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A Comprehensive Oral Health Guide to Common Problems and Solutions

It's important to keep your mouth healthy

We often don't consider oral health when we think about our overall health. But the reality is that the health of your mouth can directly affect your general health and your quality of life.

That's why we invite you to read our selection of articles about a wide range of oral health topics—so you can be your healthiest self. You'll find information on:

  • Common problems and solutions related to oral health
  • What you can do to improve your oral health
  • When to see a dentist

We hope that by reading these articles, you'll be able to keep your mouth healthy and thus live a better and happier life.

Ask a dentist: How does oral health affect overall health?

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Good dental health is more than clean teeth and avoiding cavities. The mouth is a gateway to your body's overall health.

Besides cavities, poor dental hygiene can have a profound impact on your health and longevity. There is mounting evidence that shows an association between poor dental hygiene and a wide variety of illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums affects more than just your smile. Take care of your mouth and your body!

Dr. Angela Evanson, Angela Evanson DDS

Tooth decay

We start this list off with one of the most prevalent problems associated with oral health; tooth decay and cavities. Tooth decay is something that most people will deal with at some point in their lives, even though it's a problem that's largely preventable.

You can read all about tooth decay causes, symptoms and prevention in our full guide. We'll go over the basics of limiting your chances of getting tooth decay, but we'll also talk about what to do if you are one of the many people whose teeth have cavities.

Tooth abscess

Tooth pain could be caused by an abscess

If you have a healthy oral hygiene routine, then you are already minimising your chances of having a tooth abscess. But unfortunately, it's still something you should be aware of in case it happens to you.

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms when a bacterial infection breaks down surrounding tissue, and it can be extremely painful and cause irreversible damage. Learn how to recognize the symptoms of this issue by reading our guide to dental abscesses, so you can get to the dentist for proper treatment and possibly antibiotics which you can learn all about in our full guide.


The reality is that most of us will suffer from toothache at some point in our lives, if not multiple times. A toothache can be a result of infection or a damaged tooth, or it can be a side effect of dental work like a tooth extraction.

Whatever the cause of your toothache, you'll want to know how to get rid of it fast. Thankfully, you can read our article on toothache causes and treatment to find out if you need to get to a dentist for urgent care.

If you need some relief while you're waiting to see a dentist, or if you're experiencing pain while recovering from recent dental work, you'll want read our article about home remedies for toothache. This explains what you can do to relieve tooth pain at home, including some natural solutions.

Tooth extraction

You may need a tooth pulled for a healthier smile

There are many reasons why you might need to have a tooth extraction, but none of them make the idea sound very appealing. If you do need to have a tooth taken out, however, you're not alone, as this is a procedure that most people have to experience at some point in their lives.

To help you feel more prepared for your tooth removal, have a look at our tooth extraction guide, and you'll learn all about the process, recovery, and ways to make it all go as smoothly as possible.

And if you're considering pulling your own tooth at home, especially while it's difficult to see a dentist during the pandemic, you might want to read up on the risks first.

Dry socket

Perhaps the worst complication that can occur after a tooth extraction is dry socket. Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that is supposed to protect the bone at the bottom of your empty tooth socket doesn't form or is disrupted. This can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are preventable. For instance, after a tooth extraction, you will be instructed not to smoke or use a straw, because the sucking motion can cause the blood clot to dislodge.

If you do have dry socket, you'll know about it, because it is extremely painful. Get in to see a dentist ASAP so they can help you fix the problem and relieve your pain. You can read more about dry socket, how to prevent it and how to treat it in our dry socket article.

Bleeding gums

If you've noticed some redness along your gumline, or even bleeding when you brush your teeth or floss, you're probably wondering why this is happening, and what you can do to remedy it. Bleeding gums can be caused by a whole host of things, and this isn't something that you should simply ignore.

What's more, it may be fairly easy to treat, simply by improving your brushing technique, or by adding flossing to your oral hygiene routine. You can learn all about how to stop bleeding gums here, and get on the road to better oral and overall health.


If you let your bleeding gums go untreated, you may develop gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Gingivitis is fairly common, but this doesn't mean that it should be ignored. That's because it can turn into a more serious condition, periodontitis, which might eventually result in the loss of teeth and bone deterioration in your jaw.

Would you like find out more about gingivitis, including what you can do to treat the situation so it doesn't turn into something worse? Read our article about gum disease causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Receding gums

When gum disease progresses, it may cause your gums to recede, exposing some of your tooth roots. This can lead to sensitivity and pain, and of course it doesn't look great when you smile. Eventually, teeth can become loose and fall out if gums recede too far.

If you notice your gums receding, you should visit a dentist for a full checkup. You'll probably need to have your teeth cleaned professionally, and you may need a gum graft to repair some of the tissue. You can read our article on how to stop receding gums for more information about causes and possible treatments.

