What causes dental problems?


By Brandie Umar, Executive Director of ContentLast modified: October 05, 2011

What Causes Dental Problems?

Dental problems can affect your teeth and gums, and neglected dental problems can have a knock on affect for your overall health. Maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding food and drink that damages teeth can help prevent problems before dental treatment is necessary, but what actually causes dental problems?

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the reason for most of the problems seen by dentists. The mouth is a playground for germs and plaque and bacteria build up on teeth and gums every day. Not removing the plaque allows the germs to multiply,leaving a film of bacteria on the teeth. This acidic bacteria slowly attacks tooth enamel and the gums around the teeth - tooth enamel thins and the gums become infected. Poor oral hygiene eventually leads to tooth loss if untreated. 

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is caused by demineralisation of tooth enamel. As teeth loose the minerals that strengthen the enamel, the enamel thins causing cracks and cavities. Demineralization of tooth enamel is a result of acidic plaque and bacterial build up on teeth.

Gum disease

Untreated gum disease develops quickly and can lead to tooth loss, gaps in the gum and death of the gum tissue. As periodontal gum disease spreads in the mouth, the same bacteria moves to the blood stream causing blood clots and blockages in the arteries which are serious for the health of your heart. 

Dry Mouth

Plaque is created every time you eat or drink. Normally, the saliva in your mouth works to neutralize plaque before it starts to damage teeth. For many people, especially elderly people or those suffering with diabetes, not enough saliva is produced and the plaque retains the acid that causes tooth decay, gum disease and many other dental problems. 


Infections in the gum and teeth can be caused by ill health, not brushing teeth regularly, health related problems and trauma to the mouth. Dental infections often affect the root of teeth or the gum tissue, causing tooth loss and bleeding painful gums. 


Disorders of the temporomandibular joint in the jaw can cause severe dental problems. TMJ disorder causes problems with the dental bite, the way the sets of teeth meet when closed. An irregular bite puts strain on the jaw and individual teeth causing jaw pain and can make it easier for patients to crack or break teeth. 

Bruxism/ Teeth grinding

Nighttime teeth grinding is common and is often a reaction to stress, an irregular bite or a side effect of medication. Grinding the upper and lower sets of teeth together weakens tooth enamel, places strain on the jaw and can easily break weak teeth.  


Diabetics are highly likely to suffer from dental problems as diabetes can cause a decrease in blood supply to gum tissue, trigger infections that spread to teeth and gums and dry mouth is common among diabetics. 


Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and infection, can damage the gum tissue and increases the risk of oral cancer.  






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