While dentists see a range of dental problems, some are more common than others.  Many common oral health problems can be prevented, to some degree.  The first sign of any dental problem is usually pain, if you’re experiencing a toothache, chances are it is caused by one of these:

Cavities usually form in the areas between your teeth and on the backs of your teeth, where brushing and flossing may miss.  When tiny food particles are left behind, the bacteria in your mouth feed on them, and produce a corrosive substance.  Eventually this area will become painful and require filling by a dentist.

Gum disease is another common problem.  Symptoms of gum disease include red, puffy gums, pain, and bleeding gums.  A mild case is referred to as “gingivitis” and more serious gum disease is called “periodontitis”.   In addition to causing cavities, bacteria also cause gum disease.  The same corrosive substance irritates your gums.

A white, sticky film called “plaque” forms on your teeth, and plaque at or near the gum-line is often difficult to remove by brushing.  Plaque which remains on your teeth can harden into tartar, and begin to affect the bones of your mouth.  Without the gums and bones to hold them in place, your teeth will become loose.

Erosion.   Although the enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance is your body, it can be eroded or dissolved by acid and by grinding.  Carbonated sodas contain acid, as do citrus fruits and juices.  Certain foods, like tomatoes, are highly acidic.  If you drink a lot of sodas or eat a lot of acidic foods, protect your enamel by rinsing with water afterward.  Tooth grinding and brushing too hard or too frequently can also wear down the enamel on your teeth.  Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and wait 30 minutes after rinsing to brush your teeth after eating or drinking acidic food.

Tooth sensitivity causes many people to make an appointment with their dentist.  Typically, individuals notice pain when their teeth are exposed to food or liquid which is hot, cold, or sugary.  Although some people have healthy teeth which have always been sensitive, a sudden sensitivity to hot, cold, or sugar can indicate a more serious problem

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, begin to erupt at age 17 or 18.  Often, the jaws do not have adequate room for these teeth, so their arrival causes pain.  Sometimes, third molars erupt through the side of the gum, or their roots become wrapped around surrounding structures.

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, causes headaches, jaw pain, and can wear down the tooth’s enamel.  If it becomes chronic, teeth can be loosened or even broken.  The most common causes of tooth grinding are a misaligned bite and stress.

Using a toothbrush and toothpaste with the ADA seal can reduce or prevent cavities and gum disease.  X-rays can detect small cavities and wisdom teeth eruption.  Having regular dental exams and cleanings is essential to remove plaque and tarter, and to discuss any concerns such as pain, sensitivity, or erosion with your dentist and hygienist.  Schedule one today!