Common Oral Health Problems & Treatments Part One

1. Tooth decay (dental caries)

Cavities are holes in teeth. Cavities are made by the infection called tooth decay. If you have a black spot on your tooth, it might be a cavity. If that tooth hurts some of the time, such as when you eat, drink or breathe cold air, it probably has a cavity in it. Causes can be black, a film or coating of germs that can form on the teeth, mix with food and make acid, bacteria slash microorganisms, tiny germs that you can only see with a microscope and that cause many different infectious diseases.

Acid, a strong liquid that is produced from certain foods left in the mouth. Acid causes both tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar, a hard rock coating on the tooth near the gums, also called calculus. Tartar forms when old black mixes with calcium in the saliva over time. Hence prevention is highly recommended such as proper tooth brushing and regular flossing, avoiding sugar-rich foods, eating fibrous food like fruits and vegetables.

What the dentist will do? The decay in the tooth will be removed by a dental drill and then filled with appropriate filling materials. What you can do? Salt water rinse, swish warm salty water around in your mouth, mix half a teaspoon of table salt to eight ounces of water and spit it out. You can also gently floss around the sore tooth to remove any bits of food that may be stuck.

Use over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. Use herbal medicines like garlic pulp. Try chewing a piece of garlic or placing chopped bits on your tooth. It is important to note that if your toothache is severe or is the result of a more serious medical condition. You need to see your dentist so that it can be treated properly.

2. Cavities and defective fillings (recurrent caries)

A cavity can also start around an old filling, especially if it is dirty. Signs and symptoms: pain when drinking water and eating something sweet, a hole or black spot on the tooth or between two teeth, pain of food gets caught inside the cavity. Prevention: avoid biting hard food on teeth with tooth filling, develop a regular tooth brushing technique.

What the dentist will do? The cavity within the tooth will be cleaned by a dental drill and then replaced with a suitable tooth filling. What you can do? Try to remove any loose piece of filling with a toothpick, put some cotton into the hole to keep food out, and arrange to see a dentist to replace defective fillings. To avoid worsening a problem, do not use hard toothbrush, do not brush back and forth along the involved tooth and gums, do not use or chew beetle nut.

3. Tooth abscess

When decay touches the nerve inside, the tooth aches even when you try to sleep. When infection reaches the inside of a tooth, it is can lead to tooth abscess. This is one of the most painful and dreaded situation a person can experience relating to their teeth. A cavity that is not filled grows bigger and deeper until it touches the nerve. Germs travel inside the tooth root and start an infection called an abscess. Abscess or pus forms at the end of the route inside the bone. As the pus increases, it causes great pressure thereby causing severe pain.

Signs and symptoms: pain all the time, tooth often feels longer and even a bit loose, tooth hurts when it is tapped, presence of gum bubble, redness, pus, cavities or swelling, appears as dark circular lesion on x-ray. Prevention: regular dental checkup every six months, to check on beginning cavities and existing tooth fillings. If there is a cavity, have it filled right away.

What the dentist will do? Initial antibiotic and pain medicine therapy if indicated. Patient should complete the medication even if the pain and swelling goes down. One possible treatment may be root canal, removal of the infected nerve in the tooth or extraction, removal of the infected tooth.

What you can do? You may take these steps to stop the problem from getting worse: wash the inside of your mouth with warm water, this may remove any bits of food caught inside the cavity. Take medicine for pain. If you see a cavity starting or feel a tooth hurting, see a dentist right away. Do this before the pain gets worse.

4. Tooth injuries

A dislodged baby tooth can’t be replaced and does not need to be put back. On the other hand, a permanent tooth which is more sharply defined that a baby tooth can often be saved if prompt action is taken and the tooth is handled carefully. A permanent tooth has the best chance of survival if replaced within 30 minutes. Any tooth may be broken or cracked due to sudden blow or trauma to the teeth. It is possible to save a broken tooth. It depends on where the tooth is broken and whether its nerve is still covered.

Signs and symptoms: pain when breathing air, drinking water, blood from the gums around the tooth, tooth moves when you touch it. What the dentist will do? The tooth root is probably broken if the tooth moves when touched. The dentist will take out the broken tooth if its nerve is not covered. If root canal treatment is not done then the tooth must be extracted. What you can do? Collect all the pieces of the tooth, rinse the damaged area of the mouth with warm water, use a cold compress to hold on the injured tooth, see a dentist right away.

Tooth knocked out (evulsion)

A tooth may be accidentally thrown out of its socket, caused by a sudden blow to the teeth. Signs and symptoms: pain in the area of knocked out tooth, bleeding from the socket, tooth is very loose in the socket it falls off. What your dentist will do? The knockout tooth will be clean by a saline solution first to remove dirt, it will then be replaced back to its socket and stabilized by attaching it to nearby tooth with stainless steel wires. If the tooth dies and discolors after several months, a root canal treatment can be done and a jacket crown will cover the treated tooth.

You will be advised to wear a mouth guard when engaging in contact sports. Mouth guards are recommended to protect the jawn teeth during physical activity in sports, such as boxing, football, basketball or other activities where your mouth may be hit. Guards also protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.

What you can do? Avoid addition trauma to tooth while handling the knocked out tooth. Do not handle tooth by the root. Do not brush or scrub tooth. If debris is on tooth, gently rinse with water. If possible re-implant tooth and stabilize by biting down gently on the towel or handkerchief. If unable to reimplant, store the knocked out tooth in any of the following available medium: Best: Place tooth in a physiologic transport medium. 2nd Best: Place tooth in milk. 3rd Best: Wrap tooth in saline-soaked gauze. 4th Best: Place tooth under tongue. 5th Best: Place tooth in a cup of water.

Luxation tooth remains in socket but wrong position. Signs and symptoms: you can feel the tooth move when the upper and lower teeth meet, that tooth hurts. What your dentist will do? Treatment will depend on the cause and extent of the injury. Most commonly, splinting may be done to stabilize the tooth. What you can do? Try to reposition tooth and socket using firm finger pressure. Stabilize tooth by gently biting on towel or handkerchief. Transport immediately to dentist. For intruded tooth, avoid any repositioning of tooth.

This is the part one. In part two, we will show you gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis and some more serious soft tissue diseases.

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