Debunking 5 Common Dental Myths

Author: Jeff Salmeri

While dental care is something that we all must do, there are a lot of myths that have formed around it. Poor dental care can lead to a large number of health issues, yet dental care itself is often poorly understood. Here are some of the most common dental myths out there—and the real information you need to know. 

Myth #1: Your first dental visit should be at age 3.

Children should be taken to the dentist when their first tooth comes in. This is very important. Children can't tell you when their teeth hurt. An infant may start to cry or refuse food because their teeth aren't coming in correctly or because they have damage to their gums or teeth, but because they can't verbalize their discomfort, it could go unnoticed. Furthermore, taking children to the dentist early and making it a positive experience will make them less likely to make a fuss later on in their lives. 

After their first visit, most children should have a check up every six months. This check up will catch potential problems early on. While baby teeth themselves may not be permanent, issues with them could eventually cause damage to adult teeth. 

Myth #2: You need to brush your teeth after you eat.

While most people believe that brushing is meant to remove food, it's actual purpose is to remove plaque. Brushing your teeth every time you eat can lead to a process known as over brushing, which ultimately wears away at your tooth enamel and exposes your teeth to risk. Brushing after eating acidic foods also wears down your tooth enamel and can cause the acid to do damage to your teeth. If you've eaten acidic foods (such as fruit) or had an acidic beverage (such as soda or juice), you should wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.

In general. you should be brushing your teeth thoroughly at the beginning and end of the day. Most people do not need hard bristle brushes, but rather a soft or medium bristled brush run over their teeth until their teeth feel clean. 

Myth #3: Sugar causes cavities.

Sugar itself does not cause cavities. Rather, sugar feeds bacteria, and this bacteria is what ultimately leads to cavities. If you're eating a lot of sugar and not managing your plaque, this bacteria has a breeding ground inside of your mouth. Eventually, bacteria leads to tooth decay. 

That means you don't need to avoid sugary foods, you just need to make sure your mouth has been thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis so that bacteria cannot grow. You can counter bacteria through the use of mouth washes, flossing, and (of course) regular brushing.

Myth #4: If your teeth are white and you're not in pain, your teeth are fine.

Not all tooth issues are visible. There's a reason why tooth issues can be quite sudden. Cavities can occur in areas that you can't necessarily see, which means your front teeth could be white while there are cavities nestled between your back teeth. Your enamel could be weak and there could be plaque build up that will eventually lead to tooth issues. Further, gum issues are a significant component to dental care, and they may not always be obvious. Some cavities even occur from the root up and you may not experience pain until they have become quite significant.

Myth #5: You can't get a cavity on a crown or a filling.

Tooth decay can still happen around a filling or under a crown, and because of that the teeth that you have had worked on will need to be periodically checked. It's very important for you to clean around a tooth, as not only do you need to protect it from cavities, but you also need to make sure the gum remains healthy around it. Your teeth penetrate quite a distance underneath your gum line, and it's important that those roots remain healthy if you want to keep your teeth.

Not only is dental health often poorly understood, but dental health does change from time to time as we learn more about how teeth and gums interact with the rest of our body. Preserve your overall health by taking great care of your teeth.                                                    

Posted in: Pediatric Dentistry | Dental Health and Wellness | General and Family Dentistry