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Common Problems

Lady smiling

One of the most important things that can help you maintain a healthy smile, besides a great oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist, is being informed about the different oral health problems that could develop and put your smile at risk. Once you have an understanding of the most common oral health problems and what causes them, you can make the necessary adjustments in your oral health care to counteract them, ensure that you smile lasts for years to come. To make sure that taking care of your smile and keeping it health is as easy as possible, your local San Antonio, TX dental experts here at the dental office of Tom B. Styles DDS has put together this guide on the most common dental health problems, including their causes and how they can be treated.

Tooth Decay

The most common dental problem out there is definitely tooth decay mainly because it doesn’t take much for decay to start eating away your smile, and is the starting point for many other more serious oral health issues. Tooth decay is caused by food particles from the things that you eat and drink, combining with the natural bacteria in your mouth to form larger collections of bacteria known as plaque. Once plaque forms, it starts breaking down food deposits to form acid, which will slowly strip away the essential minerals from your teeth and weaken your tooth enamel. Over time, bits of your tooth enamel will start to disappear completely as they break down, forming small pits which are known as cavities or caries.

The good news is that tooth decay is entirely preventable. All it takes is for you to maintain a consistent and thorough oral hygiene routine, complete with brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Also, you should visit Dr. Styles for a professional dental cleaning at least once every six months to clear away any plaque buildup that you may have missed in hard to reach areas of your smile, or below the gum line.

Sensitive Teeth

Your teeth are living parts of your body, and when they experience a change in temperature, they expand or contract as a natural reaction. Unfortunately, rapid changes in temperature or exposure to extreme temperatures, such as coming into contact with extremely hot or cold foods or beverage, can damage your smile over time. If your teeth expand and contract on a regular basis due to what you're eating, your gums may start to recede, the tooth enamel can become worn down, and some patients may develop microscopic cracks in the enamel that expose the sensitive nerve endings of the tooth.

Treatments for sensitive teeth include using fillings or sealants to fill in any cracks or restore areas of lost enamel to protect the sensitive nerves and tissue that make up the inner layers of the tooth. You can also use special toothpaste that is designed for those with sensitive teeth, which contain ingredients that can soothe exposed or irritated nerves and tissue.

Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is the buildup of plaque in the area between the teeth and the gums underneath the gum line, which can lead to various oral health issues in advancing stages. The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, and is characterized by gums that are red, swollen, and bleed easily when brushing, flossing, or during a dental cleaning. In this stage, gingivitis can be treated and reversed simply through a thorough dental cleaning to clear away the plaque buildup beneath the gums.

The second, more advanced stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis, while only occurs if gingivitis goes untreated for a period of time. At this stage, the plaque has started to affect deeper levels of your smile, resulting in bone loss in the jaw, gum recession, and tooth loss. While some cases of periodontitis can be treated with a professional dental cleaning, more advanced cases may require surgery to restore necessary structure to the smile and prevent further damage.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

The most common cause of bad breath is the buildup of food particles, bacteria, and plaque in your mouth. As that food starts to break down, it gives off an odor, which will be carried into the air as you breathe out. In some cases, bad breath can be caused by the strong odors of certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies. Halitosis can also be a side effect of gum disease, due to the presence of plaque under the gums that can still give off an odor. Most cases of bad breath can be treated simply by keep your mouth clean, with a great brushing, flossing, and rinsing routine each day.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are small sores that appear inside the mouth, appearing as a small white or gray circle surrounded by a red border. The causes of canker sores can vary, from fluctuation in hormones, allergic reactions to various chemicals or foods, vitamin deficiencies, injuries, and more. While canker sores will typically go away on their own over the course of one to two weeks, at-home treatments such as using an antimicrobial mouthwash or a topical agent can help soothe sores and make them go away sooner.

Orthodontic Problems

Someone having a naturally perfect smile is extremely rare, with most people developing some sort of misalignment in their smile when their jaw and adult teeth develop at a young age. While the causes for these misalignments can vary, but the effects are the same, as the “bad bites” can lead to difficulty maintain good oral hygiene and result in increased risk of tooth decay or other oral health issues. Most misaligned jaws or teeth can be corrected using orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign clear aligners.

Schedule Your Appointment Today!

To protect your smile from all these common oral health problems, come to the dental office of Dr. Tom B. Styles, DDS. We provide comprehensive general and cosmetic dental care for patients of all ages out of our local office here in San Antonio, creating personalized treatment plans for each one of our patients to ensure we provide the most effective and efficient care possible. If you have any questions about the dental care that we offer, or if you’re looking to schedule an appointment with us, just contact us and a member of our staff will be happy to help you with everything you need. We look forward to seeing you in our office soon!