Oral health problems in adults are growing at a concerning rate. According to the CDC, 26 percent of adults in the United States suffer from untreated tooth decay, and 46 percent of all adults over the age of 30 are showing signs of gum disease. In addition, poor oral health has been associated with other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

From tooth decay and gum disease to oral cancer and stained teeth, there are many common dental conditions present in today’s adults. In many cases, preventive dentistry can keep these conditions at bay. Let’s take a look at the most common dental conditions in adults.


These are essentially little holes in your teeth. They form when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth, which slowly destroys the hard outer shell known as enamel. Many adults have problems with tooth decay right at the gum line or around the edges of fillings. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and using a fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing, limiting snacks, rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash, and staying on top of your regular dental appointments can all help to keep cavities away.

The CDC says that 90 percent of adults 20 and older have had at least one cavity, while one in four adults between the ages of 20 and 64 has at least one cavity.


If your gums are tender and bleed easily, or are starting to pull away from your teeth, you may have gum disease (AKA gingivitis). This is caused by a buildup of plaque below the gum line. When neglected, it can lead to bone loss and shifting or loosening of the teeth. Gum disease also makes it more difficult to chew and speak. To avoid developing gum disease, brush and floss regularly and be sure to rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash every day.

Almost half (46 percent) of adults over the age of 30 show signs of gum disease, while severe gum disease affects nine percent of adults.

Stained Teeth

Over time, many adults experience yellowing of the teeth due to certain foods and medications, as well as tobacco use and even trauma. Luckily, this can be addressed with teeth whitening. You can choose to have your dentist do this in the office, or you can opt for take-home trays or purchase an OTC product. Just keep in mind that whitening toothpastes and rinses will only remove surface stains.

Bad Breath

The fancy name for bad breath is halitosis, and it happens to be one of the most common adult dental problems. Bad breath is caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Foods
  • Medication
  • Dry mouth
  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Acid reflux

It’s most likely that the foods you eat are causing your halitosis; garlic and onions are the most common culprits. Bring this up at your next dental visit; he or she can perform an exam and recommend the best course of action.


As we age, our teeth get increasingly sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages. That happens with the gradual wearing away of tooth enamel, which exposes the dentin. This dentin has tubes leading to the nerves deeper inside the teeth, whereby hot or cold substances travel along them and cause pain.

Tooth sensitivity is also called dentin hypersensitivity, and it’s usually caused by tooth decay. Other causes include:

  • Gum disease
  • Infected roots
  • Cracked or broken teeth
  • Worn-down crowns or fillings
  • Receding gums
  • Enamel erosion
  • Naturally thin enamel layer

Choose toothpastes and mouthwashes designed for sensitive teeth, or ask your dentist for a fluoride treatment. Your dentist may also feel a gum graft, crown, or root canal is in order; it will all depend on the severity of the situation.

Cracked or Broken Teeth

From injury and chewing hard foods to mouth piercings and grinding your teeth while sleeping, cracked or broken teeth can arise from a number of circumstances. Cracked and broken teeth can be very painful, depending on how bad the damage is. Your dentist can examine and treat them with veneers, crowns, or tooth-colored fillings.

Receding Gums

Receding gums can result in more serious issues, such as tooth loss. That’s because the root of the tooth is exposed, putting your tooth at risk of damage. Receding gums can also be caused by:

  • Brushing your teeth too hard
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal fluctuations in women
  • Genetics

Book Your Next Appointment With Ashby Dental in Elmwood

If you are an adult suffering from any of the above conditions, or just want to maintain your oral health with a six-month cleaning, book an appointment today online or call us at (510) 549-0133. We are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA, open Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.