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Common Dental Problems

At Smiles by the Sea Del Mar, we believe that patient education is one of the keys to helping our patients maintain good oral health and radiant smiles for a lifetime. This is why we provide our patients with comprehensive information not only about the procedures we offer at our practice, but also about the common dental problems  of which they should be aware so that they can seek treatment immediately at our Del Mar, CA practice if they experience symptoms. Knowledge can indeed be power, especially when it comes to preserving the health of your teeth and gums.

The dental problems detailed on this page represent just a few of the most common issues we encounter regularly at Smiles by the Sea Del Mar. If you experience any tooth pain that does not subside within an hour of brushing and flossing your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Robert Kim or Dr. Tim Carpenter to have your mouth examined. It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your oral health.

If you haven’t had a comprehensive oral exam and professional cleaning within the past year, then it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with us even if you feel that your mouth is perfectly healthy. We can help you avoid these common dental problems. And if you’re experiencing any of these dental problems, we can provide you with effective solutions. Either way, please contact Smiles by the Sea Del Mar to schedule your appointment today.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is most often the result of exposed dentin, the layer of the tooth that lies directly beneath the outermost enamel layer above the gum line and the outermost cementum layer below the gum line. These outermost protective layers are extremely strong, but they can become worn, eroded, or damaged by trauma, decay, or disease. Dentin is far more delicate; it contains microscopic tubes that serve as passageways to nerves within the tooth. As various sensations – hot and cold temperatures in particular – reach these nerves, you may feel twinges of discomfort or even pain.

The treatment for tooth sensitivity depends on the extent of your enamel or cementum erosion. If your enamel is only beginning to erode, you may be able to improve your condition by simply combining in-office fluoride treatments with the use of a special desensitizing toothpaste, applied to the teeth with gentle force and a soft-bristled toothbrush. For more extensive damage, restorative dentistry treatments such as tooth-colored fillings and dental crowns may come into play. In cases of root canal infections or advanced gum disease, oral surgery may be recommended.

By taking tooth sensitivity seriously and seeking treatment when you first experience it, you improve the chances that it can be treated conservatively, without the need for more invasive procedures.

Chronic Teeth Grinding

Clinically known as bruxism, chronic teeth grinding can contribute to a multitude of health problems, from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and head, neck, and shoulder pain to enamel erosion, tooth fractures, and even gum disease. Many people are unaware that they are grinding their teeth, as they do it unconsciously while they are sleeping. However, the physical symptoms, along with symptoms such as constant fatigue and drowsiness, are surefire signs.

Once bruxism has been diagnosed, it can usually be effectively treated through a combination of therapies. Many patients benefit from lifestyle changes; improvements in diet and exercise routines can help, while people who smoke and consume alcohol in moderate to large quantities often experience relief from their symptoms when they abandon their habits. Relaxation techniques and meditation have also proven effective among those who deal with high levels of stress.

Our dentists can also provide custom night guards to patients who struggle with bruxism. These night guards are crafted to fit comfortably in the mouth so that patients can sleep peacefully while their upper and lower teeth are shielded from the impact of continually being ground into each other. Because patients are unable to clench their jaws in the same manner when they sleep with these night guards, they usually wake up feeling more refreshed, with less facial pain and muscle aches.

Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

These two common dental problems often go hand in hand. Dry mouth syndrome can be caused by many possible factors, including certain medications, dehydration, poor diet, caffeine consumption, smoking, infections, and certain diseases and health conditions. While some of these factors are beyond a patient’s control, most can be improved with lifestyle changes. It is worth making these changes, too, as dry mouth syndrome increases the risk of such oral health problems as gum disease, tooth decay, infections of the mouth, sore throats, enamel erosion, and – yes – bad breath.

Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is generally the function of an identifiable oral health issue such as dry mouth syndrome. It can also be the result of poor oral health routines, gum disease, and mouth infections. Usually, once such issues are addressed, the patient’s breath will improve measurably. If bad breath persists despite good oral health, then it may be indicative of an underlying general health problem, and a visit to a physician would be in order.

Malocclusion

Malocclusion, or a “bad bite,” refers to problems with the manner in which the upper and lower teeth meet when you close your mouth. Ideally, the biting surfaces of your upper and lower teeth should fit together perfectly, with the cusps of the opposite-facing teeth complementing each other. When the teeth do not meet properly, strain is placed on the jaw when you bite, chew, speak, or even close your mouth. Malocclusion can lead to jaw pain and increased wear and tear on the teeth, the jaw muscles, and the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect your lower jaw to your skull.

It is usually possible to treat minor to moderate cases of malocclusion using the Invisalign® clear orthodontics system, a cosmetically appealing alternative to traditional metal braces. In cases of more severe malocclusion, traditional orthodontic appliances or even jaw surgery may be recommended.

Sometimes malocclusion occurs as a result of poorly executed or failing dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns. If you are experiencing such an issue, Dr. Kim or Dr. Moeckel can replace your current restorative work and restore your bite to a more comfortable state.

Cavities

Cavities remain one of the most prevalent oral health problems among children and adults alike, especially those who consume a lot of sugary and acidic foods and liquids. These foods and liquids lead to bacterial buildup on the teeth, which can be particularly problematic if a person does not brush or floss properly. Bacteria will eat away at the protective enamel layer, causing the underlying dentin to become exposed. The dentin is far more easily damaged by destructive elements that are introduced into the mouth, which is why it is so important to have cavities treated in their earliest possible stages. Once a hole or crevice develops in the vulnerable dentin layer of a tooth, it is only a matter of time before it spreads to the root canal and the dental pulp becomes infected.

Fortunately, cavities are relatively simple to treat when detected early. Our dentists can simply remove the damaged portion of the tooth and replace it with a tooth-colored filling, inlay, or onlay. For larger cavities, they can cover the entire visible surface area of the tooth with a custom-crafted dental crown, which will restore its strength and structural integrity while protecting it from further harm.

For patients who visit our practice at least twice a year, cavities are generally a marginal concern. Through professional cleanings, we are able to remove the plaque bacteria that have hardened into tartar, a substance that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone. We can also use our advanced DIAGNOdent® laser to diagnose and treat even the smallest cavities before they have the opportunity to do any significant damage to the teeth.

Learn More about Common Dental Problems

If you would like to learn more about common dental problems and how you can avoid them by attending regular appointments at Smiles by the Sea Del Mar, please contact our general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry practice today. We are pleased to provide solutions to common dental problems to patients from throughout San Diego County, including the students and faculty from the nearby campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

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