woman with a toothacheAlmost all of us have suffered from some kind of dental problem in our lifetimes. And if you haven’t, that’s impressive – but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t still happen.

The good news is that most common dental problems are preventable by proper oral hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing, as well as twice-yearly trips to the dentist. However, if you are concerned about avoiding tooth, gum, and breathing problems, read on and see what you can do to keep your mouth as healthy as possible.

You will also learn how to deal with dental problems should they arise.

Bad Breath (halitosis)

No one likes to be told they have bad breath, and you can generally cure it by brushing – do not forget to brush the base of your tongue near your throat, where the bacteria that cause halitosis often congregates – and antiseptic mouthwash. However, having chronic bad breath could be a sign of a more serious dental condition.

These dental problems often cause halitosis:

  • Gum disease
  • Cavities
  • Oral cancer
  • Dry mouth

You should also avoid tobacco use of any kind, as well as excessive alcohol and coffee consumption, as these also promote tooth and gum decay and halitosis.

If you consistently brush and use mouthwash but still have bad breath, perhaps it’s time to visit a dentist. Dentists can accurately assess the issue and help you correct it (and its underlying causes) ASAP.

Tooth Decay (cavities)

When you pair modern dental practices with strong oral hygiene, it’s much easier to avoid cavities these days. But even the most vigilant of us can still experience tooth decay. In fact, cavities are the most common dental problem addressed by dentists in the United States.

Cavities, also called dental caries, can happen to anyone with teeth – not just kids! In fact, as we age, the protective coating that helps shield our teeth from tooth decay – tooth enamel – often recedes and erodes, leaving our teeth more vulnerable.

Tooth decay develops when the sugars we eat (which also include simple carbohydrates, like bread and rice), combine with plaque (which is made up of bacteria) to produce acids that eat through the enamel on your teeth. When that happens, the plaque penetrates deeper, eating away at the actual tooth to form a hole – or cavity.

The best way to avoid tooth decay is to brush and floss daily while avoiding sugary foods and (especially) drinks. Healthy foods, such as apples, can also clean your teeth as you eat them, while drinking lots of water (especially after meals) will help clean the sugars and particles from your teeth.

If you develop a cavity or think you’re developing a cavity, see your dentist right away. Cavities and tooth sensitivity are almost always linked, so if you have a sensitive tooth, it could be a sign of a cavity.

Dentists can both fill any cavities and diagnose if one of these dental problems is developing. Do not ignore dental cavities, as they can lead to much worse, including affecting other teeth and eventually producing a root infection of the tooth (a type of abscess).

Gum (Periodontal) Disease

An infection of the gums around your teeth, gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to tooth loss, as well as a host of other dental problems.

Most commonly occurring after age 30, periodontal disease occurs when plaque is left untreated and develops into tartar, which then begins to attack your gums. Tobacco is also a significant risk factor. Diabetes, hormonal changes, certain medications, and even genetics may also play a role.

Symptoms include:

  • Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • Gums recede, making teeth appear longer
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth

Periodontal disease is sometimes called gingivitis, while advanced stages of gum disease are referred to as periodontitis.

Strong oral hygiene – such as regular dental check-ups, brushing, and flossing can help prevent gingivitis and periodontitis. However, some people are more predisposed to gum disease, and your dentist will perform a range of tests to determine if you have gum disease. These tests include a gum examination, x-rays, and a medical history survey.

Untreated, gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, so do not wait to see your dentist if you think you may have one of these serious dental problems.


Good oral health habits can do much to help you avoid cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. That includes twice daily brushing and flossing, as well as avoidance of too many sugary snacks and drinks, and the complete avoidance of tobacco. Excess alcohol and coffee consumption should also be avoided, as they promote dry mouth.

The top priority is twice-yearly dental checkups, so a professional can identify any of these dental issues and help provide a solution to your oral disorders.

Oral (Oropharyngeal) Cancer

If the previous issues were serious but preventable, these dental diseases can be deadly and are not always preventable. The good news, however, is that modern dental technology can often pinpoint oral cancer in its very early stages, allowing someone diagnosed with this disease a much better prognosis of remission and cure.

Diagnosis of oral cancer is increasingly common in the United States. In fact, the American Cancer Society estimates “about 54,540 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2023 and that approximately 11,580 will die from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer. The average age of people diagnosed with these cancers is 64, but they can occur in young people. Just over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in people younger than 55. These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women.”

Oral cancers most often occur in:

  • The tongue
  • The tonsils and oropharynx (the part of the throat behind the mouth)
  • The gums, floor of the mouth, and other parts of the mouth

While genetics are a key indicator in the development of oral cancer, there are certain lifestyle factors that increase your odds of suffering oral cancer. These include:

  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Symptoms of oral cancer may include:

  • Lip or mouth sores that do not heal.
  • A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth that does not heal
  • A growth or lump inside your mouth
  • Continued mouth pain
  • Continued ear pain
  • Difficulty or pain while swallowing

Your dentist should offer a routine oral cancer screening during each visit. Ask them what it entails and how it is conducted.

