If you have gums that are inflamed, red, irritated, and bleed easily, you are suffering from gingivitis. Inflammation of your gum tissue can arise if you build up plaque on your teeth and do not remove it effectively when brushing, flossing and using mouthwash. It can also arise from other health problems and from too much mouth breathing or a poor diet. Gingivitis is typically treatable with good oral hygiene. However, if left unchecked it can progress to become periodontitis, a more serious condition affecting your bone around the teeth.
Periodontitis — inflammation of the periodontium, or the gums, bone and ligaments around your teeth — can lead to loss of gum and bone tissue. In the condition known as periodontal disease, your tooth roots gradually lose their support and the gums recede away. The teeth can as a result become loose and eventually require removal and dentures. Periodontal disease and dental decay are the two main conditions that can cause you to lose your teeth.
Dental decay, also known as cavities or caries, is one of the primary threats to your oral health. Decay is the process that occurs when the bacteria S. Mutans metabolizes sugar in your mouth. The bacterial waste product that forms once it metabolizes the sugar is acidic. This acid attacks your tooth and causes a hole to form in the enamel or root surface. Once an opening form, the acidity from the bacteria causes more of the tooth to dissolve. If left unchecked, decay can result in the loss of a tooth. Early stages of decay will not cause any sensitivity, so patients often put off treatment until the tooth hurts. Unfortunately if a patient waits until it hurts, often a tooth will need more extensive treatment. Later stages of decay can be treated with crowns, root canals and extractions. It is best, however, to treat decay when it first starts. If the decay is shallow it can often be treated with a small tooth-colored filling.
If you are missing teeth, your other teeth will drift and become more prone to cavities and periodontal disease. Also your other teeth will lose bone support and could become loose. If you are missing a back tooth, the opposing teeth will drift downwards and sometimes literally touch the gum tissue where the teeth were removed. This means that teeth can drift sometimes up to half an inch from their original spot if you do not have other teeth to chew against. The bone loss that accompanies missing teeth can result in a weaker jawbone. It is important to replace missing teeth as soon as you lose them to prevent these complications. You may be able to replace missing teeth with implants, fixed partial dentures or removable partial dentures.
Crowded or Spaced Teeth
If your teeth are in proper alignment, they will be less likely to develop cavities and you will be less likely to develop gum problems. We use Invisalign to align your teeth properly.
If a tooth is traumatized, or if the pulp of the tooth otherwise becomes infected, you can develop a painful dental abscess, which is a localized infection that starts at the tip of the root of your tooth. Left untreated, this can be a serious health threat. You may experience swelling in your face and other complications. Depending on the severity, an abscess can be treated either with antibiotics and root canal, or extraction, or possibly drainage of the infection by an oral surgeon. If you notice swelling in your jaw or you have difficulty opening fully, do not ignore it as it could lead to serious health complications if the infection enters your bloodstream or spreads past your jawbone into other areas of your body.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
Many medications and other health conditions can cause dryness in your mouth. If you do not have enough saliva, your teeth and gums will suffer. You will be more prone to cavities at the gum line. Curing dryness in the mouth is an ongoing area of research because it is brought on by so many different factors. In the meantime, thankfully we can treat the symptoms by using products such as Biotene, which increase saliva flow temporarily.
Grinding Teeth / Bruxism
Three ways to lose teeth: dental decay, periodontal disease, and grinding teeth. Severe grinding can result in cracked teeth that require extraction. It can also result in gradual wearing away of your enamel and eventual tooth loss in that manner. An acrylic night guard or other treatment can help you combat bruxism.
TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder)
Your temporomandibular joints are located close to your ears and they function when you open and close your mouth. These are highly used, complicated joints and it is common to develop symptoms over time that require attention. Many people suffer from locking, clicking, grinding and popping when they open or close or chew their food. Some people have difficulty opening fully. Others notice severe headaches and muscle cramps as their main symptoms. If you have these symptoms it is important to let us know about them so we can determine the best course of treatment.