5 Common Dental Problems

Don’t let it bite back at you

In our wonderful lifespan of 80 years (some longer and some shorter) , many of us inevitably face some type of dental problems eventually. While some of them happen due to accidents such as illness or injuries, most can be prevented with good oral care regimen.

Understanding the common dental problems will help you treat them quickly and even prevent them from happening in the first place.


Tooth Decay

Also known as dental cavities (structural damage in teeth).

Plaque is the main precipitator for tooth decay. Plaque is a sticky mixture of saliva, normal oral bacteria and the remnants of food particles stuck on the surface of teeth. When plaque forms, the bacteria inside will start to produce acid that attacks the enamel of teeth, causing it to breakdown, and eventually forming holes within.

A warning telltale sign is when the enamel turns softer, and becomes more chalk white in color. When we start experiencing pain, it is not a good sign because it is a sign of nerve damage, which meant that the decay is at its advanced stage.

Read more about tooth decay, its treatment and preventive measures here.

Gum disease

As known as gingivitis ( inflammation of the gum tissue)

Gingivitis is most commonly caused by the buildup of bacterial plaque between and around the teeth, triggering an immune system response, affecting the surrounding gum tissues. Gingivitis can also be triggered by genes, smoking, hormonal changes; even with certain medication (affects release of saliva).

Swollen, red or purple gums are often first signs of gingivitis. It can be painful to touch, or bleeding (with or without brushing). Sometimes, we can even develop abscess (a collection of pus) in the gums.

Read more about gum disease, its treatment and preventive measures here.


Mouth sores

Can present itself in the forms of ulcers or blisters, and can appear anywhere in the mouth, including lips, gums, palate, tongue and/or the inner cheeks.

Different sores have different root causes. Sores can develop from trauma (eg. poor fitting braces, drinking soup that is too hot etc.), stress, hormonal changes, infections, immunity changes, nutritional deficiency or even cancer. Common painful mouth sores include cold sores (caused by the contagious herpes simplex virus) and canker sores (non contagious ulcers).

Cold sores often first appear as blisters, often found outside of the the mouth -on the lips and outer edges of the mouth. Within the mouth, it often presents itself on the gums or on the palate.

On the other hand, canker sores appears as oval or round shaped ulcers with red borders, and are often found on mucous membranes of the mouth. Oh, and they hurt. A lot.

Read more about the different kinds of mouth sores, its treatments and preventive measures here.


Bad breath

Also known as halitosis or malodor.

Bad breath comes from the mouth up to 90% of the time. It can be due to improper oral hygiene, where the anaerobic respiration of the bacteria wrecks havoc in the smell department. Bad breath can also be due to food habits, adverse habits (e.g smoking, alcohol drinking), drugs, dehydrated states, and pathological disorders (e.g metabolic disorders like diabetes; gastrointestinal tract diseases like gastritis; salivary gland dysfunctions etc)

Did you know that we often find it hard to detect bad breath in ourselves? Rather curious since we can always tell that of another person with a slight whiff. One foolproof way is really to enlist the help of a trusted friend, and get his/her opinion. It will also be interesting to note that to the trained nose, one can actually distinguish the possible root cause of malodor.

For example, a diabetic’s breath can sometimes be thought of as ‘sweet and sickly’; whilst people with lung problems often give off a putrid smell in their breath. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Read more about bad breath, its treatments and preventive measures here.


Sore throat

Also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis, depending on the location of the discomfort.

Sore throats can be caused by viral infections, bacterial infections (find out about the differences between virus and bacteria here) or irritants and injuries (e.g smoking, persistent talking etc).

Symptoms include discomfort, burning or scratching sensations at the back of the throat, tendency to experience pain when swallowing, and tenderness around the neck area. Simply put, painful and/or irritating to the throat. A major annoyance.

Read more about sore throat, its treatments and preventive measures here.