Diseases and medical conditions of the mouth are not only visually unpleasant, sometimes painful, and uncomfortable, but certain conditions have been linked to diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. We must take good care of our teeth, mouth, and gums to avoid oral infections.
Tooth enamel is the only part of the body that cannot be regenerated as it is not living tissue. It cannot even be artificially generated, so we must do everything we can to keep our teeth in superior condition.
Tooth decay occurs when plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth. Plaque is a colony of microorganisms that float around in a sticky medium, which helps the bacteria to cling to teeth. Naturally, we need a certain amount of this bacteria in the mouth to break down our food, but if the number becomes too high, problems occur. Plaque bacteria feed off sugar from carbohydrate-rich foods and sugary food and drink and produce acids during this process. An abundance of acid will lead to tooth decay.
It is crucial that you limit the amount of sugary food and drinks in your diet to prevent the build-up of plaque – as is brushing and flossing twice a day. If plaque is not removed correctly, it can start to harden and form a compound known as tartar. Visiting a reputable dentist such as Mountain Shadows Family Dentistry of Colorado Springs every six months for a check-up will ensure you maintain good oral hygiene.
The build-up of plaque and inadequate brushing – especially around the gum line, may cause red, swollen, sore gums. This condition is quite common in adults, and most will experience it at some point in their lives. During brushing, the gums may bleed, and you will notice this when you spit your toothpaste into the sink. When the gums bleed, this is known as gingivitis and may also cause bad breath. If gingivitis is not treated and becomes worse, periodontitis may develop, which is a disease that leads to loose teeth and tooth loss. Periodontitis affects the tissue in the jaw bone and causes the tooth support to weaken.
There are many types of oral cancer. They can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, sinuses, throat, hard and soft palate, and the mouth floor.
Oral cancers appear as lumps, rough spots, or erosions in the mouth area and can cause a whole host of symptoms such as loose teeth, mouth pain, ear pain, difficulty swallowing, dramatic weight loss, sores that do not heal and bleeding in the mouth.
Certain lifestyle choices can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. Smoking, using chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and too much exposure to sunlight can increase your chances, so it is important to quit smoking, decrease the amount of alcohol in your diet and use a high factor sunscreen every day.
Cold sores are painful, fluid-filled blisters that develop on the mouth. They are caused by a virus known as the herpes simplex virus type 1. This virus is highly infectious and is passed between humans through physical contact and sharing towels, cutlery, or lip balms. Once you have the virus, it will never leave your body. Still, it may become dormant and only trigger visually when you become stressed, run-down, experience temperature extremes, or have hormonal changes. If you suspect you may be developing a cold sore, seek immediate help. Your doctor or local pharmacist can prescribe a topical cream or oral medication to treat the condition.
Teeth grinding or bruxism is when a person grinds their teeth and clenches their jaw either while awake or during sleep. Nocturnal bruxism is the most common type and can be due to sleep apnea, an abnormal bite, or uneven teeth. Prolonged tooth grinding can cause jaw and head pain, and more seriously, lead to tooth damage.
If you suspect that you are suffering from bruxism, visit your dentist, who may offer to make a mouth guard for you to wear at night to protect your teeth from being ground down to small stubs. Suppose uneven teeth are the cause of your clenching. In that case, the dentist can offer advice on how to remedy the situation, such as correcting misaligned teeth or replacing missing teeth with implants.
Stress is a significant cause of jaw clenching and tooth grinding. Visit a doctor for some advice on how to deal with your anxiety. You may be referred to a counselor or offered medication to relax your muscles.