Dental problems always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. This blog aims to teach you what you need to know about common dental problems and what you should do when they occur.
Common Dental Problems
- Toothaches – Toothaches are the most common dental problem occurring in adults. They typically arise from large cavities that spread until they reach the nerve inside the tooth. Most toothaches involve a bacterial infection and require dental work to fix the problem. Toothaches can also result from gum infections, impacted wisdom teeth, and cracked teeth.
- Broken tooth – Teeth break when they receive a strong force, such as in an accident or injury. They can also break if they have been weakened by a large cavity. Some people break a tooth by biting into something abnormally hard. If a large piece of your tooth breaks, keep the piece, if possible. Losing a portion of a tooth will usually cause tooth sensitivity, if not full-blown pain.
- Tooth knocked out – Having a tooth knocked out is a very traumatic experience! If a tooth becomes dislodged, root and all, you must act fast. This usually only happens on a front tooth and causes lots of bleeding. Be ready to delegate someone to call the emergency dentist and someone to search for the tooth!
- Cut lip, cheek or tongue – If you have an accident or injury that results in a large cut in your lip, cheek or tongue, you will have trouble seeing the extent of the wound due to the bleeding. Most likely, you will need to see a doctor or dentist as soon as possible to determine the need for stitches. Cuts on the outer portion of lips can lead to scarring.
- Canker sores – Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are common ulcers experienced by many adults. The cause of canker sores is unknown. They do occur more frequently during illness, times of stress, or just after an injury to the lips, cheeks or tongue. They are whitish in color and very painful for their duration. Minor aphthous ulcers last 7-10 days and are relatively small. Major aphthous ulcers can last over a month and be over a centimeter in diameter.
- Fever blisters – A virus causes fever blisters and cold sores. They develop in a cluster of small pimple-like blisters, which then burst to form many tiny ulcers. Most people experience these on the outer portion of their lips. They can occur inside the mouth as well. They also happen more frequently during times of stress or illness, which is why people have historically used the words “fever” and “cold” to describe them.
- Food or foreign object stuck between teeth – Popcorn kernels, tiny tortilla chip shards, and wooden toothpick splinters are the most common culprits for this type of dental problem. These small pieces can become wedged between the teeth or underneath the gums. They result in localized tenderness and swelling in the gums; they may also cause the gums to bleed very easily.
How to Handle Them
- Toothaches – A severe toothache requires a visit to your dentist or an emergency dentist. Toothaches that are infected need antibiotic prescriptions in order to begin fighting the infection. In order to get a prescription for an antibiotic, you must see a dentist or doctor in person. If you have any swelling in your mouth or face, go to the emergency room. Tooth infections can spread to some dangerous places, including your brain, your airway, and your bloodstream.
- Broken tooth – If you have broken or chipped a tooth, try to retrieve the broken piece. For broken or chipped front teeth, often your dentist is able to bond the broken piece back onto the tooth. A small break or chip that does not cause any pain or sensitivity is not an emergency, and you can schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible. A large break, which causes pain or exposes the nerve inside the tooth, must be dealt with ASAP.
- Tooth knocked out – Call the nearest dentist as soon as possible! You must act quickly in cases like this. Find the tooth and store it in a cup of milk, a cup of saliva, or hold it inside your own mouth. Do not attempt to wash or clean the tooth because you can damage the tiny fibers that will allow it to reattach to your jawbone and gums. If you can, you can even reinsert it into the root socket yourself. The emergency dentist will take an x-ray to confirm that there are no fractures in the root or jawbone, and place a splint to hold the tooth in place in your mouth, allowing it to heal over a period of 2-3 weeks.
- Cut lip, cheek or tongue – In cases of large cuts, also called lacerations, the first step is to control the bleeding so that you can see the extent of the cut. If you cannot get it to stop bleeding in 15 minutes, go immediately to the ER. If the cut extends onto the outer portion of the lip, you will need stitches to reduce the extent of any scarring.
- Canker sores – Once a canker sore starts, it cannot be “cured”. Any treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while it slowly resolves itself. Your dentist can prescribe a mouthwash that will soothe the pain of an ulcer. You can use ice to ease some of the pain. You should avoid very spicy foods, very hot food and beverages, and extremely acidic foods and drinks. All of these things will irritate the ulcer and cause more tenderness.
- Fever blisters – Because fever blisters are viral, there are both topical and oral antiviral medications that can help reduce their severity and duration. It is important that you recognize fever blisters and cold sores in their earliest stages. Many people describe a tingling sensation before the small cluster of blisters appears. The earlier you begin the antiviral treatment, the better it will work. When an active fever blister or cold sore is present, do not kiss or share drinks or eating utensils with your loved ones.
- Food or foreign object stuck between teeth – When you get something stuck in your teeth, it is very tempting to go “digging” for it. You can actually cause more harm than good by doing this. The first tool you should attempt is plain old dental floss. If you are unable to gently floss the object out of place, you can try to use a GUM® Soft-Pick. These tiny rubber brushes fit between the teeth at the gum level. If you feel that the object has gone below the gums, do NOT attempt to remove it yourself. Make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.
How to Prevent Them
Some dental problems are preventable. By taking these steps, you will lower your risk for these common dental problems.
- Do not miss a dental check-up. You can avoid severe toothaches by staying on track with consistent professional teeth cleanings and oral evaluations. Catching problems early is always less expensive and less extensive than waiting until something hurts.
- Wear a protective mouthguard. If you play contact sports or participate any other adventurous activities, you can prevent broken teeth, knocked-out teeth, and cuts in your mouth by wearing a protective mouthguard.
- Keep a healthy immune system. This will lower your risk for canker sores and fever blisters. These types of mouth sores are more likely to occur when you are fighting stress or illness.
- Chew slowly. Problems with food impaction from small items like popcorn kernels and tortilla chips often occur when we are eating too quickly. Slow down, and let your teeth do their job properly.
- Never, ever use wooden toothpicks. If you have large spaces between the teeth, use a specific dental tool like GUM® Soft-Picks to clean between the teeth. These soft rubbery brushes will not splinter and break or cause any damage to your gum tissues.
More Questions about Common Dental Problems?
If you have other questions that we did not answer in this blog, please give us a call to schedule a consultation with us at Definition Dental. She can answer any question you have and help you figure out what specific steps you can take to prevent dental problems.