We’d all love to flaunt a perfect smile: pearly white teeth, natural and straight.
Unfortunately, this is just a dream for too many of us. Recent surveys have shown that amongst Australians, 1/3 of females and 1/4 of males are unhappy with the appearance of their teeth.
Sadly, there are lots of dental issues that can cause this dissatisfaction, with some of us complaining of more than one. Here are 5 of the biggest issues:
- Stained or discolored teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Bad breath
- Broken or missing teeth
- Crooked teeth or an overcrowded mouth
These common problems can cause terrible embarrassment; they can affect our confidence and self-esteem, our relationships and social lives, and our mental health if left untreated.
In short, if you are suffering from one or more of these issues, you should seek help as soon as possible for your own health and well-being.
The good news is, with some self-care and help from your dentist, you’ll soon be able to flash a confident smile.
Here’s what to do:
Problem 1: Stained or Discolored Teeth
Lots of us dislike the color of our teeth. Natural color can vary from person to person, and our teeth can darken with age, too. They may also pick up stains from food and drink. Spices, red wine and coffee are often the culprits.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about the shade of your teeth, there are a few steps you can take to improve matters:
- If your problem is very mild, you might opt to try tooth whitening toothpastes or treatments available from the pharmacy.
- If your problem is moderate to severe, professional treatment is by far the best option. Talk to your dentist about their cosmetic dentistry services. They may be able to use laser whitening treatments, which are very effective, or chemical treatments, which are superior to those you may be able to buy yourself.
- Whether you opt for an at home or in office treatment, be sure to give your diet an overhaul. Cut down on red wine, coffee, tea and other staining food and drink to prevent problems recurring after treatment.
Problem 2: Decayed Teeth
Decayed teeth don’t look nice, but they can also cause pain, so treatment is vital.
If your teeth are already decaying, it is really important to prevent further damage as soon as possible. This will mean you are less likely to lose teeth or need them to be removed.
Keep your teeth clean by brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash. Try to limit the number of times in a day when teeth might be under attack from sugars in your diet, too. So, you may have to cut back on carbs and sugary treats.
To fix any damage already done you’ll need to see your dentist’s ASAP, who can then suggest an appropriate tooth decay treatment.
Your dentist may wish to use a dental crown on already decaying teeth. This is a prosthetic tooth that fits over the existing tooth. It’s natural-looking and will prevent further damage to the tooth underneath.
Alternatively, a veneer could be applied to the front of the problem tooth. A filling may also be sufficient to repair a tooth. Thankfully, modern fillings are more discreet than their metal predecessors and can be matched to the color of your own teeth.
Problem 3: Bad Breath
Bad breath, or halitosis, is a particularly embarrassing and unfortunately common problem. It is thought to affect 1 in 4 of us regularly, and more of us occasionally.
More often than not, bad breath is caused by insufficient attention to dental hygiene, but occasionally there is a more serious cause, such as gum disease or impacted wisdom teeth.
The first step is always to improve your basic dental hygiene regime for a few days to see if this solves the problem. So, brush thoroughly twice daily, keep your tongue clean and floss daily, too.
If this does not appear to solve the problem, then you will need to visit your dentist to determine the cause. They will treat the related problem and you should see improvement following the treatment. They may suggest you visit your family doctor to rule out underlying medical problems that may be the cause of your bad breath.
Problem 4: Broken or Missing Teeth
Unfortunately, missing teeth are incredibly common. In the USA, only a third of 40-64 year olds have all their natural teeth.
Many of us have chips too, caused by falls or accidents, or biting into something particularly hard. Underlying decay can also cause enamel to be weakened, making a chip more likely.
Depending on where in your mouth your missing teeth or chips are, you may feel very self-conscious.
You’ll need a dentist’s help with a chipped or missing tooth.
Here are the options they may discuss with you for a missing tooth:
- Dentures, which are a removable framework to hold false teeth.
- Bridges, which are a means of fixing false teeth onto adjacent teeth.
- Dental implants, which are false teeth implanted into your jawbone.
Or for broken teeth:
- In severe cases, removal of the tooth and replacement with one of the above processes.
- In cases of moderate damage, dental bonding, i.e. using a composite material to rebuild the tooth, much like a filling.
- For minor damage, simple filing and polishing may be enough to sufficiently repair the tooth.
Problem 5: Overcrowding
It’s really important to get overcrowding fixed.
Firstly, most people who suffer from a crowded mouth feel it is unattractive.
Secondly, from a dental health point of view, it could cause further equally embarrassing problems. Teeth that are too close together are hard to clean, which can mean they decay or lead to bad breath.
An orthodontist can help you with this issue. They may recommend a spacer, a retainer or braces to permanently fix the problem. The average adult patient needs to wear braces for 12-18 months so they are not an instant fix. However, when you compare this time with a lifetime of crooked teeth and associated problems, it is well worth the commitment.
Modern braces and orthodontic devices are now very discreet. They come in natural colors and can often be well-hidden in the mouth.
So, there’s really no need to grin and bear it when it comes to these embarrassing dental problems. Your dentist is just a phone call or visit away, always ready to be of help.
Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.