Different Types of Oral Health Conditions You Should Be Aware Of

woman holding the right side of her jaw in pain
woman holding the right side of her jaw in pain

There are many kinds of oral health conditions, including ones that are more significant than others. These can negatively affect your self-confidence, oral hygiene, and healthy, beautiful smile.

This article will discuss the plethora of oral health conditions you may be dealing with.


Malocclusion refers to a misaligned bite caused when the upper and lower teeth don’t come together properly when the mouth is closed. In a properly aligned bite, the upper teeth should slightly overlap the lower teeth, with the points of the molars fitting into the grooves of the molars opposite them.

When the teeth don’t fit together in a proper bite, it can cause difficulty with eating and speaking and may lead to potential health problems, such as increasing the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease. An improper bite can also cause irregular enamel wear or jaw problems.

Causes of Malocclusion

Often, malocclusion is inherited and passed down through families through genetics. It can result from the size or shape of the jaw or teeth, causing teeth to be overcrowded or come together abnormally. Sometimes, malocclusion results from missing or extra teeth, which has caused the other teeth to shift positions. A misaligned bite can also result from childhood thumb-sucking or prolonged pacifier or bottle use.

Symptoms of Malocclusion

Malocclusion is often noticeable by appearance, but other symptoms may indicate an improperly-aligned bite. Some symptoms include:

  • Visible misalignment of teeth – Crowded teeth, crossbite, overbite, underbite, open bite
  • Abnormal appearance of the face
  • Difficulties with chewing and biting
  • Speech impediments or a lisp
  • Mouth-breathing


How to Treat Malocclusion 

Teeth that are perfectly aligned naturally are rare, and not all misaligned teeth will require treatment. It is best to check with your dentist or an orthodontist to find out what may be needed in your case. Typically, malocclusion can be addressed via orthodontic treatment such as traditional braces or clear aligner trays such as Invisalign. If the improper bite is due to irregularly shaped teeth, these issues can be treated via reshaping the enamel or through dental bonding. When teeth are overcrowded, tooth extraction may be recommended to make more room. Surgery is sometimes called for in cases where reshaping the jaw is the best way to address significant bite issues.

Bruised Teeth

While most people are familiar with bruises, it may be strange to consider the idea that a tooth can be bruised. However, your teeth have connective tissues and ligaments that hold them in place and cushion them against the forces they are subjected to during regular use. On occasion, when a tooth has been put under too much pressure or has experienced trauma, these tissues can become damaged or inflamed. This is known as a bruised tooth or sprained tooth syndrome.

Like a bodily bruise, a bruised tooth can happen from an injury. This can result from a sports injury, a blow to the mouth, or things like biting down on a hard object or tooth grinding. The surrounding connective tissue will attempt to absorb the impact, but the capillaries around the tooth will burst, leading to discoloration—much like any other type of bruise. Some degree of pain in the area may result as well.

The discoloration of a bruised tooth is usually a shade that varies between pink and gray. This color may indicate the amount of damage the tooth has sustained. The pink color typically indicates that the tooth is in a stage where it is attempting to protect the nerve, though it can also be a sign of problems with the root of the tooth, so it is not safe to make an assumption based on color alone. The gray shade is a more likely indicator that the pulp of the tooth is dying, and there is a risk of decay or infection.

In all cases, you should contact the dentist to have an examination.

Symptoms of a Bruised Tooth

The first symptom you may notice with a bruised or sprained tooth is a dull, achy pain in the general area, similar to a sprained ligament. Alternatively, the pain may be explicitly located in the affected tooth, where it may be sharper.

The tooth may become discolored—turning between pink and gray, as mentioned above—and the surrounding gums could become sensitive and inflamed.

It may be difficult to distinguish the pain of a bruised tooth from toothache resulting from infection or tooth decay, so we recommend having your tooth looked at by the dentist.

How to Treat a Bruised Tooth

Whenever a tooth shows signs of trauma, it is best to make an appointment to examine it. 

X-rays will likely be taken to assess damage that might not be visible, and your mouth will be checked for loose teeth, sensitivity, or hidden problems like an abscess. Treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. In cases where the bruised tooth results from teeth grinding, it may be recommended that you wear a nightguard to protect your teeth and ligaments from further damage. Mouthguards for sports are always advised to protect teeth.

In many other cases, recovery for a bruised tooth will simply come down to giving the tooth time to heal. Over-the-counter modifications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help with the pain from inflammation, and you should avoid further strain on the area if at all possible. Make sure you follow the treatment plan provided by the dentist to make sure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

Tooth Abscess

A tooth abscess happens when a bacterial infection causes a pocket of pus to form around a tooth. Abscesses have many causes and can affect not just the tooth but the surrounding tissue and bone as well. Abscesses may even affect adjacent teeth. The types of abscesses are determined by where they are located. The three most common are:

  • Periapical Abscess: An abscess is located at the tip of the root of the tooth. These are often the result of bacteria entering the pulp of the tooth through a cavity or fracture.
  • Periodontal Abscess: An abscess in the gum tissue that supports the tooth. These often result from gum disease and can spread to the surrounding area.
  • Gingival Abscess: An abscess in the gum tissue. These usually do not affect the tooth directly.


