Common Dental Problems People Should be Aware Of

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Dental problems are the most common yet the most ignored problems that people encounter. Admit it or not, most of us only go to the dentist when we're already experiencing pain and abnormalities in our oral health. Dental problems are never fun, but the good thing is that most of it can be easily prevented. With good oral hygiene and good dental habits, the potential threats and problems can be avoided. Here is a list of the most common ignored dental problems- how each are diagnosed, their causes and their treatment. 

1. Xerostomia


Dry mouth, or xerostomia, refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth don't make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Dry mouth is often due to the side effect of certain medications or aging issues or as a result of radiation therapy for cancer. Less often, dry mouth may be caused by a condition that directly affects the salivary glands.

Symptoms

If you're not producing enough saliva, you may notice these signs and symptoms all or most of the time:
Dryness or a feeling of stickiness in your mouth
Saliva that seems thick and stringy
Bad breath
Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
Dry or sore throat and hoarseness
Dry or grooved tongue
A changed sense of taste
Problems wearing dentures

Causes

Medications. Hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications.
Aging. Many older people experience dry mouth as they age. Contributing factors include the use of certain medications, changes in the body's ability to process medication, inadequate nutrition, and having long-term health problems.
Cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. This may be temporary, with normal salivary flow returning after treatment is completed. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. This may be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and area treated.
Nerve damage. An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
Other health conditions. Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer's disease, or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
Tobacco and alcohol use. Drinking alcohol and smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
Recreational drug use. Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also known as "meth mouth." Marijuana also can cause dry mouth.

Treatment

Treatment for dry mouth depends on several factors such as whether the patient has an underlying condition or disease, or is taking certain medications that may be causing dry mouth.
If an underlying cause is found, steps need to be taken to minimize its effect.

• Medications: If the dry mouth is thought to be caused by a particular medication, the doctor will either alter the dosage or prescribe another drug which is less likely to cause dry mouth.
• Stimulating saliva production: Medication may be prescribed to stimulate the production of saliva, such as pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac).

2. Tooth Decay/ Cavity


Tooth decay is the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time the enamel can break down.

What Causes Halitosis?
If quick bad breath fixes are only covering up the problem for a short time, something else may be happening in your body, including: 

Dental Issues: Cavities and deeper pockets from gum disease give bad breath bacteria extra places to hide in your mouth that are difficult to clear out when youre brushing or cleaning between your teeth. Either can contribute to halitosis.

Mouth, Nose and Throat Infections: According to the Mayo Clinic, nose, sinus and throat issues that can lead to postnasal drip may also contribute to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on mucus your body produces when its battling something like a sinus infection, leaving you sniffly and stinky.

Dry mouth: Saliva goes a long way for your dental health and your breath. It rinses and removes unwanted leftovers from your mouth, helps break down food when you eat and provides disease-fighting substances to help prevent cavities and infections. If you dont make enough saliva, one sign may be halitosis. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, certain medical conditions, alcohol use, tobacco use or excessive caffeine. 

Smoking and tobacco: Tobacco products wreak havoc on your body and your breath. Not only do many tobacco products leave their own odor on your breath; they can also dry out your mouth. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease, which can also add to halitosis. 

Other chronic conditions: While halitosis is most often linked to something happening in your mouth, it may also be a sign of gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. 

Treatment

You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:
• Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
• Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner.
• Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
• Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about use of dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (where decay often starts) to protect them from decay.
• Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination. 

3. Sore Gums


You're brushing or flossing and notice a painful sensation in your gums. Sometimes your sore gums may even start bleeding while you're brushing or flossing. Since the pain from sore gums isn’t usually very severe and is such a common problem, many people don’t pay much attention to sore gums. But sore gums could be an early sign of gum disease. Fortunately, addressing sore gums isn’t usually very difficult, especially if you catch it during the early stages of gum disease.

Sore gums or gums that are swollen or bleeding are most often linked to gum disease. There are two stages of gum disease, both of which may cause sore gums.

· Gingivitis: This is the early and mildest form of gum disease; sore gums are often one of the first signs that you may be suffering from gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more serious gum disease.

· Periodontitis: Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease with more serious implications, such as possible tooth loss and other health problems.

Sore Gums Relief and Treatment.
Since many causes of sensitive gums are tied to oral hygiene, the tips below are the best place to start:
· Brush at least twice a day
· Use a soft-bristle toothbrush
· Floss at least once per day
· See your dentist regularly

How to Prevent Inflamed Gums
The main thing you can do to avoid this condition is prevent the buildup of plaque by thorough teeth brushing twice a day and flossing once a day before bedtime. You can also use an antimicrobial mouthwash. Even if you regularly practice good oral care, some plaque may harden and form a rough deposit called tartar, which can be removed only by a professional cleaning conducted by the dental hygienist at a dental or specialty practice. Regular visits to your dentist are important because he can check for signs of inflamed gums and make recommendations to put you on the right track to a healthy mouth. In addition to keeping your teeth clean, avoid tobacco and follow a healthy diet.

Take good care of your oral health before it's too late! :) 
Always remember that a beautiful smile starts with a healthy teeth. :) 

Your future dentists,
Lyzel Arciaga, Shaira Manalo, Joan Papasin, Claire Parto and Justine Tan
DDM IIIA


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