acidic foods and beverages can also preserve enamel integrity. By adopting these preventive strategies, patients can lessen the risk of developing tooth sensitivity and maintain a comfortable, healthy smile.

Halitosis—Chronic Bad Breath

Halitosis is a common issue characterized by persistent bad breath that can be embarrassing and affect one’s confidence. Causes of bad breath include poor oral hygiene, dry mouth (xerostomia), gum disease, smoking/tobacco use, certain foods and medications, or underlying medical conditions like sinus infections or diabetes.

Addressing halitosis effectively requires a comprehensive approach. A visit to Davis Dental for a thorough examination can help pinpoint the exact cause, whether it be poor oral hygiene leading to gum disease or untreated dental decay. Some at-home strategies to combat bad breath include careful brushing and flossing to remove food debris and plaque, cleaning the tongue regularly with a brush or scraper to eliminate bacteria, and staying properly hydrated since saliva helps clean the mouth naturally. In cases where halitosis is linked to dental issues like cavities or gum disease, further treatment may be necessary to resolve the problem.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth occurs when there is a decreased flow of saliva in the mouth due to various factors such as medications like antihistamines or certain medical conditions (e.g., Sjögren’s syndrome), as well as dehydration or stress/anxiety. Symptoms may include difficulty swallowing or digesting food, dry throat, lips, or tongue; mouth sores; or a burning sensation in the mouth, throat, or tongue.

The lack of sufficient saliva can have several negative effects on oral health, including:

Increased Risk of Cavities: Without enough saliva, bacteria can thrive in the mouth, leading to a higher risk of cavities.

Difficulty in Eating and Speaking: A dry mouth can make it difficult to chew food properly or speak clearly.

Persistent Bad Breath: Reduced saliva production can result in a buildup of bacteria, leading to bad breath.

There are several treatment options to alleviate dry mouth. Staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day or using artificial saliva sprays or rinses can help keep your mouth moist. Avoiding caffeinated beverages like coffee or tea, which decrease moisture in the body, can help treat dry mouth. And quitting smoking or using tobacco products can also make a difference in this issue.

Remember, while these tips can offer temporary relief, it’s crucial to consult with the dental professionals at Davis Dental to address the underlying cause of your dry mouth condition. They may recommend specific treatments or adjustments to your medications that can help manage your symptoms more effectively.

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

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