See Your Dentist If You:

If you think you have ANY symptoms of oral cancer, see your dental health professional immediately. Also, notify your dentist if you develop any:

  • Problems chewing or swallowing
  • Trouble moving your tongue or jaw

The National Institute of Health notes that, “two-thirds of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage of disease with a 5-year survival rate of 50% or less.”

Mouth Sores

While mouth sores can be painful and bothersome, they are typically nothing to worry about, unless they last more than two weeks without healing.

There are a wide range of these dental conditions, including:

Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) – Develop inside the mouth (not on the lips), are not contagious and can be triggered by several factors. These can often be effectively treated by over-the-counter pain medications.

Fever blisters/cold sores (herpes simplex virus): Develop on the lips and are caused by the contagious (which is typically spread through direct contact). There is no cure for these sores, but there are effective oral and topical treatments to counter eruptions.

Thrush (oral candidiasis): Yeast infection sores in the mouth typically occur in infants, denture wearers, people with diabetes, and people treated for cancer.

If you experience any of these types of sores, contact your dentist. They may want to see you, but they may just as easily phone in prescription or recommend an over-the-counter solution.

Tooth Erosion

Like tooth decay, tooth erosion occurs when acid attacks the enamel on your tooth or teeth and causes a weakness in a certain area of the tooth or teeth.

Symptoms of tooth erosion include:

  • Sensitive teeth – which increases in severity the longer erosion occurs.
  • Tooth discoloration – Due to the loss of enamel.
  • Small cracks – Usually stemming from grinding of compromised teeth.
  • Cupping, or erosion lesions – Dents that show where enamel has eroded.

Tooth erosion is common but easily preventable with proper oral care. If you suspect you have tooth erosion, please contact your dentist immediately.

Tooth Sensitivity

A very common concern, tooth sensitivity can stem from several factors, including:

  • Loss of enamel
  • Cavity
  • Cracked or chipped tooth
  • Gum disease
  • Abscessed tooth (root infection)

Sensitive teeth often react when they come in contact with:

  • Sweets
  • Cold air
  • Hot drinks
  • Cold drinks
  • Ice cream

Sensitive teeth can typically be prevented by strong oral health practices: daily brushing and flossing, along with twice-yearly trips to the dentist.

If you have sensitive teeth, let your dentist know – especially if it occurs suddenly. If it is because of an abscess – which usually occurs with swelling around the infected tooth – you will require a root canal to avoid serious health complications.

Toothaches and Dental Emergencies

Toothaches can range from annoying to excruciating. And you will likely know if you have a toothache severe enough to require immediate, emergency dental attention. Emergency dentistry is an option for a range of concerns beyond toothache, including:

  • A broken or cracked tooth
  • An abscessed tooth
  • Having a tooth knocked out

If an oral issue such as this happens, contact your dentist immediately – even if it’s on a weekend or after hours. Your dentist should be able to handle the situation.

Get Urgent Medical Attention For:

Beyond a tooth problem, there are other oral health concerns that you should seek immediate medical help for. These include:

  • A broken or dislocated jaw
  • Severe wounds to your tongue, lips, or mouth
  • A tooth abscess that causes difficulty swallowing
  • Significant facial swelling

You should either go straight to the emergency room or call your dentist for advice if you experience any of these occurrences.


Strong oral hygiene practices can prevent most common dental problems. That means brushing at least twice daily (dry brushing once or twice during the day is also a great practice) and flossing in the morning and evening. You should also strive to avoid tobacco completely, as well as excess alcohol or coffee consumption. The same goes for sweets/candy, as well as simple carbohydrate foods and sodas and sports drinks. Also, make sure to rinse/drink water after each meal to help clean your teeth.

Most importantly, you should see your dentist twice yearly.

And if you have any questions or face any dental issues or emergencies, please call your dentist right away. They should be willing to help in any way possible.

Also, be sure to keep your dentist informed of any changes in your mouth, teeth, or gums.

Call BGW Dental Group Today

Are you concerned about your oral health? Have you had a lapse in dental care or sudden oral problems? Or perhaps you’ve just moved to the north Georgia area and require a new dentist to take over your oral health care. Whatever the reason, know that BGW is here to help you obtain the best dental health care possible.

The caring team at BGW offers three different locations – in Braselton, Dahlonega, and Gainesville – and we’re always happy to add another member to our growing family of clients. Our dentists and staff are here for you. Our staff will fully evaluate your oral health via the most cutting-edge methods available. And whatever your age or need, we will tailor-make your oral care to suit your specific situation.

Please get in touch with our offices today at 678-582-8099 or visit our website and let us help you prevent the most common dental problems.