While tooth decay and gum disease account for the majority of restorative dental treatments, they are not the only dental problems. Unfortunately, there are other things that can go wrong with your mouth. Luckily, your general dentist is able to identify, diagnose, and treat a range of dental problems besides tooth decay and gum disease. Here are a few:
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Teeth grinding and clenching are detrimental behaviors caused by stress. Clenching occurs when the teeth are pressed against one another with force and grinding adds a sideways motion of moving the teeth over one another. Both behaviors often occur unconsciously while sleeping, which can make it hard to identify. However, your dentist can diagnose grinding and clenching because it leaves marks on your teeth and can cause premature enamel wear or damage as time goes one. Therefore, a night guard will likely be recommended.
Oral thrush is a yeast infection that occurs inside the mouth. It is a type of fungal infection that looks like a white film and can easily be treated with medications. Oral thrush is not common in most people, however it can affect people with compromised immune systems. People with HIV/AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, dentures, or who take steroids are at an increased risk of developing oral thrush.
Wisdom Tooth Impaction
It is an unfortunate fact the most wisdom teeth do not erupt properly. In fact, it is highly common for wisdom teeth to become impacted, or unable to erupt fully from the gum line. A partial impaction is when part of the tooth has erupted, while a complete impaction is where the entire tooth is below the gums. A wisdom tooth impaction often causes extreme discomfort and pain, especially towards the back of the mouth and in the jaw. The gums may also be red, swollen, and tender. Most cases of wisdom teeth impactions are treated by extracting the problematic teeth.
Teeth can chip when they absorb a great amount of force. This can occur when biting down on hard foods or objects, as well as when grinding or clenching your teeth. Being hit in the face or mouth while playing sports is another common cause of chipped teeth. When a tooth is chipped, it can be repaired by reshaping the enamel or adding composite material to fill in the missing piece.
While a chipped tooth is one of the most common dental injuries, teeth can also fracture, or crack. Unfortunately, the same things that can cause a tooth to chip can also cause it to crack. When a tooth is fractured, your dentist will likely restore it using a dental crown. However, severe tooth fractures may require an extraction.
A Dark Tooth
When a single tooth undergoes trauma, it may change color. A tooth that is slightly darker in color or that is a pinkish color is generally protecting the nerve. However, a tooth that is grey or black in color is likely dead or dying. A darkened tooth accompanied by pain, swelling, and tooth sensitivity is also a sign of a pulp infection. Teeth that have died or teeth with pulp infections must be restored with a root canal.