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The 5 Most Common Dental Problems

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Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating properly and having regular dental checkups are the most effective preventative measures to avoid dental problems. Yet and still, there are a number of dental problems that rank as the five most common dental issues that people face.

Perhaps the most common of oral health issues involves bad breath (a.k.a. halitosis). Not only can it be embarrassing, dental experts agree that the vast majority of people with halitosis have an underlying dental problem to blame. Flossing daily and brushing both the teeth and the tongue twice a day can greatly reduce and possibly eliminate bad breath.

While using mouthwash and or chewing gum can cover up bad breath, these are not cures. Chronic halitosis should be addressed with a dental health care provider.

Cavities are another common dental issue. Tooth decay occurs when plaque combines with sugars and starches in the food that we eat. This combination produces acidic substances that attack tooth enamel. Accordingly, eating healthy foods and avoiding food and drinks that are high in sugar also minimize the likelihood of tooth decay.

Gum disease is an infection in the gums surrounding the teeth and is the main cause of tooth loss among adults. While early gum disease (gingivitis) can be addressed with minimal intervention, advanced gum disease (periodontitis) may require surgery. Perhaps even more disturbingly, gum disease has been linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Mouth sores (canker sores, fever blisters, cold sores, ulcers and thrush) can be rather annoying and bothersome. However, mouth sores that last for two weeks or more can be an indication of a more serious problem. In such case, be sure to contact your health care provider.

Oral cancer is a serious and deadly disease that affects millions of people. Hundreds of thousands of new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed worldwide every year. Most oral cancers (a.k.a. squamous cell carcinomas) tend to spread rather quickly.

Smoking and other tobacco use are linked to most cases of oral cancer, as is heavy alcohol consumption. Other factors that may increase one’s risk for oral cancer include human papillomavirus infection (HPV), chronic irritation (e.g., from rough teeth, dentures, or fillings), poor dental hygiene and/or poor oral hygiene. Men (especially men over 40) get oral cancer twice as often as women do.

Fortunately, this very serious dental disease, which involves the mouth, lips and/or throat, can be highly curable with early diagnosis and treatment.


Top 10 Common Dental Problems. Web. Accessed 7 Dec. 2011.

Oral Cancer. Web. www.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed 7 Dec. 2011.

Common Dental Emergencies. Web. www.aafp.org. Accessed 7 Dec. 2011.

Reviewed December 8, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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