You’ve probably heard lots of dental advice from friends, coworkers, and family members, but just because other people say it doesn’t mean it’s actually true. In fact, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about dental health and seeing a dentist.
Don’t just accept things blindly. Check your knowledge against this list of myths, and you’re sure to improve your oral health habits.
I have to give up sugar
While it certainly doesn’t help teeth, sugar itself isn’t the main cause of tooth decay. The real problem is when bacteria in your mouth produce acid, which wears down tooth enamel.
Carbohydrates (like sugar) causes this to happen. Too many carbohydrates – found in grains, refined sugar, fruits, and starchy vegetables – can upset the natural bacteria balance in your mouth and lead to plaque buildup. This problem tends to be exacerbated when carbohydrate residue is allowed to sit on teeth for long periods of time.
Because of this, your best bet is to eat sugary foods and other carbohydrates with a whole meal. This will lessen the negative impact that they will have on your teeth. Then – and this is the most important part – follow the meal up with a big glass of water to wash away any remaining food residue on your teeth, and if possible brush them as well.
Whitening treatments will weaken my teeth
All whitening treatments, whether at home or at the dentist’s office, may cause a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity. However, when used in moderation, whitening treatments are safe for your teeth.
The danger with at-home whitening kits is using them too often, which can cause damage in extreme cases. If teeth whitening is important to you, check with your dentist about the safest options available.
All mouthwashes are the same
Mouthwashes that contain alcohol can dry out your mouth and upset the natural balance of good bacteria. This is of special concern if you are already dealing with dry mouth as a side effect from medications. Dry mouth can eventually lead to tooth loss, so it’s important to consult with your dentist if you’re experiencing the problem.
Bottom line? Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash to keep your mouth healthy.
My wisdom teeth need to be removed
If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing any pain or problems, you may want to consider leaving them in. Japanese researchers are finding that wisdom teeth contain stem cells which may be used to grow new teeth. This could be a huge benefit to you if you experience tooth loss in the future.
Bleeding gums are totally normal
If your gums are bleeding on a weekly basis, that’s an indication to make a dental appointment. Inflamed gums can lead to an advanced condition called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. Your dentist can help you if your gums are inflamed.
Cavities will go away on their own
If you see a dark spot on a tooth, don’t delay your call to the dentist’s office. A dark spot may or may not indicate a cavity, and your dentist will know the difference.
If it is a cavity, not only will it not go away on its own – it will continue to get worse. In fact, if you leave it untreated for long enough, the bacteria will reach the tooth’s nerve and cause it to will die.
At that point you will need a root canal or a tooth extraction – both measures that could have been avoided by seeing a dentist at the first sign of a cavity.
Injections will hurt so much that I’m not interested
New techniques and medications have eliminated the need for painful injections in your gums.
Your dentist will use calming techniques to help you get your mind off your pain. They will advise you about which painkillers will be most effective. Vibration technology can ease your pain and provide a less traumatic experience.
I don’t have pain, so I don’t need to see a dentist
Consistent dental visits, preferably once or twice per year, help monitor problems before you can see them. For example, you may not realize that your gums are inflamed, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
If caught in the early stages, your dentist can offer suggestions to strengthen the gum tissues. Many other issues can be detected and treated in the early stages as well, long before you experience debilitating pain.