But following these oral hygiene commandments isn't always enough. Many common oral-health problems, such as bad breath, tooth decay, erosion, receding gums, and mouth sores, can leave people feeling both physically uncomfortable and reluctant to smile. Fortunately, with the right treatments these embarrassing oral-health problems can be solved!
Treatment for bad breath, or halitosis, varies depending on the cause. Brushing and flossing is crucial since it helps keep food particles from collecting bacteria and rotting in your mouth. If your dentist gives you a clean bill of health, though, you'll need to investigate further.
Tooth Decay and Erosion
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly for exams and cleanings will help fight tooth decay and erosion. Your dentist may also recommend protective plastic sealants to reduce your risk of decay. Eating a balanced diet and keeping your snacking to a minimum will also help head off plaque and erosion. If you're particularly concerned about erosion, avoid acidic food and drinks, such as citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, pickles, soda, and sports drinks, since studies suggest that they can strip enamel from the teeth. Gastric acid can also contribute to erosion, so if you have a medical condition like acid-reflux disease or bulimia, getting treatment is imperative.
Gum recession and periodontal disease can have serious repercussions. Early stage gingivitis causes the gums to become red and swollen, and to bleed easily, while the more advanced periodontitis damages the gums and bones that support the teeth, causing them to loosen and fall out. The ADA recommends brushing, flossing, and keeping up with regular dental checkups and periodontal exams. Gum recession can also result from aggressive tooth brushing with medium or hard bristles, malpositioned teeth, or bad habits such as clenching, grinding, or scratching your gums with foreign objects, you can also help protect your gums by using an ultrasoft toothbrush and wearing a nightguard to reduce stress on your teeth if you tend to clench or grind at night.
Canker sores and cold sores are two of the most common sores that show up around the mouth. They can be painful, annoying, and unsightly. Cankers develop inside the mouth, while cold sores appear externally, usually on the edge of the lips. Fortunately, both of these types of sores tend to heal on their own within a week or so, and canker sores can be treated with over-the-counter topical anesthetics or antimicrobial mouth rinses to reduce discomfort. Topical anesthetics may also provide temporary relief for cold sores. If you're embarrassed by frequent cold-sore outbreaks, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for antiviral drugs that could help reduce infections from the herpes virus.