10 Troublesome Oral Problems You Should Know

The question is what special oral problems should you be aware of as an adult?  The key to keeping a bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood to old age is to practice proper oral hygiene. It’s assumed that we all know the rudiments of proper oral care by now, but even if we brush and floss regularly, we may still face certain oral health problems as an adult.  Find below some nagging oral problems you should be aware of:

1. Bad breath and treatment

Bad breath is unpleasant, distinctive, or offensive. It could be as a result of poor mouth hygiene.  For instance tooth decay, gum disease, food debris on tongue, or plaque, can cause bad breath.   These are problems that a proper, regular brushing, tongue scraping, and flossing can take care of.  In addition is to make it a priority to see the dentist once every six months for check-ups, while a once in 3 months scaling and polishing of your teeth is recommended. Another cause of bad breath is strong spicy foods which though offensive, is only temporary, as a good brushing with minty toothpaste, chewing a minty sugarless gum, or sucking any fresh-breath mints, will remove this bad breath instantly.

Poor diet is another culprit. If your food is consistently of high starchy, sugary type, then you’re likely to suffer from bad breath.  Changing your diet to a nutritionally balanced one can help in removing this problem.

Lastly, internal disorders will produce specific characteristic smell to the breath.  A fruity smell to the breath occurs as the body attempts to push out excess acetone through breathing.  This is a normal sign of ketoacidosis, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.   A faecal smell to the breath, the breath smells like occurs with prolonged vomiting, especially when there is bowel blockage.  Consult your doctor immediately if experiencing this condition.  It can also occur temporarily if the person has a nasogastric tube in place, which is a tube placed through the nose or mouth to the stomach to drain the stomach contents. The breath may also have ammonia like odour, smells urine like or fishy in people with chronic kidney failure. 

Seeing your dentist every six months can help identify diseases in their earliest stages.  It is also important to provide your dentist with a complete medical and dental history and to inform him or her of any recent problems, even if they seem unconnected to your mouth.

2. Gum disease begins as gingivitis, which is reversible in the early stage.  Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush them.  Bad diet, poor oral hygiene, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stress, and smoking are contributing factors to gum disease.  If you notice any of these symptoms consult your dentist immediately.  To prevent gum disease in the first place, be sure to brush twice a day, floss daily, schedule scaling and polishing every three or six months at the latest, and pencil down regular dental checks to ensure early detection and treatment of gum disease.

3. Cavities around existing fillings, referred to as recurrent decay, and decay on the root surfaces of the teeth become more regular as we age.  Hence, it’s important to brush with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and consult your dentist frequently.

4. Sensitivity can be a growing problem as one age.  Your gums naturally recede over time, exposing areas of the tooth that are not protected by enamel.  These areas are particularly prone to pain due to cold or hot foods or beverages.  In severe cases, cold air, as well as sensitivity to sour and sweet drinks and foods can occur.  If you experience sensitivity, try anti-sensitivity toothpaste like Sensodyne toothpaste.  If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5. Crowns are used to strengthen damaged teeth.  A crown entirely covers a damaged tooth.  Apart from strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve the appearance, shape or alignment.  Implants and bridges are used to replace missing ones. Bridges span the space where the teeth are missing and cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space.    Dental implants replace one or more teeth or are used to attach full or partial dentures.  

6. Good nutrition is vital for healthy teeth and gums.  Eating a well-balanced diet gives your gum tissues and teeth the important nutrients and minerals they need to stay strong and resist infections, which can contribute to gum disease.  In addition, firm fibrous foods such as fruits and vegetables tend to help clean the teeth and tissues.

7. Dental problems for older citizens. As you get into senior years, even if you have kept religiously to good dental caring, you may still face certain problems when it comes to oral health. For instance, cavities and decay on the root surfaces of the teeth are more common in older adults, so brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and dentist’s visits must go on. There are also existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer which can affect your oral health.  Let your dentist know of any general health problems you’re facing. Although dentures can make life easier for many seniors, they do need special care.  Follow your dentist’s directives sensibly and see your dentist if any there’s any.  A once a year check-up is endorsed for long-term denture wearers.

Another common problem in old citizens is dry mouth, which may be caused by certain medications or medical disorders.  If left untreated, it can damage your teeth.  Your dentist should be able to recommend different methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as other treatments to help prevent the problems related with dry mouth.

