5 dental problems big, small and dangerous
PETALING JAYA: Most people tend to brush off dental problems until such time when the pain becomes unbearable or when eating is next to impossible.
However, dental health should be given due respect as it can also affect one’s overall health and sense of wellbeing.
Sugary drinks and foods coupled with poor dental hygiene can wreak havoc on one’s teeth.
As shocking as it may seem to some, many people do not brush their teeth twice daily as recommended by dentists and many more have either never heard of dental floss or have not adopted the habit of using it.
FMT spoke to dentist Dr Meera Asokan to learn more about the dental problems she encounters in her patients. Here are five of the most common.
1. Root caries
Caries, more commonly known as tooth decay or cavities, is a bacterial infection that erodes the hard tissues in the mouth.
It is caused by the production of acid that is released by the process of fermentation when food debris is lodged in between one’s teeth.
Normally, saliva and toothpaste are enough to dislodge these stubborn pieces of food, but in the event the food is deeply lodged in a hard-to-reach spot, the acid produced may prove a problem.
The acid can wear out a person’s gums, which in turn will expose the root of one’s teeth, causing a whole host of problems in itself.
Root caries can often be attributed to poor oral hygiene as well as insufficient saliva due to a condition called dry mouth.
The gums around the base of your teeth, also known as the gingiva, can become inflamed as part of a dental problem called gingivitis.
Gingivitis is commonly caused by bacterial plaque accumulating between and around the teeth, which triggers an immune response.
This immune response will consequently lead to the destruction of gum tissue, which could then result in the loss of teeth.
Symptoms of gingivitis include bright red or purple gums, pain when gums are touched, bad breath and swelling of the gums.
Early treatment of gingivitis is advisable as it is relatively mild when compared to periodontitis which can affect the root of your teeth and even the bone below.
3. Dry mouth
While drool is commonly seen as unsightly, it is a medical fact that saliva is an important part of the mouth, as it moistens and cleanses the mouth while aiding in digestion.
When your mouth does not produce enough saliva, the environment becomes dry and uncomfortable, resulting in a condition known as dry mouth or xerostomia.
Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors, including medication or treatment side effects, certain diseases, nerve damage, an unhealthy lifestyle or simply, dehydration.
It is impossible not to notice this problem as you will have a sticky, dry feeling in your mouth as well as constant thirst and a dry, red and raw tongue.
Without saliva to protect your mouth from infection, your mouth and teeth will be highly vulnerable and it makes wearing dentures something of a nightmare.
4. Denture stomatitis
It is not uncommon for elderly Malaysians to depend on dentures as they age. However, those who are fitted with dentures are at risk of contracting denture stomatitis, known as thrush.
Denture stomatitis is a condition caused by a yeast called candida, a fungus that can be found in everyone’s mouths.
However, thrush which is a yeast infection, occurs when a person does not keep their dentures clean, mostly due to age-related reasons or simply, lack of knowledge.
The symptoms of denture stomatitis are not as obvious as other dental problems, but on closer examination, a dentist will notice the reddish and swollen mouth lining.
While this may not seem serious, treatment is advisable simply because if left unchecked, denture stomatitis may lead to poorly fitting dentures in the near future.
5. Mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers are annoyingly common, and they make eating one’s favourite spicy or sour foods something of a nightmare.
Sometimes called canker sores, mouth ulcers are small but painful lesions that appear in one’s mouth and often cause an uncomfortable sensation.
They are thankfully not contagious and will often go off within a fortnight, but if they persist, a quick visit to the dentist would be a wise decision.
There are several causes behind mouth ulcers, including mouth injuries, allergic responses, emotional stress and infections.
While most mouth ulcers are not serious enough to require treatment and can be attended to by home remedies, huge ulcers that impede one’s daily life are a cause for concern and medical attention.