16 Common Dental Problems and Treatment Options

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At Brentwood Dental Art in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA, we want our patients and their families to enjoy healthy smiles for life. By understanding the most common dental problems—and what causes them—you can help limit your risk of oral health issues and know the best way to treat them.

Below is a list of some of the most common dental issues that we see at our Brentwood practice.

1. Tooth Decay

Symptoms of cavities may include tooth sensitivity, food getting caught in your teeth, or something feeling “off” whenever you bite down. In truth, most cavities are not visible in their earliest stages, which is why routine digital X-rays are an essential part of screening for tooth decay. It’s extremely common for cavities to never cause pain or sensitivity, even if they are in advanced stages of decay.

Best Treatment: Dental Fillings

Early treatment ensures that cavities do not spread deeper into the tooth or adjacent teeth. If small cavities go unaddressed, treatments such as fillings will evolve into scenarios where crowns or root canal therapy is necessary. At Brentwood Dental Art, our Brentwood dentist offers tooth-colored fillings that blend in with the natural shade of your smile.

2. Gingivitis and Bleeding Gums

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Thankfully, it’s 100% reversible when you catch and treat it early. Symptoms include sore, swollen, bleeding gums.

Best Treatment: Daily Flossing and Proper Brushing

It’s nearly impossible to reverse gingivitis symptoms without flossing around your teeth each day. Floss cleans between the teeth and under the gumlines, where bacteria collect. Angling your toothbrush toward the gums and gently stimulating the tissues is also helpful.

3. Periodontal Disease

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Symptoms include receding gums, gaps between teeth, bad breath, visible tartar buildup, and swollen or bleeding gums. This severe dental infection is known to statistically increase a person’s chances of suffering from the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Infertility and ED

…and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

Best Treatment: Deep Cleaning

The only way to treat periodontal disease is to remove the source of infection: the buildup and necrotic tissues between your teeth and below the surfaces of the gums. A series of deep cleanings will help establish a healthier environment for you to maintain at home with daily brushing and flossing. In severe cases, gum surgery or tooth extractions may be required.

4. Abscessed Tooth

Dental abscesses are the result of infected nerves inside the tooth. When the nerve is contaminated by decay-causing bacteria, it starts to swell and may cause a visible blister on the gums next to the tooth. It’s also common for the tooth to change color and become darker than its neighbors.

Best Treatment: Root Canal Therapy

While an antibiotic can temporarily relieve some swelling and bacterial levels, root canal therapy (endodontic treatment) is the only permanent solution to treat abscessed teeth and prevent total tooth loss.

5. Enamel Erosion

Enamel is susceptible to erosion when exposed to high levels of acid. For instance, unmanaged reflux disease or GERD, or a high intake of acidic drinks can gradually wear through the outer layer of your teeth.

Best Treatment: Preventing Additional Erosion

By addressing your diet and oral hygiene habits, we can identify the source of enamel erosion and take steps to prevent it. If the erosion is severe, our Brentwood dentist may recommend restorative treatment such as dental bonding or a full-coverage crown.

6. Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Active gum disease or heavy buildup between your teeth—as well as buildup on your tongue—are the most common causes of bad breath. Allergies are a runner up!

Best Treatment: Dental Cleaning and Improved Oral Hygiene

Schedule a professional dental cleaning. If you have active periodontal disease, this step is essential. We will also show you how to floss each day and recommend using a tongue scraper to reduce bacterial levels in your mouth.

7. Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth have tiny pores and nerve endings, so it’s not uncommon to experience sensitivity when there are temperature changes, gum recession, or even cavities. However, the type of tooth sensitivity you’re experiencing will determine the cause and best treatment.

Best Treatment: Sensitive Toothpaste

If you’re using any whitening products, stop. Use sensitivity toothpaste twice a day for two weeks. If symptoms do not improve or you’re experiencing sensitivity to hot temperatures, contact Brentwood Dental Art at your earliest convenience.

8. Chipped, Worn, or Broken Teeth

Teeth are strong, but they aren’t invincible. Athletic injuries or bumps to the mouth can easily crack or break your enamel, especially if you aren’t wearing a mouthguard.

Best Treatment: Restorative Filling, Bonding, or Crown

Broken or exposed tooth enamel is susceptible to additional tooth wear and breakage, so it’s important to cover and restore that area as soon as possible. Our Brentwood dentist will review all of the appropriate options with you, such as a new filling or crown.

9. TMJ Disorder

TMJ pain can cause severe headaches, earaches, joint popping and clicking, and limited range of motion (making it difficult to eat or talk.) It can be caused by issues like clenching your teeth, stress, or misaligned teeth, which cause your jaws to move atypically whenever you’re biting and chewing food.

Best Treatment: Non-Surgical Intervention

Effective non-surgical TMJ treatments can include bite splints, physical therapy, moist heat, massage, and addressing underlying teeth grinding habits. Orthodontic therapy may also be recommended to ensure your teeth fit together properly.

10. Gum Recession

Receding gumlines can expose tooth roots, increasing your risk of tooth sensitivity, mobility, and tooth decay. Recession is usually due to gum disease, aggressive toothbrushing, or even periodontal infections. Severely misaligned teeth may also show signs of receding gumlines due to tension in the tissues.

