Common Dental Conditions and What they Are

At Hawkins Family Dental, we make it our goal to not only provide the highest quality dental service but to also educate our patients. The best defense against tooth decay, gum disease and other serious dental conditions is daily care of your teeth (brushing and flossing) and regular visits to your dentist. Preventative dental care such as regular cleanings and check-ups can help prevent some of these conditions. As always, we take great pride in helping our patients with all aspects of their dental health.

Tooth Decay (Caries)

Tooth Decay is actually the second most prevalent disease in the United States behind the common cold. It occurs when bacterial plaque combines with sugars and starches in the foods we eat. This blend creates acid that attacks tooth enamel and creates cavities. The areas of teeth that are most susceptible to tooth decay are the pits and fissures in the tops of teeth, where plaque can accumulate easily. To fight tooth decay and cavities, brush teeth twice daily and floss at least once. Also make regular trips to the dentist and avoid sugary snacks and drinks.

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Gum (Periodontal) Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums around the teeth. It is also one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. There are two major stages of this disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis usually precedes periodontitis and is caused by bacteria and plaque build up, which causes gum inflammation. Even though gums are irritated, there is usually no irreversible damage. If gingivitis is left untreated, it might lead to periodontitis. At this stage, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from teeth and create pockets. These spaces between the teeth and gums can collect debris and become infected. Infection can begin to break down the gum tissue and bone leading to tooth loss. Regular dental check ups can help diagnose gum disease early.

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Cracked/Fractured Tooth

Cracked or fractured teeth are a common problem that results from structural weakening of the tooth.  Cracks in teeth usually extend deeper into the tooth with time and can result in nerve damage and abscess and/or a complete break.  If you have cold and/or biting sensitivity then you could have a fracture that is beginning to make the nerve in your tooth sick.  An exam by your dentist can diagnose if this is the cause. Many cracks and fractures are not symptomatic until after they cause damage.

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Halitosis, or bad breath can be hard to deal with. According to dental studies though, 85% of people with persistent bad breath can blame a dental condition. From cavities and gum disease, many dental conditions can add an unpleasant odor to your breath. If you constantly use mouthwash to mask bad breath when an issue is present you could be missing a serious condition. If you are suffering from chronic bad breath, visit your dentist to rule out anything problematic.


Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ is when the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles are not functioning properly, which can create chronic pain in the head and neck area. The Temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. These joints are flexible and they allow the jaw to move smoothly while talking, chewing, or yawning. When problems arise with these joints, patients can start to experience pain in the head and neck areas. Although the causes of Temporomandibular joint disorder are unclear, injuries to the jaw, joint, head, or neck could cause you to experience symptoms of the disorder. Other possible causes may include clenching or grinding your teeth (this puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ joint), dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ joint, and stress that involves a patient clenching the teeth or tightening facial or jaw muscles when stressed.

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Oral Cancer

Oral cancer affects millions of people and is a serious and deadly disease. It’s estimated that someone in the United States dies every hour from oral cancer. Each year there are more than 300,000 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed in the world. This dental disease of the mouth, lips and throat is highly curable if diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion is the loss of the structure of the teeth caused by acid attacking the enamel. The signs and symptoms of tooth erosion can range from just sensitivity to more severe issues like damage to the nerves in teeth. Tooth erosion is easily treated when diagnosed early.

Tooth Sensitivity

Do you feel pain or discomfort in your teeth when you take a sip of ice cold water? You might be suffering from tooth sensitivity. Some people with sensitive teeth even feel discomfort when brushing and flossing. Sensitive teeth are usually a result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. It can also be caused by a cavity or cracked/chipped teeth.  Treatment for sensitivity can range from non-invasive (desensitizing toothpaste) all the way to a root canal procedure.


Toothaches are pain in and around a tooth that might be caused by tooth decay, an abscessed tooth, tooth fracture, a damaged filling or even repetitive motions like chewing gum. If you have a toothache or any other dental emergency visit your dentist as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis.

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