 8. Flossing helps maintain healthy teeth

There are good reasons to floss your teeth everyday which include keeping your teeth, escaping possible effects of periodontal disease such as increased risk of heart disease or stroke, and promoting fresh breath.  Before you overlook the importance of flossing find below some flossing facts that will make you rethink:
  • ·         If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning about 30% of your teeth surfaces.  Frequently periodontal disease begins between teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.
  • ·         Bleeding during flossing is not normal and not okay.  It’s a sign of periodontal disease, so talk with your dentist, hygienist or periodontist.
  • ·         It’s important to start flossing your kid’s teeth when the gaps between them close, to help them get used to the habit.
  • ·         There’s still a debate whether it’s better to floss then brush, or brush then floss.  But then flossing first may loosen plaque, which can then be brushed away with your toothbrush.  I do the latter, which is brush first then floss. So if you’re used to flossing after toothbrush, you don’t have to alter your routine, simply ensure you rinse out properly with water.
And if you need a step-by-step flossing, this is it. Use a piece of floss about 18 inches long.  Run most of the floss around a fore finger, the rest around the other fore finger, leaving enough floss to insert between the teeth using a back and forth motion.  Guide the floss to the gum line and curve the floss into a c-shape.  Slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel light resistance.  Repeat this process between every tooth, not forgetting the teeth located at the back of the mouth.  Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see food particles, as the primary function of dental floss is really to remove the invisible film of bacteria that always forms between the teeth, causing plaque.

9. How to brush the right way

Proper brushing takes at least two minutes.  Most of us don’t come close to brushing for 120 seconds.  Use a stopwatch to get an idea of what 2 minutes is.  For proper brushing, use short, tender strokes, concentrating on the gumline, difficult-to-reach back teeth, and areas around fillings, crowns or other areas worked on.  The procedure below will ensure you do proper brushing:
·         Clean the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth.  Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline.
·         Clean the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth, using short back and forth strokes.
·         Clean the chewing surfaces.
·         Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
·         Run the brush through your gums including roof of your mouth

10. And if you want a whiter set of teeth

Ensuring you have scaling and polishing once every three or six months by a dentist will remove most external stains caused by food, tobacco, coffee or tea.   Whitening toothpaste may also help remove these surface stains between the teeth, or you may decide to have your teeth professionally whitened to remove the more stubborn external stains.  As regards internal stains, these can be bleached, bonded or crowned.  Your dentist should be able to recommend suitable treatment depending on the state of your teeth and expectations.

Tooth bleaching is one of the options for getting a bright smile.  The desire for a brighter smile with whiter teeth is very strong, and tooth bleaching safely lightens the colour of the teeth, lasting for five years. There are many reasons for wanting whiter teeth, whatever the reasons; tooth bleaching is no more the exclusive privilege of the celebrities.  Many people have had their teeth bleached and probably more are thinking about it.  If you’ve been nursing the idea for some time, here are a few questions you’ve always want answered.

Is bleaching for you? The most effective and safest method of tooth bleaching is dentist supervised, and generally bleaching is successful in at least 90% of patients.  Tooth bleaching may not be an option for everyone and only consider it if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking.  Teeth darkened with the colour yellow, brown or orange respond better to bleaching.  Other types of grey stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline are lightened, but results are not as astounding.  If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.

What is involved and how long does it last? The dentist will first of all evaluate your candidacy for tooth bleaching and what type of bleaching process would give the best results.  If you are in a hurry for whiter teeth, you may decide to have your teeth lightened immediately.  Your dentist will use either an in-office bleaching process or laser bleaching while you sit in the dentist chair, or you may decide to try at-home bleaching pack, which is cheaper and provides the same results, but bit of a bother.

Lightness of stain should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking and drinking coffee and tea.  At this point you may choose to get a touch up.  The treatment time is also much shorter than the original treatment time.

Is it safe?  Any side effects? Several studies, in the past years proved bleaching to be safe and effective, though some patients may experience slight gum irritation or tooth sensitivity, which goes away after the treatment.  Another anxiety is that bleaching may weaken the teeth, but not enough data to support this.

What are realistic expectations? It’s difficult to guess how much lighter your teeth will become.  Every case is different.  Typically, there is a two-shade improvement as seen on a dentists shade guide.  The success rate depends on the type of stain you have.  For instance, bleaching can only provide a shift in colour from grey to a lighter shade of grey.   Also don’t expect bleaching to lighten the artificial materials used in fillings or crowns.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons.


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