Are Your Cosmetic Concerns Signs of Oral Health Problems?

Most Americans are unhappy about the appearance of our smiles, but many of us put off doing something about it. We think that the appearance of our smile is not important.

But maybe it’s time to rethink that. The truth is that when it comes to your smile, health and beauty go hand in hand. A healthy smile is a beautiful smile, and it’s also true that many common cosmetic complaints can actually be signals of oral health problems.

Discolored Teeth

The most common complaint people have about the appearance of their smile is that it’s discolored. The good news is that many times, this can be fixed simply: teeth whitening. Teeth whitening removes common stains such as those from coffee, tea, wine, or cigarettes. But if your teeth don’t respond to whitening, there may be something more going on.

If your teeth have been damaged by acid, such stomach acid or acids in foods, then the white layer of the tooth–the enamel–may be thinned and may be showing through the darker dentin inside. Since enamel is the hard, outer layer of your teeth, this is more than a cosmetic problem, it’s a sign that your teeth are at risk.

If a single tooth becomes discolored, that can also be a bad sign. Often, the discoloration is coming from within, caused either by trauma to the tooth or by infection. Both of these need attention to save the tooth, and sometimes to save you from serious health consequences.

Teeth may also become discolored by mercury leaking from metal amalgam fillings.

Chipped Teeth

A chipped tooth might not seem like anything but a cosmetic issue. The small sliver of tooth doesn’t seem to have changed anything about the way your teeth chew, and the sharp edge might have gone away, but there could be more going on here.

Sure, veneers or dental bonding can work well to repair the cosmetic impact of the chip, but we also have to ask why the tooth chipped in the first place.

If you experienced some notable trauma to your tooth or jaw, you have a good explanation for why your tooth chipped. But if your tooth chipped just as a result of biting or chewing normal food, there may be more going on here than you suspect. When teeth chip spontaneously like that, it’s often a sign that the bite is imbalanced and that some of your teeth are being subjected to excess force. To keep more teeth from chipping, we will have to look at your bite and check for TMJ and other bite problems.

Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can be both a cause and a consequence of unhealthy gums. If your teeth are crooked, it can be hard to clean them properly. This can lead to the growth of oral bacteria, leading to gum disease.

Gum disease may also be one of the reasons why your teeth–which used to be straight–have started moving and are now crooked.

The good news is that the reverse is also true. Orthodontic treatments like Invisalign don’t just give you a straight smile, they can reduce your risk of gum disease by nearly half!

Gummy Smile or Long Teeth

In a healthy, attractive smile, there should be a balance between teeth and gums. Both are visible and both contribute to the appearance of your smile.

But if either dominates your smile, it can be a sign of an oral health problem that needs attention.

If you have always had a gummy smile, your teeth might not have emerged fully from your gums. This can be corrected with gum recontouring. But if your gummy smile is a new development, we have to consider other possibilities.

Some medications can stimulate the growth of your gums, causing them to take over your smile. Or, the problem might be that your teeth are getting worn down as a result of bruxism or a bad bite.

Long teeth are sometimes natural, but it’s more likely that this develops when we experience receding gums. The most common causes of receding gums are gum disease and overbrushing or brushing too hard. Please contact us so we can evaluate the health of your gums and talk about your home hygiene routine.

Missing Tooth

A missing tooth is a very visible cosmetic complaint that many people want to address. But it’s also a sign of oral health problems–including those that may come if you don’t replace the missing tooth.

Most reasons why one tooth is lost can lead to more lost teeth if they’re not addressed. Tooth decay and gum disease are often related to systemic concerns such as diet and hygiene, and they rarely impact just one tooth.

But leaving a gap in your teeth can also come to impact your other teeth. When there’s a gap, your other teeth can start to drift. And your other teeth have to bear the excess load when you bite and chew. This can lead to more chipping and cracking of your teeth. And when food and bacteria accumulate in a tooth gap, it increases your risk of gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss.

Replacing a missing tooth with a dental implant or bridge does more than make your smile attractive, it makes your smile whole and healthy again.

Cosmetic Complaints Deserve Attention

You might be unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, but you’ve been putting off dealing with it because you think it doesn’t matter. But the truth is that many cosmetic complaints might be signaling oral health problems. It’s important to have these concerns evaluated to determine their true cause, and then you can decide what treatments are appropriate.

Please call 832-610-3123 today for an appointment with Woodlands cosmetic dentist Scott Young, Purveyor of Fine Dentistry to the Houston area.

Dr. Scott Young, DDS

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