Common Dental Problems

We’ve included detailed information about some of the most common dental issues to help you better understand problems you may be experiencing.  If you think you may be suffering from a dental problem, please contact us to schedule an appointment so we can help treat you and eliminate any pain or worry you may be suffering from.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Bacteria can transmission from parent to child. If a parent has tooth decay, it increases the chances their child will have tooth decay. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the minerals in teeth, forming a cavity. Pediatric dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet control and fluoride treatment.

Gingivitis and Gum Disease

Inflammation and/or infection of gum tissue may be gum disease which is caused by plaque accumulation. Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease and gingivitis refers to the early stage of gum disease. Symptoms include gums that bleed easily; red, swollen, tender gums; and bad breath. Risk factors for gum disease are poor oral hygiene; smoking or chewing tobacco; genetics; crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean; pregnancy; diabetes; and some medications. Gum disease is highly preventable through a regular routine of daily brushing and flossing. Early stages of gum disease are treatable and eliminating the infection can be as simple as receiving a professional cleaning at your dental office.

Canker Sores (Apthous Ulcers)

Apthous ulcers (canker sores) are recurrent, painful and superficial oral ulcers that last about 8 – 14 days. It is thought that cinnamon, fish, fruit allergies or benzoic acid found in preservatives may trigger these ulcers. Dental products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, pyrophosphates and alcohol have been associated with the development of these ulcers. Other causes may include trauma, heredity, allergies, hormonal or vitamin issues (decreases folate and B12).

Sensitive Teeth

Symptoms of sensitive teeth include pain, discomfort or irritation when teeth are exposed to hot or cold food and/or drinks. Discomfort may also be experienced when brushing or flossing your teeth. Causes can be worn tooth enamel; receding gums; or microscopic cracks in the teeth that can expose the tooth interior and cause irritations of nerve endings. Treatment options depend on what is causing the sensitivity and may include desensitizing toothpaste; fluoride varnishes or treatments; restorations (crown, inlay or bonding); surgical gum graft; or a root canal.

Bad Breath

Bad breath or abnormal mouth odor can be a result of strong foods such as garlic, onions, coffee, etc., or come from smoking or use of tobacco products. But it also may be an indication of more serious issues such as poor oral hygiene, gum problems, dry mouth, digestive problems, chronic sinusitis, and diabetes. Mouth odor can also be a side effect from some medications. Preventive measures include brushing and flossing your teeth (don’t forget your tongue), using mouthwash, quitting smoking, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Grinding (Bruxism)

Bruxism (grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw) is fairly common among toddlers. About 15 percent of children grind their teeth, mainly between ages three and ten.

Many people think stress is to blame. Others theorize that grinding is genetic or that it gives kids a way to work off excess energy. Bruxism may also be a sign that a child’s upper and lower jaw aren’t aligned properly. Children with allergies are three times more likely to grind their teeth than other kids. The pressure that grinding places on the jaws appears to relieve the itching, sneezing and coughing associated with hay fever. Also, you may see children grinding their teeth more if they are sick.

Bruxism usually disappears when the permanent teeth emerge, and it rarely causes long-term damage. If you suspect your child’s grinding is a result from stress, try making their bedtime ritual more peaceful and relaxed by adding an extra story or giving him/her a chance to talk about any fears and anxieties. Our doctors will look at the condition of your child’s teeth to detect if there are any unusual wear patterns. If bruxism leads to severe wear of primary teeth, treatment may be indicated. If bruxism continues into adolescence and adulthood and leads to wear on permanent teeth, a protective night guard could be prescribed by your dentist.

Over-Retained Primary (Baby) Teeth

When a primary (baby) tooth remains in place as a permanent tooth is erupting, it is referred to as an “over-retained” tooth. This condition requires the removal of the primary tooth. The presence of over-retained teeth in teenagers and adults can indicate potential problems such as congenitally missing or impacted permanent teeth. An early diagnosis of this condition can result in a better outcome so regular dental care is important to allow the dentist to monitor growth and development.

Wisdom Teeth

Third molars or “wisdom teeth” usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Problems can occur when there is not enough room for the teeth to surface or if they come through in the wrong position. Complications can include infections, pain, swelling and jaw stiffness; crowding or damage to neighboring teeth; and cysts caused by impactions that can damage roots of teeth or destroy bone that supports your teeth. Treatment recommendations may include the removal of wisdom teeth to correct or avoid complications.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that relaxes and comforts babies and toddlers. Children usually cease thumb sucking when the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Typically, children stop between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of primary teeth can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged and/or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child, talk to your kid’s dentist.

Orthodontic Problems

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile. Why should malocclusions be treated?  According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping. Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear. Open bites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments. Ultimately, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you.

Dental Anxiety

We are pleased to offer a fun facility and the expertise and training of our Great Beginnings staff and pediatric dentists to provide care to our patients. Our staff obtains the cooperation of our child or adolescent patients by using warmth, friendliness, persuasion, humor, charm, gentleness, kindness and understanding. There are several behavior management techniques used by our pediatric dentists and pediatric dental staff during a visit with each patient. These techniques include: Tell-Show-Do; Modeling from other patients; Positive reinforcement; Distraction (music, pictures on the ceiling, movies, iPads); Helpful tools — mouth pillows, rubber raincoats; and games – Patients become the doctor and fix Ellie the Elephant’s (a puppet) teeth. We also offer a variety of sedation options, nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and general anesthesia.

Be Great!

To schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric dental specialists, please contact us.

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