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5 Common Dental Problems: Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

Whether we like it or not, we will all encounter common dental problems at some point in our lives. Issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and toothaches can affect anyone. By learning about their causes, symptoms, and treatments, we empower ourselves to take better care of our smiles.  

Let's explore these common dental concerns together so our dentist in Johnson City, TN, can work with you to maintain a healthy mouth and radiant smile. 


What Are the Five Common Dental Problems Patients Deal With? 

#1: Tooth Decay 

Tooth decay, or cavities, occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that erode the enamel, leading to small holes in the teeth. This process is triggered by the combination of bacteria, sugars, and starches from food and drinks. Poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods, dry mouth, and certain medical conditions contribute to tooth decay. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis 

Symptoms of tooth decay include tooth sensitivity, visible holes in the teeth, discoloration, bad breath, and swelling around the affected tooth. Dentists diagnose decay through visual inspection, probing, and X-rays to assess the extent of damage. 

Prevention Methods 

Preventing tooth decay involves various methods, such as:

  • Brushing teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing
  • Limiting sugary and acidic foods
  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings

Treatment Options 

Treatment for tooth decay depends on the extent of the damage and may include: 

  • Dental Fillings: These restorations are used to repair small to moderate cavities by removing the decayed portion of the tooth and filling the space with a dental material such as amalgam or composite resin.
  • Dental Crowns: For more extensive decay or weakened teeth, a dental crown may be placed over the remaining tooth structure to restore its shape, strength, and function.
  • Root Canal Therapy: If the decay reaches the inner pulp of the tooth, root canal treatment may be necessary to remove the infected tissue, disinfect the root canal, and seal it to prevent further infection.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is extensively decayed and cannot be saved, extraction may be the only option to prevent the spread of infection to surrounding teeth and tissues.

#2: Gum Disease  

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, encompasses gingivitis and periodontitis, which are conditions affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It occurs when bacteria in dental plaque cause inflammation and infection of the gums. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis 

Symptoms of gum disease include: 

  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose or shifting teeth.

Dentists in Johnson City, TN, can diagnose gum disease through a comprehensive examination, which may include measuring gum pocket depth and X-rays to assess bone loss. 

How to Prevent Gum Disease 

Preventing gum disease involves maintaining good oral hygiene habits, including: 

  • Brushing teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Using antiseptic mouthwash
  • Quitting smoking
  • Consuming a balanced diet

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential for early detection and treatment of gum disease. 

How to Treat It?  

Treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the condition and may include: 

  • Professional Dental Cleaning: Scaling and root planing can remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline.
  • Medications: Antibacterial mouth rinses, topical antibiotics, or oral antibiotics can control infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Surgical Procedures: In advanced cases, surgical treatments such as flap surgery, bone grafts, or tissue grafts may be necessary to repair damaged gum tissue and bone.

#3: Tooth Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the underlying dentin layer of the tooth becomes exposed due to enamel erosion or gum recession, allowing external stimuli to reach the nerves within the tooth. This can result from factors such as abrasive toothbrushing, acidic foods and drinks, gum disease, or teeth grinding (bruxism). 

What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity?  

Symptoms of tooth sensitivity include sharp, sudden pain or discomfort when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks, as well as during brushing or flossing. Dentists diagnose tooth sensitivity through patient history, dental examination, and sensitivity tests to identify areas of exposed dentin. 

Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Prevented?  

Yes, preventing tooth sensitivity involves protecting tooth enamel and minimizing gum recession. This includes using a soft-bristled toothbrush, avoiding acidic foods and drinks, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, using desensitizing toothpaste, and addressing teeth grinding with a mouthguard. 

Treatment Options for Tooth Sensitivity 

  • Dental Bonding: Utilizing a tooth-colored resin to cover exposed dentin and reduce sensitivity.
  • Fluoride Varnish: Applying fluoride varnish to strengthen enamel and reduce sensitivity.
  • Dental Sealants: Placing a protective coating on the chewing surfaces of teeth to prevent sensitivity.
  • Gum Grafting: A surgical procedure to cover exposed tooth roots with gum tissue from another area of the mouth, reducing sensitivity.

#4: Toothaches 

Toothaches are commonly caused by various dental issues, such as tooth decay, infection, gum disease, or trauma. The pain can range from mild sensitivity to severe, throbbing discomfort, often indicating an underlying dental problem. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis 

Symptoms of a toothache typically include sharp or throbbing pain, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, swelling or redness of the gums, bad taste or odor in the mouth, and, in severe cases, fever or headache. Dentists diagnose the underlying cause of a toothache through a comprehensive examination, which may involve X-rays to identify issues like tooth decay, infection, or gum disease. 


Preventing toothaches involves actions such as: 

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene habits
  • Brushing teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing regularly
  • Limiting consumption of sugary and acidic foods
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Visiting your dentist in Johnson City, TN, for check-ups and cleanings

How Do Dentists Treat Toothaches?  

  • Antibiotics: Dentists may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections causing the toothache.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth cannot be saved by other means, tooth extraction may be necessary to relieve the toothache and prevent the spread of infection.
  • Pain Relief Medications: Dentists may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to manage discomfort associated with toothaches while addressing the underlying cause.

#5: Bad Breath 

Bad breath is a common oral health issue characterized by unpleasant odors emanating from the mouth. It can be temporary or chronic and may be caused by various factors related to oral hygiene, diet, or underlying medical conditions. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis 

Symptoms of bad breath include foul-smelling breath that persists despite oral hygiene efforts, dry mouth, white coating on the tongue, and unpleasant taste or coating in the mouth. Dentists or healthcare providers can diagnose the underlying cause through a comprehensive examination. 


Preventing bad breath involves the following: 

  • Adopting good oral hygiene habits
  • Staying hydrated
  • Avoiding tobacco products
  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings


  • Mouthwash: Antiseptic mouthwash can help kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
  • Sugar-free Gum or Mints: Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free mints can stimulate saliva flow and mask bad breath temporarily.
  • Addressing Underlying Medical Conditions: Treatment of underlying medical conditions contributing to bad breath, such as gum disease or dry mouth, can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Professional Dental Cleaning: Scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar buildup can improve oral hygiene and reduce bad breath.

Talk to a Dentist in Johnson City, TN, Today! 

If you're experiencing any of the dental issues mentioned or have other oral health concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to Martin Dentistry. With our expert team and comprehensive range of treatments, we are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal dental health and a confident smile. Schedule your appointment today