DENTAL PROBLEMS

Dental Problems

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Dr. Diane Haberl and Shawn Buffington, DDS are focused on addressing any dental problem you may have. Whether you’re noticing your mouth is drier than usual or you’re struggling with gum disease or cold sores, our office will put you back on the road to great oral health.

Abscessed Tooth

An abscessed tooth is a pocket of pus, usually caused by some kind of infection and the spread of bacteria from the root of the tooth to the tissue just below or near the tooth.

In some cases, antibiotics are administered in an attempt to kill an infection. If antibiotics are ineffective and an abscess is shown to be damaging the pulp or lower bony structures, a root canal may be needed to remove the dead pulp and restore the tooth to a healthy state.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors. In most cases, it is caused by food remaining in the mouth - on the teeth, tongue, gums, and other structures, collecting bacteria. Dead and dying bacterial cells release a sulfur compound that gives your breath an unpleasant odor. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash only mask the odor. Dieters sometimes develop unpleasant breath from fasting.

Daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings, will normally take care of unpleasant breath. If your bad breath persists even after good oral hygiene, there are special products your dentist may prescribe, including Zytex, which is a combination of zinc chloride, thymol and eucalyptus oil that neutralizes the sulfur compounds and kills the bacteria that causes them. In addition, a special antimicrobial mouth rinse may be prescribed.

Bulimia Nervosa

Those suffering from eating disorders can suffer from oral health problems as well. This is because many of the behaviors associated with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa — such as binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and use of diuretics or laxatives — cause changes in the mouth. 

For example, repeated episodes of vomiting, which is common in people with bulimia, release harmful stomach acids that pass through the mouth and can erode tooth enamel, causing cavities, discoloration and tooth loss. It’s important to find a professional who can assist in recovery from these damaging diseases.

Canker/Cold Sores

A canker sore is typically one that occurs on the delicate tissues inside your mouth. It is usually light-colored at its base and can have a red exterior border. A cold sore or fever blister, on the other hand, usually occurs on the outside of the mouth, usually on or near the nose or lips. A cold sore is contagious because it is caused by the herpes simplex virus.

In most cases, patience is the best medicine for treating canker sores. A healthy diet and good oral hygiene are usually the best remedy, but some special rinses and anesthetics can help. Cold sores can be treated effectively with some over-the-counter topical creams; sometimes, an antiviral medication will be prescribed.

Cavities & Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is caused by a variety of things; in medical terms, cavities are called caries, which are caused by long-term destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth's inner dentin material. These destructive forces include frequent exposure to foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Left inside your mouth from non-brushing and flossing, these materials break down quickly, allowing bacteria to form plaque.

If cavities aren't treated early enough, they can lead to more serious problems requiring treatments such as root canal therapy. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have a cavity:
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods 
  • A localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line 
  • Teeth that change color

Toothaches

Most toothaches can be relieved by rinsing the mouth to clear it of debris and other matter. Sometimes, a toothache can be caused or aggravated by a piece of debris lodged between the tooth and another tooth. If the pain persists, call our office.

Diabetes

People living with diabetes are vulnerable to a host of systemic problems in their entire body. Unfortunately, the mouth and teeth are not immune from such problems, and many diabetics with oral problems go undiagnosed until conditions become advanced. 

Infections and other problems such as receding gums and gum disease, or periodontal disease, are common afflictions among diabetics for many reasons. Let Dr. Haberl or Shawn Buffington, DDS know if you have diabetes and we’ll make sure all your concerns are addressed.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is one of your body's natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials. Dry mouth (also called Xerostomia) is a fairly common condition that is caused by diminished saliva production. People with certain medical conditions are often plagued by dry mouth. Eating foods such as garlic, tobacco use, and some kinds of medications, including treatments such as cancer therapy can diminish the body's production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. Other causes are related to aging (including rheumatoid arthritis), and compromised immune systems. 

If you don't have a medical condition that causes it, dry mouth can be minimized by sipping water regularly, chewing sugarless gum and avoiding smoking. 

