Becky Larson, RDH
Dental “Myth Busters”
There are a lot of dental myths out there that are sometimes mistaken for dental truths. Here are a few facts to help clear up some of the confusion.
Myth #1: You don’t need to brush baby teeth because they will fall out eventually anyway.
Absolutely not! Baby teeth can still get cavities, which can spread to other teeth and cause pain. Some baby teeth may even fall out too soon and cause problems with bite or improper development of a child’s permanent teeth. It’s also important to establish good oral hygiene habits early on. Children’s teeth should be brushed twice daily (just like adult teeth).
Myth #2: Fluoride is poisonous and should be avoided.
Wrong! Each day the enamel layers of our teeth lose minerals (demineralization) due to the acidity of plaque and sugars in the mouth. The enamel is remineralized from food and water consumption. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization leads to tooth decay. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel, thus making it more resistant to acidic demineralization. Fluoride can sometimes reverse early tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association, community water fluoridation is the single more effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. Many dental offices also offer in office fluoride treatments that can help both children and adults.
Myth #3: You lose one tooth each time you have a child.
Now that’s just silly. Some women think that when they are pregnant the baby leeches a lot of their calcium supply. That may be, but it doesn’t mean she will lose any teeth. However, pregnant women are prone to cavities or having other dental problems. This is due to morning sickness and vomiting, dry mouth, and a desire/craving for more sugary or starchy foods. Pregnant women in these circumstances should be sure to continue their regular dental check-ups and try to maintain pristine oral home care.
Myth #4: If your gums are bleeding you should avoid brushing your teeth and flossing.
I can’t even begin to stress how wrong this one is! If your gums are bleeding it means there is active inflammation and infection present. That means you need to improve on oral hygiene by brushing more frequently or more effectively. Bleeding gums is a sign of periodontal disease. If caught early (in the gingivitis stage) it can be reversed. Brushing should be done twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Flossing should be done at least once daily.
Myth #5: Placing a tablet of aspirin beside an aching tooth can ease the pain.
Wrong again. In order to ease the pain caused by a toothache, aspirin must be fully swallowed. Placing aspirin on gum tissue for long periods of time can actually damage the tissue and possibly cause an abscess.
Myth #6: You don’t need to see the dentist if there is no visible problem with your teeth.
Unfortunately not all dental problems will be visible or obvious. You should continue to visit the dentist for regular check-ups at least twice per year, in conjunction with your cleanings. Dental radiographs or other instruments can detect cavities or other problems that might not be causing any symptoms yet. It’s best to catch things early to minimize the treatment needed.
Myth #7: After a tooth has been treated for decay it will not decay again.
There are no guarantees in dentistry! While the dentist will do their best to restore teeth to last for as long as possible, there is no way of knowing when or if a tooth will get recurrent decay. Proper oral home care can prolong the life of dental restorations.
Don’t always believe what you hear! If you have questions or concerns about your dental health be sure to ask your dentist, hygienist, or other dental professional.
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Becky, thanks for “busting these myths.” I find it hard to believe that people actually think that you “should” lose a tooth with each child. It sounds like trying extra-hard to maintain dental health during pregnancy is a must. I will be sure to let my pregnant friends in on the myth.