When it comes to protecting your oral health, a number of problems can arise that threaten more than just the health of your teeth and gums. While brushing and flossing daily can help to prevent the majority of these problems from developing, occasionally oral health problems result due to an underlying condition or from indulging in a number of bad habits. With that in mind, here are a few of the more common oral health problems that millions of people deal with each day.
Even though your teeth are coated with the hardest substance produced by the body, enamel, they can still become chipped, cracked, or broken if placed under too great a strain. Considering the amount of wear and tear we subject our teeth to on a daily basis, it’s surprising that our teeth don’t suffer more permanent damage.
Engaging in certain habits, such as regularly munching on ice or hard candy, using your teeth to open plastic bags or bottles, or playing sports without a mouth guard, can all result in damage occurring to your teeth. While small chips or crack may not present a problem, more serious damage may cause you intense pain and permanent damage. If you break chip, or crack a tooth, you need to visit Dr. Williams for repairs to the damage through the use of tooth contouring, dental bonding, or porcelain veneers.
Often the result of poor oral hygiene habits, gum disease occurs when a buildup of bacteria in the mouth infects the gum tissue. Once infected, your gums may start to pull away from your teeth, creating small pockets where even more bacteria can begin to accumulate. Without treatment, this bacteria can cause a more serious infection called periodontal disease, which could cause tooth loss. In addition to not brushing and flossing enough, high levels of stress, poor diet, and smoking can also cause gum disease.
A jaw problem referred to as temporomandibular joint syndrome, TMJ causes those suffering from the condition to experience severe pain in the neck, ear, face, and jaw. TMJ often results from bad habits that include teeth grinding, jaw clenching, but can also be the result of an injury. The symptoms of TMJ can also include dizziness, headaches, and trouble eating and speaking. Treating the condition may require wearing a mouth guard at night while sleeping, surgery, or prescription medication.
Even though oral cancer is one of the easiest forms of the disease to treat when caught at an early stage of development, oral cancer has a higher mortality rate than cervical cancer, throat cancer, and testicular cancer, according to statistics compiled by the Oral Cancer Foundation. The reason oral cancer has such a high mortality rate is due to how late in the disease’s development many patients receive their diagnosis.
To the untrained eye, oral cancer can appear as a sore that fails to heal, a small speck, or lesion. It’s only when patients begin to experience symptoms, which can include numbness in the neck, mouth, or face, and trouble eating and speaking, do they seek treatment. Unfortunately, waiting so long before seeking medical attention can give the disease the opportunity to spread throughout the body.
To lower your risk of the disease, you need to undergo regular checkups with Dr. Williams. As part of most dental exams, Dr. Williams will perform a routine oral cancer screening to determine if anything with your oral health seems suspicious. If Dr. Williams spots a potential problem, he will most likely order tests to determine the nature of the problem.