Mouth ulcers

ulcer on lips

Mouth ulcers, also known as canker sores, are a fairly common oral health problem which most of us experience from time to time. You probably know that they aren't any fun to deal with, and they can make talking and eating a painful chore.

Normally, a canker sore is nothing to worry about and will disappear in a few days on its own. But sometimes, a mouth ulcer—or a mouth full of them—can indicate a more serious health problem. Either way, our full guide to mouth ulcer causes, symptoms and treatment has a lot more helpful information.

Oral Herpes

Oftentimes, mouth ulcers or canker sores are caused by the herpes virus. Oral herpes is often associated with cold sores on the outsides of lips, but they can also appear on the tongue and the roof of your mouth. While oral herpes isn't life-threatening, it can cause major discomfort and can be transferred to other people by sharing utensils and kissing. Find out more about oral herpes, how to prevent it, and how to manage it if you do have it in our article that discusses herpes on the tongue.

Wisdom teeth

They're called wisdom teeth because they appear later than your other teeth, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. Unfortunately their appearance doesn't guarantee wisdom, and the lucky people who naturally don't have any wisdom teeth are not any less wise!

They're also called third molars in the medical world, and may or may not cause you problems. Some people can live their whole lives without having to get their wisdom teeth taken out, but for many, wisdom teeth can become impacted and require extraction. You can read more about wisdom teeth problems and what to do about them in our detailed article.

If you do experience wisdom tooth pain, that's a definite sign that you should go see your dentist. It may be that it's normal pain caused by eruption, or it could be that there's no room for them to grow in, in which case they'll need to be removed. Read more about wisdom tooth pain to help you figure out why you might be experiencing it, and what you can do about it.

And if you do have to have those third molars removed, our guide to wisdom tooth removal recovery will help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. You might need a day or two off work, but there's plenty you can do to make your recovery go smoothly and avoid complications.


What is pulpitis? It's is the medical name for inflamed dental pulp tissue. If you are experiencing this condition, it can potentially be quite painful. Fortunately, pulpitis is usually treatable and reversible, especially when caught early on.

In our pulpitis guide you can learn all about the various types of pulpitis, what causes it, and how your dentist will diagnose it. We also explain the treatment options and how to avoid pulpitis in future.

Dead Tooth

A tooth can die when the blood supply of a tooth is disrupted, and stops the tooth’s ability to live. This is usually caused by trauma or decay. Some of the most common symptoms you may experience include: toothache, sensitivity, discoloration and infection. Just because you have a dead tooth, it doesn’t mean that you will have to have that tooth extracted; in fact, it’s better if you can keep the teeth. Often root canal treatment can save the tooth.

Even if your dead tooth isn’t causing you any pain, it shouldn’t be ignored and you should see a dentist as soon as you notice any symptoms. Otherwise, if left untreated, an infection could spread to your other teeth, your jawbone and even to other parts of your body. You can read our full article about dead tooth causes and symptoms for more information.

Loose Teeth

Loose teeth are a regular part of early childhood, but when it happens as an adult, it's cause for concern. A loose tooth can come from injury or even gum disease. Having a loose tooth doesn't necessarily mean you're going to lose it, but you should seek dental care immediately to give your tooth the best chance to remain in place. Read more about what causes loose teeth here.

Tooth resorption

Tooth resorption is a relatively rare condition in adults. It happens when the body's cells begin to eat away at the structure of your teeth. There are various types of tooth resorption and some potentially severe health consequences if left untreated. Thankfully, it is a condition that can be treated, either with the removal of the affected cells or extraction if the damage is wide spread. You can read more about tooth resorption for full details.

Sensitive teeth

Do you have sensitive teeth?

Are you finding it painful to eat ice cream, or to enjoy your steaming hot morning coffee? If so, you are probably experiencing tooth sensitivity. Sensitive teeth are relatively common and can be caused by worn down enamel, damage to a tooth, and exposed tooth roots, just to name a few.

It may be that a simple change in toothpaste will help make your symptoms go away, or it may be that your sensitive teeth are the sign of a more serious issue that will need to be treated by your dentist. Read our article about sensitive teeth causes and treatment and learn when to see your dentist.


Bruxism, more commonly referred to as teeth grinding, is when you clench or grind your teeth involuntarily. This may not sound like a big deal, but over time it can damage your teeth, cause stress in your jaw, and also cause headaches.

If you do grind your teeth, you may not even know you're doing it, but it could explain those headaches you've been having, or the reason why your jaw has been so sore of late. To find out more about bruxism and if this condition affects you, read our teeth grinding article.

