Dentistry has come a long way in the past several decades with innovative advancements in technology and treatment methods. Unfortunately, what hasn’t changed are dental myths and misconceptions. Don’t fall for these foolish fallacies anymore!
“Cavities are caused by soft teeth, which are genetic.”
FALSE. This tall tale probably stems from similarities in the oral health of parents and their children. The truth is, every baby is born without cavity-causing bacteria. These bacteria are passed to children by caregivers when they lick off pacifiers or share utensils. Oral health habits are also passed from caregivers to their children – so it’s likely if a parent practices poor oral health, his or her child will as well.
“Sugar eats tooth enamel, causing cavities.”
FASLE – mostly. The true culprit is the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth called strep mutans. These bacteria convert sugar into enamel-eroding acid. Tooth enamel does not grow back, and once destroyed exposes sensitive dentine to decay. Cutting back on sugary foods provides less fuel for bacteria, and brushing and flossing regularly are vital to keep bacteria – and cavity – counts low.
“Fluoride is bad for you.”
FALSE. Fluoride occurs naturally in nature and, at proper dosage levels, strengthens tooth enamel without negative side effects. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently named the addition of fluoride to many municipal water supplies one of the 10 most important public health advances of the 20th century.
However, ingesting too much fluoride can cause some problems. If a baby receives too much fluoride – a common result of powdered formula being reconstituted with fluoridated water – his or her teeth may come in with a harmless, but unsightly, tooth discoloration called fluorosis. The American Dental Association recommends breast feedings, or reconstituting concentrated formulas with bottled distilled water.
Young children can also ingest too much fluoride by swallowing a large amount of toothpaste instead of spitting, or ingesting flavored toothpaste. Because of this, children should use a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste, and adults should monitor brushing throughout childhood. If fluoride toxicity – characterized by nausea, diarrhea and vomiting – does occur, induce vomiting or give the child milk and call the doctor immediately.
“Oral health is only cosmetic.”
FALSE. Your teeth do more than help you smile. Without them, you couldn’t eat or speak properly, and would most likely experience social and professional side effects as well. Not to mention, a healthy mouth is important for a healthy body. Researchers have found connections between oral health problems and medical problems like diabetes, heart and kidney diseases and premature birth.
“Chewing gum is bad for teeth.”
FALSE. Surprised? As long as gum is sugar-free, chewing gum is actually beneficial to teeth! Studies have shown that chewing gum after meals and snacks – especially in situations when toothbrushing may be impractical – helps reduce the levels of enamel eroding acid in the mouth.
The chewing action, along with the sweet taste, stimulates saliva production, which helps wash food particles away. Chewing sugar-free gum is especially helpful for people with dry mouth – in addition to drinking six to eight glasses of water each day.
However, those experiencing jaw problems like TMJ (temporomandibular syndrome) should stay away.
“Braces are just for kids and teens.”
FALSE. Actually, one out of every five orthodontics patients is an adult. Many adults see braces as a way to finally correct dental problems that have cause pain or embarrassment their whole lives. It’s never too late to correct problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw position or jaw-joint disorders. Braces have come a long way in the last few decades. Braces can be tooth-colored or clear for those who want them to go unnoticed, or personalized with bright colors or gold-plated brackets for those who want to show them off.