When it comes to dentistry and keeping your teeth healthy, there’s often a lot of misinformation floating around. Let’s debunk those dental myths today because teeth and gums can decline quickly when we stop taking care of them or pick up bad habits.
“Tooth decay and cavities happen mostly because of sugar.”
Sugar certainly can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Believe it or not, there’s something even more damaging to dental health. Starchy carbohydrates (like chips and crackers) can do even more harm to teeth than sugar. They have the tendency to stick to enamel, causing plaque buildup. They then create sugars upon which bacteria feed. In addition, eating carbs leads the acids in your mouth to combine with saliva. This results in more plaque developing on (and between) teeth.
“If your teeth are really white, they’re healthy.”
People have white teeth for a number of reasons, including the use of bleaching treatments, toothpaste with whitening formula, and the fact that some people’s teeth are naturally white. It has no bearing on the condition of teeth and gums, or the amount of tooth decay that’s in a person’s mouth. People with yellow or stained teeth may have strong dental hygiene habits. Teeth can get stained by use of some medications, consuming certain food or beverages, smoking, or aging.
“There’s no need to brush if you chew sugar-free gum.”
The truth is chewing sugar-free gum can be good for teeth, which is how this false rumour got started. This type of gum contains a substance called Xylitol which loosens and washes away particular causes of erosion or decay. The act of chewing gum also creates more saliva, fulfilling the same function as Xylitol (but to a lesser extent). It rinses substances that can cause harm.
Is chewing sugar-free gum enough to fully clean teeth? It isn’t. As good a job as Xylitol may do, it cannot remove all of the plaque in every part of the mouth. If you want to thoroughly clean and freshen your teeth and gums, regular brushing and flossing is essential.
“Only go to the dentist if you have major pain”
This idea is an unwise one. It’s important to visit the dentist and the hygienist every six months, and immediately when you feel pain or spot an abnormality. Not every dental issue is evident right away, so regular checkups can help you avoid the worsening of a problem. Pain or discomfort do not always present themselves as immediate symptoms. A small cavity today could become a root canal tomorrow when dental care is ignored.
During your dental checkup, the hygienist will clean your teeth and remove plaque and tartar that have built up. This prevents it from hardening and leading to gum disease or other related problems.
“Everyone with diabetes gets gum disease.”
Diabetes does impact blood sugar, which makes it important to regulate its levels. High blood pressure potentially opens up the risk of damage to the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and the gums. By no means does this condition guarantee that a person will develop gum issues. Gum health relies on both dental care and overall health. Attention to oral hygiene helps us avoid disease and health complications.
“Bad breath indicates gum disease.”
There can be several possible causes for bad breath, including acid reflux or a digestive problem. Gum disease can cause bad breath problem, but it’s not the only possible reason. Make an appointment with your dentist to discover the potential reasons for halitosis.
“Silver fillings have no health risks.”
48% of silver fillings are perfectly fine and present no health risks. But 52% of older fillings are made of mercury. This substance can cause serious health problems (like an autoimmune disease). The mercury from a filling may leak into the mouth. This situation may be worsened by frequently drinking hot fluids or carbonated beverages, tooth grinding, or regular gum chewing. If you do have mercury fillings, consider having them replaced with “white fillings.”
“Gum disease only harms the inside of the mouth.”
We may tend to think of the teeth and gums as separate from the rest of the body and organs. However, there is a strong connection between oral health and overall health. Gum disease impacts the rest of the body and increases the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, and inflammation. Research indicates a strong correlation between gum disease and heart disease.
The inflammation in the mouth that leads to gum disease is linked to the inflammation that hardens the arteries. This happens because the bacteria on the gums is transported to the heart area through the mouth’s vascular pathways. The link between diabetes and gum disease has been well-established. People with a diagnosis of diabetes are more likely to also be diagnosed with gum disease. The same connection is true with obesity.
“It’s normal for gums to bleed when you floss them.”
Bleeding gums are an indication they may be inflamed. This usually happens when plaque builds up between the teeth, generally because of inadequate brushing and flossing. It’s important to floss every day. People who rarely floss often experience bleeding gums. Those who do it more regularly rarely do.
“Flossing really isn’t necessary.”
There’s a myth gaining popularity that flossing isn’t as effective as once thought. The majority of dentists disagree: Flossing is essential. Some plaque and bacteria buildup simply can’t be regularly removed any other way. A toothbrush doesn’t adequately clean between teeth. Flossing is key to preventing gum disease.
If you realize you’ve been engaging in unwise dental practices, find a caring dentist in your area and make an appointment for cleaning and an exam today.
We hope none of our patients embrace any of these misconceptions about dental health. If you did, it’s our hope you got some insight into poor dental practices and are encouraged to take on some new healthy habits. Call Lambton Family Dental (519) 344-5747 to see a dentist in Sarnia today. Happy holidays from our team!