skeptic or scep·tic
a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual
Skeptics question everything before they believe it. But it’s not that skeptics don’t believe anything to be true, they just need solid research before they are convinced of it. Are you a skeptic, or do you have one in your life? Here’s the truth behind eight dental myths.
Dental Myth 1: Sugar Rots Your Teeth
Everyone has heard this one since they were kids. But the reality is, that it isn’t the amount of sugar one eats that is the problem, it is how long the sugar stays on your teeth. It is not the sugar itself that does the damage, but rather the chain of events that takes place after you consume sugar filled foods or drink. Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth that use sugar from foods and drinks to produce acids that dissolve and damage the teeth.
Dental Myth 2: Gum Disease is Rare
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show high prevalence of periodontal disease in the United States population. Statistics show that 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 show signs of periodontal disease. The condition is more common in men than women, those living below the federal poverty level, those with less than a high school education , and current smokers (64.2%) Regular dental check-ups twice a year can help determine the severity and treatment. Red, swollen gums that easily bleed and bad breath are just a few signs of gum disease.
Dental Myth 3: You Should Not Go to the Dentist During Pregnancy
The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to get dental care while pregnant. During pregnancy, your dramatically changing hormones can affect your oral health. Many pregnant women are concerned about receiving x-rays during this time and skip their regularly scheduled appointments but they shouldn’t. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Dental Myth 4: Diabetics Require the Same Dental Care as Everyone Else
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that lead to high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia), which is caused when the body does not make any or enough insulin, or does not use insulin well. Diabetes can arise in individuals at any age. Diabetics require a more specific oral care plan than those without it as blood sugar issues and gingivitis are linked. As part of overall health, it’s even more important for people with diabetes to include a dentist as part of their care team.
Dental Myth 5: If Your Teeth Feel Fine, You Don’t Need to go to the Dentist
Whether you are 80 or 8, your oral health is important. Dental care is designed to be primarily preventative care. Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable. They also help prevent many problems from developing in the first place. Visiting your dentist regularly is also important because some diseases or medical conditions have symptoms that can appear in the mouth.
Dental Myth 6: Chewing Gum is as Effective as Brushing
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel. While chewing gum does support dental health, it is only one part of the big picture. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice daily, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash daily, and chewing sugar-free gum after meals. However, chewing gum is not a replacement for, nor is it as effective as brushing.
Dental Myth 7: Cavities in Baby Teeth Don’t Matter
Many people think baby teeth don’t matter since they are eventually replaced by adult teeth. But children’s first teeth, or baby teeth, are important. Baby teeth hold space for adult teeth. Tooth decay can begin as soon as those teeth erupt, and decay can not only cause cavities, but pain which can lead to trouble eating, and in some cases undernourishment. Tooth decay in baby teeth can also affect adult teeth. Developing adult or permanent teeth grow directly under baby teeth. If the decay is extensive, the bacteria in the cavity can cause a dental abscess which can spread down to affect the developing adult tooth under it.
Dental Myth 8: Teeth Whitening Damages Tooth Enamel
Generally, tooth whitening is successful in at least 90% of patients. As a rule of thumb, yellow-colored teeth respond well to whitening, while brownish-colored teeth don’t respond as well. In order to achieve successful whitening, The whitening agent penetrates the enamel to reach the discolored molecules inside your tooth. Professional teeth whitening or bleaching doesn’t hurt enamel, however it can cause temporary tooth sensitivity and tenderness. Want to learn more? Check out the American Dental Association’s Statement on Safety and Effectiveness of Tooth Whitening Products.
Whether you are a skeptic or a believer, your dentist can help you answer any questions you have and give you the facts you need for optimal dental health.