Fluorosis

Fluorosis is a condition in which your body has been exposed to too much fluoride. In normal doses (typically found in a safe drinking water system and ADA-approved toothpaste), fluoride is a healthy compound that promotes strong teeth, which has the ability to fight cavities and other problems. 

But sometimes, fluorosis occurs when fluoride-containing toothpastes or rinses are swallowed, instead of expelled. Fluorosis causes a number of aesthetic problems, including abnormally darkened or stained teeth. 

Gum Disease

Gingivitis is the medical term for early gum disease, or periodontal disease. In general, gum disease can be caused by long-term exposure to plaque. Early warning signs include chronic bad breath, tender or painful swollen gums and minor bleeding after brushing or flossing. In many cases, however, gingivitis can go unnoticed. The infections can eventually cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating even greater opportunities for infection and decay.

Periodontitis is treated in a number of ways. One method, called root planing, involves cleaning and scraping below the gum line to smooth the roots. 

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that erupt in the back corners of the upper and lower normal adult mouth. Unfortunately, most people experience problems from wisdom teeth; in most cases, this is because the teeth erupt too close to existing permanent teeth, causing crowding, improper bites, and other problems.

If wisdom teeth are causing a problem, this could mean that they are impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extremely painful, as well as harmful to your oral health. Many people need to have their wisdom teeth extracted to avoid future serious problems. 

Lacerations

Any kind of cut to your face and the delicate soft tissues inside your mouth should be addressed immediately in order to prevent further tissue damage and infection. If a traumatic injury involves a broken facial bone such as the jaw, nose, chin or cheek, maxillofacial surgery may be required. 

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers today and has one of the lowest survival rates, with thousands of new cases being reported each year. Fewer than half of all people diagnosed with oral cancer are ever cured. Older adults over the age of 40 (especially men) are most susceptible to developing oral cancer, but people of all ages are at risk.

In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making even self-diagnosis difficult.

Tobacco and alcohol are the biggest culprits that cause oral cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses. Maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are highly recommended.

Plaque

Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and gums after eating foods that produce acids. These foods may include carbohydrates (starches and sugars), such as candy and cookies, and starchy foods such as bread, crackers, and cereal.

Plaque can lead to gum irritation, soreness, and redness. Sometimes, your gums may begin to bleed as a result of plaque. This gradual degeneration can often cause gums to pull away from teeth. This condition is called receding gums. Long-term plaque can lead to serious problems. Sometimes, the bacteria can form pockets of disease around tooth structures, eventually destroying the bone beneath the tooth.

Sensitive Teeth

If you wince with pain after sipping a hot cup of coffee or chewing a piece of ice, chances are that you suffer from "dentin hypersensitivity," or more commonly, sensitive teeth.

Hot and cold temperature changes cause your teeth to expand and contract. Over time, your teeth can develop microscopic cracks that allow these sensations to seep through to the nerves. Exposed areas of the tooth can cause pain and even affect or change your eating, drinking and breathing habits.

In some cases, desensitizing toothpaste, sealants, desensitizing ionization, and filling materials including fluoride, and decreasing the intake of acid-containing foods, can alleviate some of the pain associated with sensitive teeth.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is often viewed as a harmless, though annoying, habit. Some people develop bruxism from an inability to deal with stress or anxiety. However, teeth grinding can literally transform your bite relationship and worse, severely damage your teeth and jaws over long periods of time.

This abnormal wear and tear will prematurely age and loosen your teeth, and open them to problems such as hypersensitivity (from the small cracks that form, exposing your dentin). Bruxism can also lead to chronic jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches. A common therapy involves wearing a night guard. Less intrusive, though just as effective methods could involve biofeedback and behavior modification, such as tongue exercises and learning how to properly align your tongue, teeth and lips.

Jaw Disorders

People who grind their teeth can sometimes develop a serious problem with their jaw, which left untreated, can adversely affect the teeth, gums and bone structures of the mouth. One of the most common jaw disorders is related to a problem with the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull.

People with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) often have a clicking or popping sound when opening and closing their mouths. Such disorders are often accompanied by frequent headaches, neck aches, and in some cases, tooth sensitivity. Some treatments for TMD include muscle relaxants, aspirin, biofeedback, or wearing a night guard in the mouth during sleep. 
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