Common Dental Problems

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Grinding

Grinding is a normal although poorly understood function in children. Also known as bruxism, grinding naturally occurs at night and may wear down the primary teeth. Grinding in children is rarely treated since it typically goes away when the permanent teeth erupt. Primary teeth that are ground down to the nerve will become painful and need to be removed. Nightguards are not recommend since the guard will act as a retainer stunting growth, are expensive to fabricate and become ill-fitting as growth occurs and the permanent teeth erupt. Grinding that continues when the permanent teeth erupt causing dental or muscular pain is often cured with a nightguard.

Sensitive Teeth

Teeth expand and contract in reaction to changes in temperature and flex when grinding or clenching. Hot and cold foods and beverages can cause pain or irritation to people with sensitive teeth by overstimulation of dentin or the periodontal ligament (PDL). Over time, tooth enamel can be worn down, gums may recede or teeth may develop microscopic cracks, exposing the interior of the tooth and irritating nerve endings. Breathing cold air might even be painful for those with extremely sensitive teeth. Sensitivity toothpaste, restorations or nightguards are common solutions to sensitive teeth although disease should always be ruled out first.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis (gum disease) is inflammation of the gum tissue usually from plaque accumulation. Gingivitis begins when the sticky film of bacteria (plaque) irritates the gum tissue at the margin of the tooth. Irritated gums in the early stage of disease bleed easily and become red and swollen. As the disease progresses to periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth), the ligament and bone that the support the teeth become diseased and tooth loss will eventually follow. Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing, flossing and use of an antibacterial mouth rinse.

Bad Breath

Food residue that is not cleaned from the mouth deteriorates creating an environment that supports the colonization of bacteria. Certain bacteria release sulfur compounds that smell unpleasant (halitosis). While certain foods, such as onions or garlic, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum or oral disease. Bad breath can also occur in mouth breathers. This can be reduced by brushing the tongue and keeping the mouth moist with water.

Canker Sores

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small to large painful sores inside the mouth with a white or gray base surrounded by a red border. Most sores last one to two weeks and are a benign autoimmune response that has no cure. Pain medication and topical ointments will usually provide enough comfort until the body can naturally heal the sore. These sores may be mistaken for cold sores which is a virus, but also has no cure. Unlike canker sores, cold sores can be transmitted in the early stages.