As explained on the Oral Hygiene page, tooth decay, or caries, occurs when the bacteria on your teeth has a reaction with the starches and sugars from your diet. Foods such as candy, soft drinks, cookies, even fruit juices and others that are high in carbohydrates leave deposits on your teeth. If your teeth and gums are consistently exposed to large amounts of these starches and sugars, they are more at risk for developing plaque that, combined with the deposits from food, form acids that can eat away at tooth enamel, causing tooth decay. While it may not endanger your life, it will have a negative impact on your quality of life. The good news is that caries is a preventable disease.
Changes in temperature cause teeth to expand and contract. The difference in temperature of hot and cold food and beverages can cause pain or irritation in people with sensitive teeth. Eventually, their tooth enamel can wear down or gums may recede. Their teeth may also develop microscopic cracks, which expose the interior of the tooth, irritating nerve endings. People with extremely sensitive teeth can have discomfort just breathing cold air.
Similar to tooth decay, gum disease starts with plaque, a sticky film of bacteria. In the early stage of the disease, called gingivitis, gums can become red and swollen, and bleed easily. If it progresses to periodontitis, teeth may even fall out or a dentist may need to remove them. Gum disease can also cause bone damage. One sign of gum disease is consistent bad breath or having a bad taste in the mouth. This disease is also highly preventable and can be avoided with good oral hygiene practices, namely brushing and flossing.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
In addition to tooth decay and gum disease, bad breath can also be prevented by daily brushing and flossing. Without these practices, food particles that are left in the mouth start to deteriorate and, along with the buildup of plaque and bacteria, cause bad breath. You may be aware that certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, create bad breath temporarily, but consistent bad breath may be an indication of gum disease or another dental issue.
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) are small sores inside the mouth that can often come back. A canker sore has a base of white or gray surrounded by a red border. They generally last for one or two weeks, but the duration of canker sores can be reduced with the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes or topical agents.
A malocclusion – when a bite does not meet properly – is an example of an orthodontic problem. This trait can be inherited or some types may be acquired, sometimes caused by missing or extra teeth, crowded teeth, or misaligned jaws. They can also come as a result of accidents or developmental issues (such as finger or thumb-sucking over a long period of time).