Regular dental care is an important component of overall good health. Problems with the teeth and gums can lead to digestive difficulties and may even affect cardiovascular health. Below are some of the most common dental problems and ways that they can be treated or prevented.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in the 6-to-19-year-old age group, and adults suffer from tooth decay as well. The best approach to tooth decay is prevention. This includes brushing and flossing regularly, fluoride and eating nutritious food. When tooth decay is already underway, a dentist can stop it with a filling or a crown.
If a tooth is cracked or a cavity persists until it is very deep, there is a potential for infection in the pulp or the root canal. A root canal involves cleaning out the infected area, filling it, and possibly sealing the tooth with a crown. If the infection is particularly bad, extraction may be necessary. Dentures, dental implants or bridges may replace extracted teeth.
Medication, smoking and certain diseases can lead to a dry mouth, and this can be a particular problem among older adults. The problem with dry mouth is that saliva inhibits the growth of bacteria, so when a person’s mouth is dry, there is a greater chance of tooth decay, infection, gum disease and other problems. Chewing gum or sipping water may help. There are also over-the-counter as well as prescription products that stimulate saliva production.
Gum disease is a bacterial infection. It progresses through several stages over a number of years, and in the early stages, it can be stopped or even reversed through regular cleanings. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritating the gums is also important. Antibiotics and surgery can be used to treat gum disease if it continues to progress.
Erosion of Enamel
Drinks such as colas as well as wine, orange juice and sugary candies can erode the enamel on teeth. Avoiding these types of substances or using a straw to drink them and rinsing shortly after consuming them can help prevent this erosion as can brushing with soft bristles. Erosion can be treated with bonding by a dentist.
Most severe dental problems can be avoided through good dental hygiene. However, cavities and other problems may develop despite this regular care. Checkups and cleanings twice a year will help ensure that the problems are caught and treated early and do not have time to worsen.