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Oral Health: Common Problems and Solutions For a Healthy Smile

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oral health
It's important to keep your mouth healthy

Often times we don't think about oral health when we think about our overall health. But the reality is, whether or not you have a healthy 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.

Tooth decay

We start this article off with one of the most prevalent problems associated with oral health—that is tooth decay and cavities. Tooth decay and cavities is something that most people will deal with at some point in their lives, even though both of these are largely preventable.

You can read all about tooth decay and cavities in our full guide to tooth decay. 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 who experience tooth decay and cavities.

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 abscess

tooth pain
Tooth pain could be caused by an abscess

If you have a healthy oral hygiene routine, then you are doing a great job of lowering your possibilities 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 a toothache, at least once, but probably multiple times during our lifetimes. A toothache can have various causes, such as infection, 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 and fast. Thankfully, you can read our article on toothache to learn what the causes might be and if you need to get to a dentist for treatment.

Sometimes you might have to wait to get in to see the dentist, or your toothache is the normal side effect of dental work and you just have to wait for it to heal. If you're experiencing a toothache at home, read our article about home remedies for toothaches, so you can get the pain relief you need as soon as possible.

Tooth extraction

women smiling
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. Don't try to pull your own tooth, as this can lead to even greater risks to your health.

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 it, because they are extremely painful. In the case of dry socket, get in to see a dentist ASAP so they can help you fix the problem and relieve your pain. You can read more about how to prevent dry socket in our full guide.

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 reasons, and 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 bleeding gums, causes and treatments in our bleeding gums guide 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 can even result in the loss of teeth and bone deterioration in your jaw.

To find out more about gingivitis, including what you can do to treat the situation so it doesn't turn into something worse, you can read our gingivitis, where you'll learn all about causes, symptoms, and treatment. For some, laser gum surgery is the best solution for treating gum disease.

Receding gums

If gingivitis is left untreated, it could lead to receding gums. This is a condition when gums pull back and expose tooth roots. It can be very painful and lead to all sorts of oral health problems including tooth decay. Find out about all of the causes of receding gums, how you can stop it in its tracks and how to fix receding gums in our full article.

Mouth ulcers

You may be familiar with mouth ulcers by their more common name—canker sores. And if you're familiar with them, then you know they aren't any fun to deal with, in fact, 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, it can indicate a more serious health problem. Either way, you can read all about canker sores—causes, symptoms, treatment and when to see a doctor—by reading our full guide to mouth ulcers.

Oral herpes

Often times, 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 mouth herpes article here.

Wisdom teeth

They're called wisdom teeth because they grow in later than your other teeth, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. (Although it could be argued whether one can really be considered wise anytime before the age of 40).

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 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 to do if you need it extracted.

If you do need your wisdom tooth to be extracted, you'll want to know how to recover properly. For this, you can read our wisdom teeth recovery guide.


Pulpitis 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.

If you're concerned about pulpitis, you can read our pulpitis guide here, and learn all about the various types of pulpitis, what causes it, how your dentist will diagnose it and most importantly your treatment options.

Dead tooth

A dead tooth is when the blood supply of a tooth is disrupted, and stops the tooth's ability to live. A dead tooth can be 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 doesn't mean that you will have to have that tooth extracted, in fact, it's better if you can keep the teeth; this can sometimes be done with a root canal.

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 think you have a dead tooth. 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 teeth now.

Sensitive teeth

man looking at teeth
Do you have sensitive teeth?

Are you finding it painful to bite into that icecream sandwich, or 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 and learn more about causes, treatment and when to see your dentist.

Remineralize teeth

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 the start of decay if caught at the very beginning of the process.

There are various things you can do to remineralize your teeth, like using a special toothpaste, or adjusting your diet to avoid foods that can damage your enamel. Enamel damage can also be a result of some eating disorders, causing conditions like bulimia teeth. To find out more about how to remineralize teeth and how you can have stronger teeth, read our full remineralization article.


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. Bruxism can be treated by a night guard while you sleep, including soft night guards and hard night guards. There are also night guards for TMJ.

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 here.

Loose tooth

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.

Emergency dental care

emergency dental
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 here 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.

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. 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.

Some people are born with extra teeth, while others end up having too few 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, and for more dental facts about the number of teeth we have and more, click here.

Dry mouth

Do you suffer from a mouth that seems too dry? Does it feel like your mouth has cotton in it sometimes? Dry mouth is something that most people will experience during their lives, but it isn't something you should have to deal with all the time. There are many things that can cause dry mouth, such as cancer treatment, thyroid disease, or even simple dehydration. Sometimes dry mouth can be an indication that you need to visit the dentist.

If you want to learn more about dry mouth, what causes it, and the best way to treat it, including toothpaste and mouthwashes, have a look at our dry mouth article. We include lots of tips that will help your mouth feel moisturized and refreshed again.

Oral thrush

Our bodies and our mouth are full of bacteria and yeast 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 those yeast 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. To find out more about oral thrush, including symptoms, prevention, and treatment, you can read our oral thrush article.

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 in our article.

Tetracycline teeth

Tetracycline teeth are teeth that are gray 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. Are you worried that you have or are developing translucent teeth? You can find out more about this condition by reading our full article.

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 the dangers of and how to stop mouth breathing and how to use mouth taping as a potential solution.

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. So is vaping bad for your teeth? 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.

White spots on teeth

White spots on teeth can be caused by a variety of factors, including excessive fluoride intake during childhood tooth development, having braces, and even certain medications. This cosmetic issue can be treated with professional or at-home whitening.

Dental tools

What the heck are they putting in my mouth? While you're laying back in the dentists chair, you may be wondering what exactly those scary-looking tools are dentists use. Dental tools should only be used by professionals, but that doesn't mean you can't educate yourself on the tools used for teeth cleaning and care. Read this helpful article to learn more about dental tools.

Oral Health: Common Problems and Solutions For a Healthy Smile
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Natalie used to work as a Community Health Worker and Health Insurance Navigator. She continues to follow her passion for connecting people with the healthcare they need by writing informative content about dentistry and medicine.
Dr. Angela S. Evanson obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Minnesota. She completed a pediatric mini-residency at the University of the Pacific Dental School. Dr. Evanson has provided quality dental care since 1994. She currently practices dentistry at Angela Evanson DDS in Parker, Colorado. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Colorado Dental Association, the Metro Denver Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry, the Colorado Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Equilibration Society. Dr. Evanson volunteers with KIND and participates in the American Dental Association’s annual Give-Kids-a-Smile program.