Some of the dental myths were made up as a result of the unnecessary stress and anxiety that build up around dentists and dental health – as a way to help explain or alleviate the dental issues. And most of the time, people choose to believe these myths rather than find out the truth, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.
The following lists some of the common dental myths and facts about causes, prevention and treatment of cavities.
Myth: Cavities are caused mainly by sugar.
Truth: An American Dental Association consumer advisor, Kimberly A. Harms, DDS explains that acid produced by bacteria in your mouth is what causes cavity. However, when you eat anything with carbohydrates (sugar is carbohydrate), these bacteria are triggered to produce acid. Other carbs are rice, potatoes, fruits, breads, and vegetables.
Fact: Exposure to Acidic Foods, Like Lemons, Causes Tooth Decay
Truth: Acidic foods such as citrus fruits and juices or soft drinks are not the cause of cavities but they will damage your enamel leading to tooth decay. Acids can weaken your tooth and damage the enamel. Losing the tooth’s enamel protection and exposing the dentin will increase your susceptibility to decay.
Myth: Kids Are a Lot More Likely to Get Cavities Than Adults
Truth: Sealants, fluoridated water and preventive care all help to cut decay in school-aged children by half in the last 20 years. In the case of senior citizens though, there has been an increased incidence of cavities. This may have been caused by different circumstances such as effects of medicines being taken that dry the mouth out and reduce saliva production. Saliva helps fight tooth decay because it neutralizes acids.
Myth: Aspirin Placed Next to a Tooth Will Help a Toothache
Truth: Aspirin swallowed will help reduce toothache pain. If you place aspirin beside the tooth, you can burn your gum tissue because aspirin is acidic. The inflamed gum tissue will cause an abscess. Aspirin is always swallowed.
Myth: All Fillings Eventually Need Replacing
Truth: Replacement of an amalgam or composite filling is only required in the event that it breaks down or a cavity forms around it, or if the tooth fractures. Otherwise, the same filling can be kept for life. While fillings have life expectancy, good oral hygiene habits, flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and using a mouth rinse will lessen the risk of tooth decay. Therefore the fillings may last longer.
Myth: If You Have a Cavity, You’ll Know It
Truth: No symptoms are observed with mild tooth decay. Only when tooth decay is in a more advanced stage does pain manifest. This is because tooth decay is already causing damage to the nerve which is causing you to feel the pain and associate it with cavities. If you wait for the symptoms to manifest, tooth decay has already advanced and it can lead to much more expensive dental procedures. This is the reason why the dentist has to regularly check your teeth.