Understanding Common Dental Problems | Mount Lawley Dental
Understanding Common Dental Problems: Tips for Prevention and Early Detection
Preventive Dentistry

Understanding Common Dental Problems: Tips for Prevention and Early Detection

Posted on:

Most oral health problems can be prevented by practising a daily oral hygiene routine and attending regular dental visits

3 minute read

Oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease are among the most common diseases in the world, affecting people of all ages. Oral health is linked with overall health and wellbeing, and problems in the mouth can increase the risk of developing other serious health conditions.

The good news is that dental problems can usually be prevented with a combination of good daily habits and professional dental care. Addressing problems early can also avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort, and could avoid the need for more expensive treatments later.

Read on to learn about the most common dental problems and how to prevent them. If you need to see a dentist in Perth, call (08) 9227 8777 to speak to our friendly team or book an appointment at Mount Lawley Dental.

Book Online

Tooth decay

Tooth decay (dental caries) is the most widespread oral health problem, and can be a starting point for other problems if it’s not treated. It’s caused by bacteria that form on the surfaces of teeth in a sticky layer called plaque.

These bacteria feed on sugar and other carbohydrates that enter the mouth when you eat and drink. The bacteria then release acids that can wear down tooth enamel over time. Avoiding food and drink that’s high in sugar and maintaining good brushing and flossing habits can help keep tooth decay at bay.

Tooth decay may be visible as white, brown or black patches on teeth, but it doesn’t always have obvious signs, so it’s important to have regular check-ups with a dentist. They can also provide a professional scale and clean and fluoride treatments to remove bacteria and help prevent further plaque build-up.

If tooth decay isn’t treated, it can lead to problems like cavities and root canal infections that need to be treated by a dentist. If a tooth becomes too badly decayed and cannot be saved, it may need to be removed entirely.

Gum disease

Gum disease (periodontal disease) can happen when plaque builds up around the gum line. This can infect or irritate the gum tissue, leading to inflammation (swelling). There are two stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, when the gum may look red, feel sore, and bleed when you brush or floss. Gingivitis can usually be treated by improving your oral hygiene habits and visiting the dentist for professional oral hygiene treatments to remove plaque.
  • Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. This can permanently damage gum tissue and bone structures in the jaw, leading to problems like receding gums and tooth loss. Advanced gum disease needs professional treatment to remove bacteria and restore infected tissue.

Severe gum disease affects around 19% of people, or 1 billion people worldwide, according to World Health Organization figures. The main risk factors for gum disease are poor oral hygiene and tobacco use. Gum disease itself is a risk factor for a number of serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

Tooth erosion

Besides tooth decay, teeth can also wear down when exposed to other acids in food and drink or stomach acids. Repeated exposure to acids can dissolve the protective tooth enamel or cause it to soften and become more easily damaged.

Tooth erosion may be reduced by avoiding (or reducing) food and drink with high acidity (such as fruit juices, soft drinks and wines) or seeking treatment for medical conditions such as acid reflux. Drinking water regularly and rinsing your mouth after your teeth are exposed to acids can also help to neutralise their effects.

Cracked teeth

A cracked tooth can be painful or sensitive, and may be at risk of further damage of infection if bacteria gets in. If you’ve damaged a tooth, you should see a dentist for emergency care. Depending on the extent of the damage, they may recommend treatment options such as bonding or strengthening the tooth with a protective dental crown.

While it’s not possible to avoid all accidents, you could lower your risk of tooth damage by taking precautions such as wearing a mouthguard while playing sports and not biting into very hard foods or objects. Similarly, if you suffer from teeth grinding, your dentist can prescribe a night splint to help protect your teeth while you sleep.

Got questions about cracked teeth? Book an appointment with one of our friendly dentists today.

Book Online

Tooth sensitivity

 There can be many reasons for teeth becoming more sensitive, but this is often the sign of an underlying problem such as a cavity or other damage, an infection of the tooth, or receding gums caused by gum disease or rough brushing. Your dentist can determine the cause of the sensitivity and discuss appropriate treatments.

Tooth sensitivity may be reduced by taking care to brush and floss gently, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and desensitising toothpaste, and avoiding triggering foods and drinks, such as those with high acidity. If you’re struggling with sensitive teeth, contact our dentists for more personalised advice and treatments.

Jaw pain

Jaw pain is another common symptom that has many causes, including physical damage to the jaw or the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), pressure from an uneven bite or teeth grinding, or an impacted wisdom tooth.

Your dentist will need to take an x-ray of your mouth and jaw to diagnose the likely problem and recommend suitable treatments to relieve your jaw pain.

Staining and discolouration

If your teeth have turned yellow or have other discolouration, this may be due to an oral hygiene issue or other causes, such as staining from food and drink, tobacco use, or medication side effects.

Improving your oral hygiene and visiting the dentist for a professional scale and clean could reduce surface stains and improve your oral health. If you have other stains that you want to cover up, your dentist could discuss cosmetic dentistry options such as teeth whitening or veneers.

How to prevent dental problems

Most common oral health and dental problems can be prevented with a combination of:

  • Good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and drinking plenty of water
  • Healthy diet: Cutting down on sugar and following a balanced diet to support healthy teeth and gums
  • Lowering your risks: Quitting smoking and wearing a mouthguard when playing sports or for teeth grinding
  • Regular dental visits: Seeing a dentist every 6–12 months for a comprehensive check-up and preventive care

Book a check-up with our Mount Lawley dentists

Has it been longer than 6 months since your last visited the dentist, or are you worried about your symptoms? Whatever the reason for your visit, our dentists at Mount Lawley Dental will help you to feel comfortable and supported as we provide the care you need.

Call us today on (08) 9227 8777 or [book an appointment online]. We also welcome patients from Highgate, Inglewood, North Perth and all nearby areas.

Book Online



  1. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/oral-health
  2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/teeth-care


Your Local Dentists in Mount Lawley