Some people get lazy when it comes to dental hygiene as they get older, but it’s important to take good care of your teeth throughout your life. In fact, some people who have near-perfect teeth throughout their childhood and teenage years end up facing multiple problems later in life. Learning which dental problems are most common can help you protect yourself against them—and recognize them if they start happening to you.
The Most Common Dental Problems in Adulthood
These are some of the most common problems you may see as an adult:
1. Misalignment. As you grow and age, your teeth will be constantly adjusting. That means even if your teeth were perfectly straight as a teenager, they may eventually become misaligned when you’re an adult. In many cases, this misalignment is purely cosmetic, resulting in a crooked smile or an unpleasant feel in your mouth. Other times, misalignment may result in pain or other oral conditions. Either way, you’ll have the option of using Invisalign to gradually, painlessly, and invisibly adjust your teeth back to where they should be.
2. Bad breath. Bad breath can have many root causes, but it always has something to do with your mouth, including your tongue and your teeth. Brushing your teeth regularly, scrubbing your tongue, flossing, and using mouthwash can all help you control the symptoms of bad breath, unless there’s a secondary cause (like gum disease) which your good habits can’t directly control.
3. Cavities. Tooth decay occurs gradually over time, usually when teeth aren’t adequately maintained with healthy habits. If the decay goes untreated long enough, it will result in the formation of cavities, which are holes in your teeth that can increase in size and severity. More than 92 percent of adults have had at least one cavity during their life. If cavities are allowed to grow worse, without being filled, they can eventually reach the root of your tooth, at which point you may need a root canal or tooth extraction to avoid the development of abscesses. Fortunately, if caught early, cavities can usually be treated with a simple filling in a single appointment.
4. Gum disease. Gum disease is an umbrella term for any infection of the gums that surround your teeth. Though anyone can acquire gum disease, adults over the age of 30 are at higher risk. You’ll also be at higher risk of gum disease if you smoke, if you suffer from dry mouth, or if you have diabetes. Gum disease occurs in two stages: gingivitis and periodontist. If you catch gum disease early, you can avoid most further complications (which include tooth loss).
5. Gum recession. Gum recession is an irreversible process that occurs gradually over time, frequently when adults aggressively brush their teeth. Over time, the gums sustain damage, and slowly recede, exposing more of the tooth (and eventually the root of the tooth). This creates more pockets where bacteria can form, and in extreme cases, can completely expose the root of your tooth. In advanced cases, where untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
6. Tooth trauma and dental emergencies. It’s also common for adults to suffer from some kind of dental trauma; for example, they may fall down and chip a tooth on the pavement, or suffer a cracked tooth when biting down on something hard. The structural integrity of your teeth will likely decline over time, making you more vulnerable to these emergencies.
7. Oral cancer. Though not as common as something like bad breath or cavities, oral cancer is common enough that you need to be aware of it. Millions of people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, and it’s estimated that someone in the United States dies from oral cancer every hour. It most commonly occurs in adults over the age of 40. It occurs more frequently in people who smoke or use chewing tobacco, and in those who drink alcohol excessively. Oral cancer is highly treatable if caught early.
The Importance of Regular Checkups
The best thing you can do to stave off most of these dental problems is practicing good dental hygiene—i.e., brushing, flossing, and rinsing with anticavity mouthwash on a daily basis. Aside from that, the best thing to do is attend regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist. This is your chance to catch problems early, before they have a chance to get any worse. You’ll also get a chance to talk to your dentist about your habits, including ways you could potentially improve them.
See also:Homemade Teeth Whitening.
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