Tooth infections must be treated, as they can otherwise spread to the jawbone, tissues of the face and neck, and even to the heart and brain in rare cases.

Symptoms of Abscessed Teeth

Symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Throbbing pain near tooth or gums
  • Pain that increases when you lie down
  • Pain when eating
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Swelling in the face
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or jaw
  • Fever
  • Difficulty in swallowing or breathing



Treatment is vital to eliminate the infection and prevent further health complications. Treatment methods include:

Draining the abscess

A small incision will be made to allow for the pus to be drained. Once completed, the area will be cleaned with a saline solution.

Root canal therapy

If the tooth’s pulp is infected, root canal therapy can be used to remove the infection. A crown will typically be used to protect the tooth after the procedure.

Tooth extraction

If the damage to the tooth is too significant, making saving it with root canal therapy impossible, an extraction may be performed instead. The extraction will also allow the abscess to be drained.


Depending on the extent of the infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics to help eliminate the remaining bacteria.

Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth or fractured tooth is a common problem. Teeth can crack due to biting on hard foods and teeth grinding, and may even happen over time due to aging. The extent of these cracks can range from minor and mostly harmless to cracks that can cause the entire tooth to split into two or more parts. In all cases, a dental professional should examine the crack as soon as possible to determine what treatment is required.

Cracks can happen in the crown of the tooth (the part above the gum line), or the root of the tooth (the part below the gum line). They can affect only one or all three of the layers of the tooth: enamel, dentin, and pulp. The teeth most likely to develop fractures are the front upper teeth and the mandibular molars, which are teeth toward the back of your lower jaw. Cavities and/or injuries can increase the likeliness and extent of damage of a tooth fracture.

Symptoms of Cracked Teeth

While not every crack will result in pain or symptoms, some of the ones that do may result in:

– Pain while biting or chewing

– Toothache that comes and goes

– Sensitivity to temperature changes or sweet foods

– Swelling around the tooth

– Pain around the teeth and gums that is difficult to locate

Types and Treatment

Different types of cracks may require different treatments. This is due to the location and extent of the crack.

Craze Lines

These small cracks do not go past the tooth’s enamel. They are very shallow and cause no pain. Craze lines are common in adults and usually are no more than cosmetic concerns.

Fractured Cusp

The cusp is part of the chewing surface of the tooth. Cracks here can often happen on teeth that have a filling. Fortunately, these usually aren’t painful and don’t damage the tooth’s pulp. Dental bonding or a new filling can repair the damage, or a crown might be suggested to protect the tooth.

Cracked Crown

Usually, when a dentist talks about a cracked tooth, they’re referring to a crack that extends vertically from the chewing surface of the crown down toward the root of the tooth. This type of crack is at risk of spreading if not treated early. If the crack damages the pulp of the tooth, saving the tooth may require root canal therapy.

The important thing is addressing the crack before it reaches the tooth’s root. If the crack reaches the root, it may no longer be possible to save the tooth, and an extraction could be recommended.

Split Tooth

Often, the result of a cracked tooth that has progressed, a split tooth happens with a fracture breaks the tooth into distinct parts. The location of the split will determine what parts of the tooth, if any, can be saved. Root canal treatment can sometimes be enough to save part of the tooth.

Vertical Root Fracture

These cracks begin at the tooth’s root and begin spreading toward the chewing surface. Because of their location, they can easily go unnoticed and may only be discovered when the surrounding tissue becomes infected. Extraction of the tooth is the likely course of treatment, though, in some cases, a portion of the tooth may be saved through root canal therapy.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a common degenerative oral health condition resulting in tooth enamel erosion. The foods we eat contain sugars and starches. When combined with the bacteria in our mouths, plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth. Plaque produces acids that damage the surface of the teeth, resulting in holes called dental caries or cavities. The National Institutes of Health reports that 92% of adults aged 20 to 64 have had at least one cavity.


Cavities are holes in teeth resulting from tooth decay and can affect people of all ages. As they are often tied to poor dental hygiene habits, they tend to be most common in children still learning how to brush and floss. However, adults can get cavities as well. New cavities can form around the edges of areas of the tooth where previous cavities were filled in childhood, and receding gums from periodontal disease can expose lower portions of the teeth that do not have enamel and were previously protected from decay by the gums.

While tooth decay typically starts with the enamel of the tooth, it can affect all of the layers. The enamel is the hard outer surface of the tooth, followed by the dentin in the middle, and, lastly, the pulp, which contains the blood supply and nerve endings of the tooth. A cavity can take around three years to form in the enamel but will progress much faster through the softer inner layers of the tooth. Cavities do not cause any pain when they are in the enamel of the tooth, so without regular dental exams, they can go unnoticed until they have grown deeper and more severe.