Best Treatment: Gum Grafting

First, address the cause of your recession and take steps to eliminate it. If the area is severe, it’s crucial to cover the tooth root with a gum graft. In some cases, small amounts of dental bonding can be used to cover the tooth root.

11. Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Teeth clenching and grinding is known as “bruxism.” It can be the result of stress, TMJ disorder, or even medications that you’re taking. Some of us clench our teeth while we’re focusing or driving, while others do it subconsciously in their sleep.

Best Treatment: Nightguard or Bite Splint

In addition to addressing the effects of stress of tooth misalignment, options like bite splints or injectables are very effective. Bite splints and nightguards are typically the first line of treatment, as they reduce muscle tension in your jaw and protect the teeth against any further wear.

12. Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth is a common side effect of most medications, including over-the-counter drugs. It can also be amplified by aging, cancer treatments, and mouth breathing. Unfortunately, chronic dry mouth predisposes you to a higher risk of cavities and bad breath. It can also make it painful to wear a denture.

Best Treatment: Moisturizing Products and Staying Hydrated

Sugar-free mints and gums can help promote saliva production. There are also specific brands of products on the market made to moisturize your mouth and limit tissue irritation. We also recommend sipping on water frequently throughout the day.

13. Crooked or Gapped Teeth

Misaligned teeth raise your chances of cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, dental emergencies, and TMJ disorder. They also pose a cosmetic concern.

Best Treatment: Clear Aligners or Braces

Gentle orthodontic aligners or braces safely move your teeth into the desired location without physically altering the shape and health of your tooth structure. Depending on your situation, our Brentwood dentist will usually be able to complete your treatment between 6-18 months; we can provide you with an estimated timeframe during your orthodontic evaluation.

14. Dark, Yellow, Stained Teeth

Tooth discoloration can be caused by things like the types of foods and drinks you expose your enamel to (such as coffee or tea,) genetic factors, and even medications that you’re taking.

Best Treatment: Teeth Whitening or Veneers

Depending on the severity of your tooth discoloration, the first step is usually a professional strength whitening treatment. These products are stronger for more noticeable results. If the staining is severe, a set of veneers may provide faster and more dramatic results.

15. Broken Dental Work

Occasionally we see new areas of tooth decay or broken enamel around existing crowns or fillings. In these scenarios, biting on something hard—or even sticky—may break or pull out the restoration.

Best Treatment: New Filling or Crown

Make a plan to have your broken dental work replaced as quickly as possible. If the area is small, our Brentwood dentist may be able to place a new filling in that area. Larger areas or broken dental work paired with additional tooth damage may require more comprehensive restorations, such as a crown. In severe cases involving deep fractures, endodontic (root canal) therapy may also be necessary.

16. Missing Teeth

Missing teeth may be due to a history of gum disease, accidental trauma (such as a car wreck or athletic injury,) or a result of non-restorable tooth decay. But when a tooth is extracted or missing, it creates a visible open space in your smile. While aesthetics may seem like the primary concern, this new space can significantly alter the alignment of your surrounding and opposing teeth. If the tooth is not promptly replaced, the neighboring teeth will likely begin to tilt out of alignment, and the opposing tooth could “super-erupt” from the gums in an attempt to find a biting partner. Unfortunately, misaligned teeth also increase your risk for TMJ disorder, cavities, and periodontal disease.

Best Treatment: Dental Implants

There are a lot of options available for replacing missing teeth, such as dentures, partial dentures, and bridges. But dental implants offer the most innovative and permanent solution when it comes to restoring your natural smile. That’s because implants mimic the shape and function of anatomical teeth and are non-invasive to your neighboring tooth structures.

Reserve Your Exam Today

If you have concerns about your smile or want a second opinion, contact Brentwood Dental Art today to request an appointment. Our dentist in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA, will be happy to answer any questions you have and provide professional insight related to your unique oral health concerns.


Do I have more than one option to treat my dental problem?

At Brentwood Dental Art, our Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA dentist will always present each appropriate treatment option for your given condition. We believe the better informed you are about your care, the more comfortable you’ll feel about selecting the best treatment for your circumstances.

Why do I need to treat my tooth if it doesn’t hurt?

It’s fairly common for dental issues such as cavities, gum disease, or abscessed teeth to be completely asymptomatic (that is, not causing any pain.) But pain is not a good determining factor when it comes to the severity of the disease. If there is active decay or infection, treatment needs to be as prompt as possible to prevent the disease from spreading.

What financing options are available?

In addition to accepting major dental insurance benefits, affordable monthly payment options are available for most treatments. These include low and 0% interest financing opportunities, so you won’t have to delay your care.

What’s the best way to lower the cost of my dental care?

The absolute best way to reduce your total out-of-pocket dental costs is to practice a good preventative care routine, schedule regular checkups, and early intervention when dental issues are diagnosed. Early treatments are more conservative for the tooth and also cost less. By preventing issues before they start—and treating them while they’re small—you can do both your smile and your wallet a favor.