Dental Problems Besides Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Almost just about everyone knows that brushing, flossing, and dental visits can help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Although tooth decay and gum disease are the most common threats to your oral health, they are unfortunately not the only things that can compromise your oral health. In fact, regular dental visits not only help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but allows your dentist to identify other potential oral health problems such as:
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt in early adulthood. Unfortunately, many people don’t have enough space for these teeth to erupt. This leads to the teeth becoming partially or completely impacted. A partial impaction refers to a tooth that is partially erupted over the gum line, while a complete impaction refers to a tooth that is entirely underneath the gum line. Both partially and completely impacted wisdom teeth cause numerous complications and most dentists recommend that they are extracted.
Your teeth can become discolored as a result of age, eating and drinking highly pigmented foods and beverages, and taking certain medications. However, staining generally occurs somewhat uniformly on all your teeth. Cases where a single tooth is discolored can indicate possible tooth trauma or a pulp infection. When the tooth is pinkish in color or has a bruised appearance, this usually indicates trauma. When the tooth is gray or black in color, this indicates that the tooth pulp is infected or dead. Once a tooth has turned gray or black, your dentist will need to perform a root canal to restore the tooth.
Despite the fact that tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, it is still able to become damaged. Teeth can become damaged from a number of things such as biting down on hard foods, using the teeth as tools to hold or open things, taking a blow to the face, or from constantly grinding or clenching the teeth. As a general rule, it takes more force to damage healthy enamel, meaning that teeth affected by decay are more likely to become damaged. When tooth enamel is damaged, it can take the form of a chipped tooth or a cracked tooth. Luckily, there are various restoration options for a damaged tooth, depending on the location, type, and severity of the damage.
Oral thrush is a fungal yeast infection within the mouth. It has a chalky, white appearance and spreads throughout the soft tissues in the mouth. Oral thrush is rare in the general population, however it can develop in people with conditions like HIV/AIDS, unmanaged diabetes, cancer, or other medical conditions that compromise the immune system. Additionally, people who wear dentures are also more likely to develop oral thrush. To treat oral thrush, dentists often use prescription medications.
Teeth Grinding or Clenching
As mentioned above, teeth can become damaged as a result of teeth grinding or clenching. This is an unconscious behavior that occurs while sleeping and is brought on by stress. The constant pressure of enamel on enamel can cause the teeth to crack, chip, or wear down prematurely. The pressure of pressing the teeth together also strains the jaw joint and can cause pain. In some cases, teeth grinding and clenching can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
Dr. Speer prides himself on excellence in all aspects of dentistry. He stays up to date on the latest technologies by attending various continuing education courses throughout the year. He also enjoys volunteering his time and expertise at events, such as Portland Mission of Mercy. He is a member of the Clackamas County Dental Society, Oregon Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also the former President of the Oregon Chapter of Delta Sigma Delta, an international Dental Fraternity.