Causes: Periodontal diseases attack the sulcus, a v-shaped crevice at the gum line that supports a tooth. Risk factors include tobacco use (including smokeless tobacco), medications taken for cancer therapy, oral contraceptives, steroids, bridges that do not fit properly, crooked teeth, defective fillings and poor oral hygiene.
Symptoms: It is possible to have periodontal disease and not have any of the following warning signs.
: Gums that bleed easily : Tender, red and swollen gums : Gums that have pulled away from the teeth : Persistent bad taste or bad breath : Teeth that are loose or separating from the gums : Change in the way teeth fit together when biting : Change in partial denture (or other appliances) fit
Diagnosis and Treatment: Periodontal disease has two major stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first stage where the gums are affected but damage can be reversed with early recognition, treatment by your dentist and good health care habits. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into the final stage of periodontal disease, periodontitis. Periodontitis is severe and the stage where irreversible bone loss occurs around the tooth.
Each year approximately 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer and nearly 8,000 will die from it according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. This fact is startling considering most oral cancer is preventable and even curable if detected early. Lower your risk of developing oral cancer by:
: Eliminating tobacco use : Limit alcohol use : Use lip balm with sunscreen : Eat a balanced diet
Causes: Anyone is susceptible to oral cancer but it is most often found in those who use tobacco products and alcohol. Used together, alcohol and tobacco heighten the risk for developing oral cancer. Prolonged exposure to the sun can also cause lip cancer.
Symptoms: The main symptom associated with oral cancer is a flat, painless spot, either white or red, anywhere on the mouth but other symptoms include: : Change in oral tissue color : Tenderness, numbness or pain in the mouth or lips : A sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal : A difference in the way teeth come together : Difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing or moving the jaw
Diagnosis and Treatment: A regular dental checkup includes an oral cancer screening, which is why it is important to see your dentist every six months for a cleaning and exam. Early detection is key with oral cancer as only half of all patients diagnosed with it survive more than five years. If detected early, the dentist can surgically remove precancerous cells that could develop into full blown oral cancer.
Bruxism, the grinding of teeth and the clenching of jaws, often occurs during sleep.
Causes: Stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and other local factors.
Symptoms: : Dull headache : Shoulder and neck ache : Sore jaw muscle : Sensitive teeth to hot, cold or pressure
Diagnosis and Treatment: A mouth guard, fitted by a dentist, can protect teeth during sleep and reduce the pain caused by severe grinding of the teeth. Bruxism is an unconscious lifelong habit—not unlike rolling over while sleeping. Speak to a dentist about possible treatment options.
Causes: Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ) are a result of issues with the jaw muscles or joints. Some problems occur due to arthritis, jaw dislocation, or injuries to the head and neck. A blow to the head or even stress can cause temporomandibular conditions.
Symptoms: Tenderness in the muscles of the jaw on either side of the head is the main symptom but clicking/popping of the jaw and teeth grinding are also indications of temporomandibular disorders.
Diagnosis and Treatment: A dental exam and x-rays can identify the source of temporomandibular pain. Once identified, a dentist can assign necessary treatments such as stress reducing exercise, wearing a mouth guard or muscle relaxers.
Causes: Meth mouth is caused by use of methamphetamine drugs. A methamphetamine high usually lasts around 12 hours, which results in improper oral hygiene for extended amounts of time. Users are susceptible to tooth decay because 1) the drug dries the salivary glands which are the first line of defense against decay 2) while high users often crave carbonated beverages that are loaded with sugar and 3) the user may have very poor oral hygiene habits.
Symptoms: : Extensive tooth decay—especially at the gum line of the teeth : Dry mouth : Teeth grinding or clenching due to drug affecting the nervous system : Malnourished appearance because methamphetamine is an appetite suppressant
Diagnosis and Treatment: Often times tooth decay is too great to salvage the teeth and thus they must be extracted.
Causes: The exact cause of canker sores is unknown but some dentists link canker sores to immune system problems, bacteria and viruses. Canker sore likelihood has also been attributed to fatigue, stress and allergies.
Symptoms: : Small ulcer with white or gray base and a red border within the mouth : Pain from a sore within the mouth : Great discomfort when touched or introduced to food
Diagnosis and Treatment: There is no direct treatment for canker sores but temporary relief may come through over-the-counter topical anesthetics. Normally, a canker sore will heal within a week or two. They are not contagious.
Causes: Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus type 1.
Symptoms: : Blister-like sore around the lips and chin and sometimes under the nose : Occur after a fever, sunburn, skin abrasion or emotionally upsetting moment