If the state of your mouth is getting you down, you’re not alone. According to a recent Children’s Dental Health Project survey, more than 40% of people “believe they have little or no control over whether they get a cavity.”
If you fall into that 40%, this post is for you. For while habits certainly impact oral health, sometimes the biggest obstacle can be our own thoughts.
Why so many of us feel dentally disempowered is one thing. More important is the fact that we can move forward and create a new dental vision.
Whether you’re looking to set an example for your kids or looking for ways to turn your own dental health around, some myth-busting may help you take action.
8 Crazy-Making Dental Myths That Deserve to Get Busted
MYTH #1: I don’t have any control over the cavities I get.
In fact, you are always in control of your oral health. We can educate. We can make recommendations. But it’s up to you to make sure you understand your options and follow through on your home care and treatment. It’s up to you to make healthful choices – in diet, in hygiene, in lifestyle – that affect your well-being. Your know yourself better than anyone else, after all. YOU are your own best advocate.
MYTH #2: Only kids get decay.
Decay happens to most everyone at some time in their lives, for many reasons. For instance, decay in adults can occur when old fillings fail, fracture, or loosen. Drugs can affect the quality of saliva in our mouths and increase vulnerability to caries. A diet high in sugar and refined carbs can do it, of course, along with poor cleaning practices at home and skipping out on regular exams and cleaning.
MYTH #3: Sugar is the only thing that causes decay.
While diet plays a big role, harmful bacteria and other pathogens are the real villains. Any fermentable carbohydrate you eat can provide fuel for them especially if it sticks to or between them for a while. Sugar makes things easier for harmful microbes, but any carbohydrate that sits on your teeth – think white flour products, starches, and hyper-processed carbs – will provide fuel.
MYTH #4: Acidic foods cause tooth decay.
Some of our clients drink lemon juice as part of a program to alkalinize their bodies. Others may drink fruit juices, flavored teas, energy drinks, smart drinks – even regular soda. The acids in these foods don’t cause decay. They do erode the enamel on your teeth, and that gives pathogens easy access to the delicate tissues enamel normally protects.
MYTH #5: You don’t need to fill baby teeth; they’re just going to fall out anyway.
When young children come in with decay, we know it can be hard to feel like fillings are a wise investment. Truth is, baby teeth hold the space for permanent teeth. Without these natural spacers, permanent teeth may come in out of position. Future orthodontic care is a real possibility. More, left untreated, these teeth can develop infection and abscesses. When recommending treatment on baby teeth, we try to be conservative, taking the child’s age and tooth development into account. In some cases, these restorations can be put off, but not always.
MYTH #6: My teeth don’t hurt, so I can’t have a cavity.
Not all decay hurts. Small areas may not be noticeable at all. When your tooth hurts, it’s generally because decay has advanced through the enamel and dentin layers, into the pulp chamber. At that point, it can kill nerves within the tooth. There’ll be no more pain, but there’s still severe infection. Tooth loss becomes a real possibility.
MYTH #7: Only fluoride toothpaste will prevent cavities.
It isn’t what’s in toothpaste that prevents cavities. It’s using it to completely break up the plaque on your teeth at least once every 24 hours. The grit in toothpaste just makes the job a little easier. Good brushing technique is the main thing – along with using an oral irrigator, eating well, and otherwise making healthful choices. If you use toothpaste, fluoride-free is the way to go.
MYTH #8: The silver fillings in my mouth are safe.
So not true. “Silver” is just a friendly name for mercury amalgam fillings. All “silver” fillings actually contain about 50% mercury, a known neurotoxin (i.e., poison for the nervous system and brain). Every time you chew, mercury vapor is released. Mercury is also an environmental toxin, as well. Its toxicity is why we don’t use it in our office and follow stringent safety measures whenever we must remove amalgam fillings.
Image by Joe Penna