Dental problems can cause unnecessary pain and stress, which is why maintaining good oral health is so essential. Dental issues more often arise when you are not practicing proper oral care, but some oral conditions can sneak up on even the most diligent of tooth brushers and flossers.

These five common dental problems are the most likely to occur in your lifetime, so knowing the signs and symptoms of them can help identify and treat these annoying conditions before they get worse. By keeping a close eye on your oral health, you can best prepare to take quick action and protect your healthy smile.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth. When the bacteria is left to populate by not brushing your teeth, it can lead to more intense problems like cavities. Because tooth decay is an issue that worsens gradually, you may not even notice you have it until more painful symptoms start to appear. In fact, according to the American Dental Association, one in four adults in the United States has an untreated cavity.

As the harmful bacteria grow in abundance in the mouth, they produce acids that cause wear to the enamel of the teeth. Eventually, the acids eat through the enamel and cause damage to the tooth. Signs of tooth decay include increased sensitivity, pain, and dark or white spots on the teeth. To treat a cavity related to tooth decay, your dentist must remove the decayed areas of the tooth and fill them with a composite filling to protect your tooth’s structure.

Gum Disease

Another common condition plaguing smiles all over the world is gum disease. Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection that forms when untreated plaque accumulations near the gum line. This condition is also gradual and sometimes goes unnoticed for a long time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 46% of all adults over 30 have gum disease.

Signs of gum disease include bleeding when brushing or flossing, swelling, discomfort, and foul breath. Gum disease can be reversed in its earliest stage, called gingivitis, but more extensive treatment may be needed if the disease has progressed further along. Treatments to manage gum disease include regular cleanings and a deep cleaning called scaling and planing. In some cases, surgery becomes necessary to prevent tooth loss.

Root Infection

Root infections occur as bacteria invade the teeth and begin to populate the root portion. This damage made to the root of the tooth can be caused by gum disease or injury as well. These infections can lead to pulp and root damage and can often cause a painful abscess. If not treated properly, a root infection can even lead to tooth loss.

Common symptoms of root infections include intense pain, redness, swelling, pus drainage at the base of the affected tooth, and jaw swelling. The most effective treatments are root canals or tooth removal.

Tooth Erosion

The enamel plays an essential role in protecting your teeth. Your enamel provides a strong barrier on the outside of the tooth to protect against invaders like bacteria and acid that can lead to cavities and infections. When acids produced by bacteria sit on the teeth for too long, they can cause tooth erosion.

Tooth erosion can cause increased sensitivity as the acids wear away the enamel and cause nerve exposure. Mild cases of tooth erosion are typically manageable with fluoride treatments, but more severe cases of erosion may require bonding treatments to encase the nerves and diminish sensitivity.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most dangerous threats to the mouth. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year alone.

Recognizing the signs of oral cancer is critical to diagnosing and treating this disease. Symptoms may include pinkish or white lumps that do not heal. In the beginning, these growths are painless, but as they grow larger, they can begin to cause discomfort. Heavy drinkers and smokers are more likely to develop oral cancers.

See Your Dentist Often

Many oral health concerns can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. These conditions are most easily treated with early intervention. You should work with your dentist as a team by brushing and flossing twice daily to keep cavities and gum disease at bay, and making sure to visit you dentist twice a year to protect your smile.

Schedule a Consultation

If you think you may be suffering from one of these common oral health issues, Schedule a consultation at Locust Valley Dentists to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Patients in the Queens, NY, and Long Island, NY, areas should fill out our online contact form to get in touch. We look forward to making your smile healthy again!