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How to Avoid Common Tooth and Gum Problems

Tooth and gum problems can be painful, inconvenient, and sometimes costly to treat. Awareness of these issues and their causes is an essential step in preventing them. Here is a list of the most common dental problems and how they can be avoided:

Bad Breath

Bad breath (or halitosis) is a condition in which a person’s breath has an unpleasant smell. It is caused by several factors, but the most prevalent are the following: odour-causing foods, poor dental hygiene, oral infections, or dryness of the mouth. Bad breath can often be resolved by brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove bacteria. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper is also helpful.

In some cases, an underlying illness can be associated with bad breath:

A fishy odour might be a sign of kidney disease.

A fruity smell can be associated with diabetes.

A rotten egg-like odour can be a sign of liver disease.

Here are some ways to prevent bad breath:

Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.

Clean all corners of your mouth, including hard-to-reach areas like the back of the tongue.

Floss at least once a day to remove tiny food particles stuck between teeth.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent dental problems worldwide. According to the Canadian Dental Association, about 60 to 90 percent of school-aged children and close to 100 percent of adults have tooth decay. This condition occurs when plaque forms on teeth and produces acids that eat away at the enamel. If not removed, plaque can result in the formation of cavities (dental caries) in the teeth.

Tooth decay is mainly caused by:

Failure to brush regularly

Excessive consumption of sugary foods and beverages


Dry mouth

Lack of fluoride

With regular basic oral hygiene, tooth decay can be prevented. Use a toothpaste or mouth rinse containing fluoride, as this mineral helps build teeth’s resistance to decay by hardening the enamel. When a tooth has already been damaged by plaque, a dental filling may be required to stop the decay from affecting other teeth. Other treatment options include fitting a crown to replace the damaged part of the tooth or root canal to remove the infected pulp.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can be mild (e.g. irritation after biting one’s cheek) or more serious (when caused by an underlying illness). Common mouth sores include canker and cold sores, which can appear on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks, or lips.

Non-contagious canker sores may result from a number of factors, including:

Hormonal changes


Weakening of the immune system

Lack of vitamins (like iron or B12)

Preventive measures to keep mouth sores at bay depend on the type of sore. To avoid those that result from biting the inner cheek, chew food carefully and slowly. Exercise care when eating hot foods to lessen the likelihood of burn-related sores.

Cold sores are contagious, but over-the-counter creams and gels are helpful in treating pain or discomfort; prescription medications may be necessary to aid in staving off an outbreak. For canker sores, try dabbing the affected area with a paste of baking soda and water. (Always consult your doctor for appropriate treatment if a mouth sore is accompanied by fever, or if you experience drooling or difficulty chewing or swallowing.)

Tooth Sensitivity

The nerves of teeth are covered by a microscopic layer called dentin, which can become exposed due to a number of factors: gum disease, receding gums, age, brushing too hard, and teeth-whitening products. This exposure can cause irritation and pain when eating food and beverages that are hot, cold, acidic, or sugary. Teeth exposed to cold air can also lead to sensitivity. Some people with sensitive teeth may feel discomfort when brushing and flossing.

Brushing properly using a soft-bristled brush, flossing at least once a day, and cutting back on acidic food and drinks are some steps to avoid tooth sensitivity. For people who are already experiencing this problem, a dental checkup is advised to determine the cause of the sensitivity and the appropriate treatment.

Gum Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when gums are infected by plaque. Two types of gum disease are:

Gingivitis – Milder and reversible, gingivitis is characterized by red, swollen, or bleeding gums.

Periodontitis – A more advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis is caused by plaque that spreads beyond the gum line. Gums can deteriorate and bones supporting the teeth may get brittle. If left untreated, tooth loss can occur.

Proper oral care like regular brushing and flossing to remove plaque and bacteria is crucial in the prevention of gum disease. Patients diagnosed with certain health conditions (like diabetes) are at a higher risk of developing gum disease and should talk to their dentist for proper preventive care.


Inflammation of the tissues within the tooth (called the pulp), emerging wisdom teeth, or gum infections can lead to a toothache. Biting your nails or chewing food that is too hard (like popcorn kernels or candy) may cause cracks in the teeth (or break a tooth entirely), causing discomfort. Never use your teeth to hold objects or open a bottle; these behaviours could result in small cracks that can eventually lead to bigger, more painful ones. If you experience a cracked tooth, see your dentist. He or she will determine the proper treatment, depending on how severe the damage is and which tooth is affected.

by Springdale dental

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