The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which is the only stage that is reversible. If not treated, gingivitis may lead to a more serious, destructive form of gum/periodontal disease called periodontitis. It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are so important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brush twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Did you know that the average adult between the ages of 20 and 64 has three or more decayed or missing teeth? If you are missing one or more teeth, there are plenty of reasons to correct the problem. For one thing, a large space between your teeth may affect how you speak or eat. Even if it’s not noticeable, a missing molar can affect how you chew. Remaining teeth may shift and in some cases, bone loss can occur around a missing tooth. With today’s advances, you don’t have to suffer from missing teeth.
Here are some options to replace a lost tooth or teeth. Talk to your dentist about which option is best for you:
- Bridges. Anchored to your adjacent teeth, these can be removable or fixed, depending on your mouth, your dentist’s recommendation and your needs.
- Dentures. An option if you’ve lost all or most of your teeth.
- Implants. Most similar to a natural tooth.
If hot or cold foods make you wince, you may have a common dental problem—sensitive teeth. Sensitivity in your teeth can happen for several reasons, including:
- tooth decay (cavities)
- fractured teeth
- worn fillings
- gum disease
- worn tooth enamel
- exposed tooth root
Sensitive teeth can be treated. Your dentist may recommend desensitizing toothpaste or an alternative treatment based on the cause of your sensitivity. Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.
Everyone’s mouth can be dry sometimes, but if you feel like your mouth is always dry, it may be time to seek treatment. Medications and certain health conditions can lead to dry mouth. A dentist will check your teeth for signs of decay that can result from decreased salivary flow. A physician will test for any underlying disease or conditions that may be causing your dry mouth. Having a dry mouth is not itself serious but taking care of your teeth and gums and regular dental visits are important when living with dry mouth. Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems become more common. Patients using oral inhalers for asthma often develop oral candidiasis, an oral fungal infection, and are encouraged to rinse their mouths with water after using the inhaler. Tell your dentist what medications you are taking and any other information about your health that may help identify the cause of your dry mouth.
Ororpharyngeal cancer can affect any area of the oropharyngeal cavity including the lips, gum tissue, check lining, tongue, jaw the hard or soft palate and throat. It often starts as a tiny, unnoticed white or red spot or sore or swelling anywhere in the mouth or throat.
During your dental visit, your dentist can talk to you about your health history and examine these areas for signs of mouth and/or throat cancer. Regular visits to your dentist can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily.
The symptoms of mouth or throat cancer can include:
- sores that bleed easily or do not heal
- a thick or hard spot or lump
- a roughened or crusted area
- numbness, pain or tenderness
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.
Make sure to tell your dentist about any problems you have when chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw. Regular dental check-ups, including an examination of the entire mouth, are essential in the early detection of cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.