Dry mouth

Xerostomia, more commonly known as ‘dry mouth', occurs when you don't produce enough saliva. For some people it's a mild annoyance; for others it's a chronic condition that leads to sleepless nights and serious dental problems.

Just as numerous as the symptoms are the causes of dry mouth, which you can read more about in our full article. The good news is that it can be quite simple to alleviate the problem by switching medicines or making a few lifestyle changes. Even if it's a permanent problem, there are products that can help reduce the symptoms and the affect it has on your life.

Mouth taping and mouth breathing

Mouth breathing is something that many people do without thinking about it, but the truth is, breathing through your mouth isn't the ideal way to breathe. Additionally, you might breathe through your mouth while you're sleeping, and not even know it. If you are a mouth breather, you should actively address the issue, consulting with your doctor if necessary.

One of the most common ways to treat mouth breathing is with mouth tape. Mouth tape is specially made for this purpose. It tapes your mouth closed at night, but don't worry, it's easy enough to open your mouth with it on if you can't breathe through your nose for some reason, and it also has vents so that air can always get into your system. Read more about how to stop mouth breathing and mouth taping as a potential solution.

Oral Thrush

Our bodies and our mouths are full of bacteria and fungi that are critical for our health. But sometimes, our systems can get thrown out of whack and these essential organisms overgrow to an amount that is no longer healthy. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and most of the time, it isn't an indication of more severe health problems. However, it also happens with greater frequency in those who have compromised immune systems.

One of the yeast fungi living inside us is called Candida albicans. Candida albicans causes both vaginal and oral yeast infections, and orally it's called oral thrush. It might sound like a scary idea, but oral thrush is easily treatable for the most part, whether with home remedies or a prescription from your doctor. Our full article has more about oral thrush symptoms, prevention, and treatment.

Emergency dental care

Make sure to see a dentist for an emergency

A dental emergency can happen to anyone, so it's important to know how to deal with it. Whether you're experiencing extreme pain, loss of a permanent tooth, the loss of a crown, or a serious infection, it's important that you get in to see a dentist ASAP.

You can read our emergency dentist article to find out what constitutes a dental emergency, what to do if you have one, and ways to ease pain until you can get in to see your dentist.

Enamel repair & remineralization

If you have weakened enamel, cavities or decay, you may want to consider remineralizing your teeth. Remineralizing teeth will help make them stronger, and can even reverse early decay if caught at the very beginning of the process.

There are various things you can do to remineralize your teeth and strengthen your enamel, like using a special toothpaste, or adjusting your diet to avoid foods that can damage your enamel. To find out more about tooth remineralization and how you can have stronger teeth, read our full guide to enamel repair and remineralization.

Smoking and vaping

We all know that smoking is bad for you and can have numerous negative health effects. It's also no secret that smoking can be just as bad for your oral health as your overall health. And, although not life-threatening, there are the notorious smokers' teeth, that yellow-brown tinge that comes from years of smoking anything with nicotine.

Many people, in total good faith, switch to vaping in search of a healthier alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, we're now finding out that there are many adverse effects when it comes to vaping as well. And yes, vaping is also bad for your teeth and your oral health. And since vapes usually have nicotine, they can turn your teeth yellow too! The best solution is to quit smoking, but we also understand that that is a lot to ask. So if you aren't ready to quit yet, make sure to take absolutely excellent care of your teeth, and visit the dentist at least twice a year for early diagnosis of any problems.

Tetracycline teeth

Tetracycline teeth are teeth that are grey or brown, caused by taking tetracycline medications during childhood. There are various levels of severity of tetracycline staining, the most severe of which cause serious aesthetic problems. This condition can be treated with professional teeth whitening, but more severe cases require veneers or even crowns. Read our tetracycline teeth article here for more information.

Translucent teeth

Translucent teeth aren't stained necessarily, instead they are literally sort of see-through. This happens when the protective enamel coating on the outside of the tooth wears away.

Not only are translucent teeth not as visually appealing as teeth with healthy enamel, but they can also cause problems with oral health. One of the most common oral health problems that accompany translucent teeth is greater tooth sensitivity. But translucent teeth can also lead to problems like decay and infection.

Number of teeth

Do you know how many teeth you have? Do you know how many teeth you are supposed to have? The normal number of teeth for adults is between 28 and 32 teeth. If you have 28 teeth, it might mean that you’ve had your wisdom teeth taken out, or maybe you are one of those lucky people that never got wisdom teeth in the first place.

If you’ve had to have other teeth extracted due to overcrowding, trauma or severe decay, then you also probably have fewer than 32 teeth. Read more about the number of teeth you have, how to number them and the different roles that each one plays in our article about the number of adult teeth, or check out some more dental facts about the number of teeth we have and more.

A Comprehensive Oral Health Guide to Common Problems and Solutions
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