5 Common Dental Problems and How Dentists Fix Them

November 30, 2021

The best way to protect your oral health is by booking yourself in for regular dental appointments and sticking to a rigorous dental hygiene routine. Flushing and brushing at least twice a day can help keep bad bacteria at bay, and prevent common dental problems from developing.

Unfortunately, sometimes dental complications still occur like periodontal disease, knocked out teeth, and dry sockets after a tooth extraction.

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1. What Are Dry Sockets & How Are They Treated?

A dry socket (alveolar osteitis) can form following the extraction of a tooth. Normally, a blood clot would form at the site of the tooth extraction, creating a protective layer over the underlying bone and nerve endings within the empty tooth socket. But, when this blood clot fails to form, is dislodged, or dissolves before the wound has healed, you end up with a dry socket.  When this happens, the bone is exposed, causing severe pain that can radiate up to your ear, eye, temple, or neck, bad breath, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. 

Your dentist will treat a dry socket by irrigating the site (flushing it), then packing the extraction site with either a resorbable or non-resorbable dressing. You will be instructed to maintain good oral hygiene, and told when to remove the packed dressing if it is non-resorbable. They may also use postoperative analgesics such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen), combined with low-dose narcotics (like codeine) to help control the pain. 

2. How Are Gappy Teeth Fixed? 

A diastema or gap between your teeth is quite a common occurrence. While it can occur anywhere in the mouth, it most commonly occurs between your two front teeth. There are several ways that a dentist may treat a gap, and they include:

  • If you have a lot of gapping between more than a few teeth, both traditional dental braces, and Invisalign are a good way to even the teeth out.
  • Dental bonding can be used to apply a tooth-colored resin to the gapped area. It is hardened using ultraviolet light or laser and is shaped/trimmed to fill in smaller spaces.
  • Veneers can also be used to fill in both small and large gaps. Porcelain veneers are great for larger gaps as they are durable and strong. Composite veneers can be used to fill in gaps that are 1-3mm in size. 
  • If the gapping is occurring due to shifting teeth, a retainer can be used to align them. While this is one of the least expensive routes to go, you may be required to wear a retainer permanently if the teeth continue to shift.
  • Dental implants can also be used to fill in gaps between teeth if the gaps are incredibly large. A dental implant can anchor a crown, bridge, or denture in place to fill in the area. 

3. I Keep Getting Canker Sores – Dental Remedies?

A canker sore is a small, shallow aphthous ulcer that develops inside the mouth, either on the inner cheek(s), on the inside of your lips, or around the outer edges of your tongue. They are not contagious and are normally first noticed by the sharp pain or tingling sensation you get from them. They are white or yellow, oval-shaped, and are surrounded by inflamed tissue.  While they can heal without treatment within 1-3 weeks, sometimes serious canker sores need extra remedies.

When over-the-counter topical products like Orajel aren’t enough, your dentist may prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or prescription mouthwash which will help reduce bacteria or inflammation and pain respectively.  In some cases, a topical corticosteroid may be given to reduce severe swelling and pain. 

4. What Is Periodontal Disease and How Do Dentists Prevent It?

Also known as gum disease, this is a serious infection of the gums that causes inflammation and damage to the soft gum tissue. Called gingivitis in the early stages, your gums may bleed, be tender to touch, be swollen, and red. As it progresses, the gums can pull away from your teeth, allowing bacteria to get inside and cause bone loss. Symptoms include receding gums, blood during brushing and flossing, bad breath, tender gums, inflammation, loose teeth, and changes to how your teeth fit together. 

If your periodontitis isn’t in an advanced stage, then your dentist may perform:

  • Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from your teeth’ surfaces, and below the gum line.
  • Root planing smooths out your root surfaces to discourage the buildup of tartar and bacteria.
  • Medication, such as topical antibiotics through mouth rinses or through the insertion of gels between the teeth and below the gums, or if needed, stronger oral antibiotics.

If you have severe periodontitis, then surgical treatments may be required to treat you. 

  • Flap surgery allows your dentist to pull back a section of gum tissue away from your tooth, to expose the roots for a more effective scaling and root planing procedure. This will also allow them to get a look at the underlying bone to see if it needs to be recontoured. Your gums are then sutured back in place, making it easier for you to maintain them. This is also known as pocket reduction surgery, as it allows your gum to re-adhere itself to the tooth after cleaning.
  • Soft tissue grafting is done when you lose too much gum tissue. A small amount of tissue is taken either from a donor source or from the roof of your mouth and is attached to the affected site to reinforce the damaged gum tissue. 

Other surgical treatment options include bone grafting to help keep teeth in place and prevent tooth loss, guided tissue regeneration which helps regrow lost bone, and tissue-stimulating proteins (gel) which is applied to a diseased tooth root. 

5. I Knocked Out a Tooth, Can It Be Saved?

If you have knocked out a permanent tooth, it can be saved with a tooth replantation procedure.  During this procedure, an oral surgeon or dentist will reinsert your tooth and splint it.  It works as follows:

  • You will be administered a local anesthetic which will numb your gums.
  • You may be given antibiotic medication to reduce your risk of infection, and a cold compress to reduce swelling. If your gum is lacerated, you may be given stitches.
  • The avulsed tooth will then be reinserted into the socket.
  • It will be anchored into the socket with a splint which is made from wire and composite resin. 
  • The splint will hold your tooth in place for 2-6 weeks. You may be asked to come back in for dental checks during these weeks.
  • The dentist will then remove the splint and examine the tooth for stability.

The caveat here is when the tooth is knocked out, it must be preserved under proper conditions. When handling the tooth, only pick it up by the crown (top part), and do not touch the root. Rinse it off in cold running water (no more than 10 seconds), and then either place it back into the socket or into a glass of milk, a container with your saliva or hold it against your inner cheek. Do not clean or brush the tooth or rinse it with any chemicals. Get to the dentist as quickly as possible (ideally in 30-minutes) as rapid treatment increases replantation success.

At Tampa Palms Dentistry we know any dental problem that is in its initial stage is easy to control and treat, so it’s important to get you in the office as quickly as possible. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while or need to schedule an appointment contact us or give us a call at (813) 333-1922.

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