Tooth decay leads to cavities, or holes in teeth. MedicineNet.com lays the blame for cavities on bacteria and eating foods high in sugar and starch. Bacteria, it states, joins up with food and saliva to cause plaque. The plaque becomes hard on the tooth and turns sugar into acid that dissolves it. The cavity starts in the tooth’s outer layer, called the enamel, then goes deeper, until it gets to the softer inner layer and causes pain and other symptoms.
WebMD offers tips on how to prevent decay, including:
- Brush your teeth twice daily
- Use dental floss or interdental cleaners
- Eat nutritious meals and avoid foods high in carbohydrates like candy, pretzels and chips
- Drink water with fluoride
- Get regular cleanings and exams from your dentist
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that is actually inflammation of your gums. If untreated it can lead to periodontitis, a more serious gum disease.
Bacteria causes gingivitis, which can damage the gums, bones and ligaments around the teeth. There are various risk factors, including poor oral hygiene, smoking and diabetes. Unchecked, it can become the more severe periodontitis, which causes the gum’s inner layer to pull away from the teeth and lead to infection. Tooth loss may eventually result.
Talk to your dentist about how you can prevent and treat gum disease before it gets worse.
Receding gum tissue, according to WebMD, can expose the underlying layer of your teeth and leave the roots exposed. There are channels in the roots that lead to the pulp, the tooth’s nerve section. Extreme stimulus like hot liquids, cold ice and sweet food can reach that nervous section and cause pain.
Receding gums and gum disease as well as tooth decay near the gums can lead to sensitive teeth. So can grinding your teeth and having chipped or broken teeth. Other factors include using teeth-whitening products and some mouthwashes and eating foods high in acid like citrus fruits, pickles and tomatoes. Routine dental procedures can cause temporary sensitivity.
Keep your teeth clean, see your dentist regularly and be careful what foods you eat to avoid sensitive teeth. There are also brands of toothpaste that can help make teeth less sensitive. And wear a night guard to avoid grinding your teeth.
Bacteria can also lead to bad breath. Smoking and drinking alcohol can make this worse, as can certain medications. Dry mouth can also contribute, according to Medicinenet.com, while sinus infections can also play a part.
But often it comes right back to taking good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth and floss regularly. See your dentist and avoid using tobacco, including smokeless tobacco.
Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth. It happens on the lips or the tongue and may also affect the cheek lining, floor of the mouth, the gums and the roof of the mouth, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Health. The biggest cause is smoking and other tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco. Heavy drinking may also be a contributing factor. Other factors include chronic irritation, a human papilloma virus infection, medications that weaken the immune system and poor dental hygiene.
WebMD states that a family history of cancer and excessive exposure to sun can also be factors.
A dentist screens for oral cancer when you get an exam. That usually means feeling for lumps or other abnormalities like discolored tissue or sores in your neck, head, face and oral cavity.
Good oral hygiene helps prevent the majority of dental problems. Regular visits to your dentist also play an important part.