Dental problems are any type of mouth problem that requires the assistance of a dentist to remedy. These problems might relate to the teeth, the gums or another part of the mouth altogether. No matter how well you try to take care of your teeth, having the occasional dental problem is a regular part of life for many people.
The problems that might send you to the dentist vary widely, from a lost tooth because of an injury to gum disease. And though most dental problems are not serious, some issues in the mouth can be a warning sign of a deeper, underlying condition elsewhere in the body.
When it comes to problems with the teeth, there are some -- like a tooth that’s cracked or knocked out from an injury -- that are easy to determine. In both of these situations, it’s best to keep the tooth moist and see a dentist immediately, as the tooth can sometimes be saved. Other tooth problems are not as easy to spot, but if you feel pain from cold liquids or foods, it might be due to a cavity. And redness or swelling around the teeth or face could be a sign of an abscess or infection.
Problems with the gums are usually progressive disorders. A gum problem generally starts with gingivitis, which is the buildup of plaque between the teeth and on the gums. Gingivitis that is not addressed properly can gradually progress to periodontitis, or gum disease. At this point, the plaque begins to cause the decay of the gums and teeth, which can lead to greater problems, such as tissue, bone and tooth loss.
The most common dental problems, such as gingivitis, gum disease and cavities, can be prevented with good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day and between meals when possible. You should also floss at least once a day, use a plaque-preventing mouthwash and see a dentist for regular checkups. If problems persist despite these steps or if you experience other alarming symptoms in the mouth, schedule an appointment right away with your dentist.
SOURCES: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Periodontology