Cavities are usually categorized by what part of the tooth they develop on and the extent of the decay. Cavity types include:

Smooth Surface

These cavities form on the smooth surfaces of the teeth and are most often found in the spaces between teeth where toothbrushes have trouble reaching. Flossing and regular professional cleanings are the best way to prevent these from forming.

Pit and Fissure

These cavities form on the tops of molars, in the crevices of chewing surfaces where food and plaque can be more complicated to remove. They tend to be more of a problem for people who don’t brush as often as they should or those with poor brushing technique. Dental sealants are a good preventative measure against these types of cavities, as they can fill in the deeper areas and make it easier to keep the tops of the teeth clean.

Root Decay

The hard enamel of teeth takes the longest to be affected by dental decay, but as we grow older, we are more susceptible to periodontal disease and gum recession. This exposes the softer dentin layer previously protected beneath the gum line. Root cavities result from tooth decay forming on these portions of the tooth.

Symptoms of Tooth Decay

Some of the common symptoms of tooth decay include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Toothache/oral pain
  • Pain when biting down
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensitivity to sweet foods or drinks
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Visible holes or pits in teeth
  • Treatment of Tooth Decay


How to Treat Decay

How tooth decay is treated depends on the severity of the decay. Here are some options that will help:


Useful in preventing cavities from forming in areas that you may find yourself having trouble keeping clean, sealants cover the surface of molars with a plastic material that fills in pits and crevices where toothbrushes may struggle to reach.


If tooth decay is caught early enough, fluoride treatments can be used to help remineralize the tooth enamel. You may also be asked to use a prescription toothpaste or mouthwash that will help restore the minerals that acid has removed from your tooth enamel.


When cavities have caused damage to the tooth enamel, it’s important to remove the decayed portion of the tooth to halt any further progress of the cavity. The removed portion of the enamel can then be repaired with a dental filling.


After the infection has been addressed, a crown may be recommended if the tooth decay has affected a large portion of the tooth where using only a filling would leave the structure vulnerable to cracks. The crowns replace the tooth enamel, covering and protecting the entire top of the tooth.

Root Canal Therapy

Sometimes, when tooth decay is not addressed soon enough, it can reach the inner parts of the tooth and cause pain and severe problems. Root canal therapy removes the infected pulp from the tooth’s center and replaces it with a rubber-like material that prevents bacteria from getting back in.


For cases where a tooth can’t be saved through root canal therapy, you may require an extraction to remove the infected tooth. Depending on the location of the tooth, your dentist may recommend a restoration, such as a dental implant or bridge, to prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting due to the gap.

Chipped Tooth

A tooth’s enamel can occasionally chip due to excessive force or regular wear and tear. Depending on the location and severity of the chip, it can be more than a cosmetic issue, resulting in pain or sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

Chipped teeth differ from cracked teeth in that the tooth has broken, so a large or small piece of enamel has fragmented off.

What Causes Teeth to Chip?

Common causes of chipped teeth include:

  • Biting on hard food or other substances
  • Accidents of falls, including sports injuries
  • Teeth grinding
  • Misaligned bite
  • Tongue or mouth piercings


Teeth enamel is one of the strongest substances in the body, but teeth can be weakened by several things, making them more prone to chipping. Some things that can put you at greater risk of chipping a tooth include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Large fillings
  • Worn enamel due to bruxism
  • Eating acidic foods
  • Eating foods high in sugar (which causes acid to form in the mouth)
  • Acid reflux
  • Normal enamel wear over time


Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth

It’s possible not to realize that you have a chipped tooth if the chip is minor or not somewhere you can easily see. Here are some possible signs you may encounter, however:

  • Noticing a jagged surface with your tongue—tongue irritation from rubbing the surface
  • Gums may become irritated around the chipped tooth
  • There can be pain when biting on the tooth if the chip exposes the nerves of the tooth


Treatment Options for Chipped Teeth

If you suspect you may have a chipped tooth, contact your dentist for an exam. If you are experiencing no significant pain or issues with eating, this may not be an emergency, but it’s a good idea to have it addressed in a timely way so as to prevent the enamel damage from getting worse or an infection from developing, depending on the nature of the chip the tooth.


If you can save the tooth fragment, it can be cemented back into place. If this is the case, place the tooth fragment in a glass of milk to help keep it moist.

Tooth Contouring

This method is used for shallow chips. The dentist will remove a small amount of the tooth’s enamel, smoothing out the surface of your tooth and making it look as though nothing ever happened.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a typical treatment option for addressing a chip in a tooth. Bonding uses a tooth-colored composite resin to fill in the chipped area and restore the tooth to its original shape.


Depending on the visibility and extent of the tooth damage, a veneer is another possible treatment option. Veneers cover the entire front-facing portion of the tooth with a thin layer of porcelain, giving the tooth a new appearance.

Better Your Oral Health at Twin Dental

Many conditions can negatively impact oral health, but many solutions exist. At Twin Dental, we can help with all oral health conditions, regardless of their significance. 

Don’t wait—regain your self-confidence and contact us today!


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