Tooth Problems: Understanding Common Dental Issues and Their Causes

For most Canadians, maintaining your oral health is the cornerstone of your overall well-being.

Our teeth play a crucial role in our digestion, speech, and self-confidence, making it imperative to address any dental issues promptly. However, from tooth decay to gum disease, a range of common tooth problems can arise, each with its distinct causes and potential remedies.

Tooth Decay (Cavities)

Tooth decay, or cavities, is one of the most prevalent dental problems among modern Canadians. It occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that erode tooth enamel. Poor oral hygiene, frequent consumption of sugary foods and beverages, and inadequate fluoride exposure are common culprits behind tooth decay.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis)

Gum disease refers to an inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial plaque buildup along the gumline. Gingivitis is the early stage, characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, this can progress to periodontitis, which affects the bone supporting the teeth.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity involves pain or discomfort when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. It often arises from exposed tooth roots due to gum recession or worn enamel.

Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion is the loss of enamel caused by acid erosion. Acidic foods, beverages, and conditions such as acid reflux can contribute to enamel wear.


Toothaches can result from various factors, including tooth decay, infection, gum disease, grinding teeth (bruxism), or an impacted tooth.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Persistent bad breath can stem from poor oral hygiene, gum disease, dry mouth, certain foods, or even underlying health conditions.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a painful infection around the root of a tooth or in the spaces between the teeth and gums. Abscesses require prompt treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.

Cracked or Chipped Teeth

Cracks or chips in your teeth can occur due to trauma, grinding, or biting on hard objects. They can weaken the structure of your teeth, and even increase the risk of decay.

Tooth Discolouration

Tooth discolouration can be intrinsic (internal) or extrinsic (external). Causes of discolouration typically include aging, staining foods and beverages, smoking, and certain medications.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism refers to the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, often during sleep. It can lead to tooth wear, jaw pain, and headaches.

Malocclusion (Bad Bite)

Malocclusion refers to the misalignment of the teeth and jaws. This condition can lead to difficulties in chewing, speech problems, and increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth occurs when there is insufficient saliva production in the mouth, and can result from medications, medical conditions, or certain treatments, leading to increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, can become impacted (unable to fully emerge) due to lack of space. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, and infection.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a developmental condition where tooth enamel is thin or underdeveloped. It can result from factors such as malnutrition, illness during tooth development, or certain medications.

Prevention and Treatment

Addressing tooth problems begins with proactive prevention and timely treatment. Here are some strategies for maintaining optimal dental health:

  • Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash.
  • Balanced Diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. Limit sugary and acidic foods and beverages.
  • Regular Dental Visits: Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings to catch and address issues early.
  • Fluoride: Ensure adequate fluoride exposure through toothpaste, mouthwash, and drinking water (if not naturally fluoridated).
  • Avoid Smoking and Tobacco Products: Smoking increases the risk of gum disease, oral cancer, and other dental issues.
  • Address Teeth Grinding: If you grind your teeth, consider using a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw.
  • Proper Brushing Technique: Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and gentle circular motions. Avoid aggressive brushing, which can damage enamel and gums.
  • Floss Correctly: Use proper flossing techniques to remove debris from between teeth and along the gumline.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to maintain saliva production and oral hydration.
  • Limit Acidic Foods and Beverages: Consume acidic foods and drinks in moderation to reduce enamel erosion.

As a whole, maintaining healthy teeth is an integral part of your overall well-being. Luckily, by understanding common dental problems, their causes, and their preventive measures, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your oral health.

Regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene practices, a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful habits are all essential components of achieving and preserving a radiant and confident smile. Our team at Dawson Dental is here for you to help make your teeth are as healthy as they can be and bring you the smile you deserve. Schedule a consultation with one of our dentists today.