Did you know that there are other dental problems besides tooth decay and gum disease? Although these are two of the most commonly occurring dental problems, they are not the only oral health concerns out there. In fact, there are various other dental problems that your general dentist can diagnose and treat, including:
Bruxism is the term used to describe teeth grinding and/or clenching. Teeth grinding is when you grit your teeth together and move them sideways against one another, while clenching is when you bite down extremely hard. Both these behaviors are usually caused by stress and are performed at night while you sleep. Overtime, bruxism can cause your enamel to become prematurely worn or even damaged. In some cases, bruxism can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). To alleviate bruxism and protect your teeth and jaw, general dentists usually prescribe a nightguard.
Chips in the teeth can range from barely noticeable to an entire piece of the tooth missing. Common causes of a chipped tooth include: biting down on hard foods or objects, getting hit in the face or mouth during a sporting event, any accident involving the face, or teeth grinding and clenching. Small chips may be able to be treated by reshaping the enamel, while larger chips will often need to be filled in with a composite material.
Just as teeth can chip, they can also crack or fracture. In most cases, the same things that cause chips can also result in a cracked tooth. A cracked tooth is generally restored with a dental crown, however severe cracks may require the tooth to be extracted.
A tooth is said to be impacted when it is unable to completely erupt from below the gum line. This is a common complication of wisdom teeth due to the lack of space in the mouth. Wisdom teeth can be either partially or completely impacted. With a partial impaction, part of the tooth is visible above the gum line, while a tooth that is completely impacted is entirely under the gums. Both types of impactions cause pain, swelling, and gum tenderness and are usually treated by extracting the impacted teeth.
Oral thrush looks like a white film throughout the mouth and can have a yeasty smell. It is a type of fungal infection, specifically yeast. Oral thrush is most common in individuals who wear dentures or who have HIV/AIDS, cancer, uncontrolled diabetes, or who are on steroids. Simply stated, oral thrush is more likely to affect individuals with a compromised immune system. Most cases of oral thrush can be effectively treated with medications.
If you have one tooth that suddenly darkens or changes color, your tooth is likely recovering from trauma. A tooth can turn dark when trying to protect the nerve and can look slightly pink. However, if your tooth turns grey this can be an indication that your tooth has died. Additionally, if a darkened tooth is accompanied by pain and sensitivity, it could indicate a pulp infection. A dark tooth will only require treatment if there is a pulp infection or if the tooth is dead. Both cases will require a root canal to restore the tooth.
Dr. Martin is a highly skilled dentist of 16 years, and a graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry. During this time, he has placed over 500 implants and maintains his skills by taking more CE courses than required by the State Board each year.