Dental Myths and Old Wives’ Tales
There are several myths and old wives’ tales about dentistry that are accepted by the public as being factual and accurate. Here is the truth about some of the common myths you may have heard before.
When I was pregnant my baby took the calcium out of my teeth. That’s why I have decay.
Although many would agree that pregnancy can be draining, unborn babies do not leach minerals out of the mother’s teeth. Often, pregnant ladies find that the only foods that they can keep down are very starchy foods like crackers and toast. These are easily digestible by plaque and are the ideal ingredient to create dental decay. It is common for ladies to experience reflux and vomiting during their pregnancies. This creates an acidic pH in the mouth which is the ideal environment for aggressive decay.If an expectant mother has a low intake of calcium, she will lose calcium from her bones, not her teeth.
It’s just a baby tooth so it’s not important. Just take it out.
This is mostly untrue. Depending on the circumstances, we like to try to keep baby teeth for as long as possible in order to maintain space for the permanent teeth to come through into. If a baby tooth is decayed, we will attempt to repair the tooth so that it stays in the mouth holding the space ready for the permanent tooth to erupt into.
Of course, if a baby tooth is completely knocked out or so badly decayed it cannot be fixed then this is a completely different scenario. In this case we discuss that in the future there is a good chance of needing orthodontic intervention, and in some cases, we refer to an orthodontist as soon as the tooth is lost so that they can place a space maintainer to hold the gap open for the permanent tooth in the future.
Decay/gum disease runs in my family. That’s why I always have decay when I go to the dentist and my gums bleed when I brush and floss.
It’s true that some families share a genetic sensitivity for many different conditions, and this is called a “genetic or familial predisposition”.
We have a simple way to understand the way a genetic or familial predisposition works towards dental disease. Think about how different skin colours come from different genes that run in families. Because of these genes, people will experience different degrees of sunburn when exposed to the sun. When the skin isn’t exposed to the sun, there is no sunburn.
Dental disease works much the same way. If the teeth and gums are kept free of plaque, there is no way for decay or gum disease to start.
Some people have a very exaggerated host response to plaque which results in gums bleeding or decays. The truth is, if there is no plaque, there is nothing for the body to have an exaggerated host response to, i.e., there won’t be decay or gum bleeding. Excellent home care is the trick to prevent plaque sitting on the teeth, creating dental disease. We advise to brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush or an electric toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste and to floss once a day between all of your teeth.
My tooth has a crown on it so it can’t get decay now. Once my veneers are done, I can forget about them forever.
This is untrue! The porcelain portion of the tooth is fairly robust, however the junction of where the tooth and the crown/veneer is a high risk zone for decay if there is plaque present.This is why it is important to keep up daily brushing and flossing around crowns, veneers and bridges to prevent decay.
My baby got their baby teeth too early/too late so that means their permanent teeth will be strong/weak.
The timing of baby teeth erupting has no relation to the amount of decay the child has in the future.
Oil pulling will get rid of the toxins in my body including dental decay and gum problems.
It does not replace brushing and cleaning between teeth and takes a lot of time. Although oil pulling is unlikely to harmful, it’s doubtful that it is beneficial to your health. It might be better to consider other healthy things to do with 20 minutes twice a day!
My teeth are a disaster- just pull them all out and give me dentures. That will be cheaper, and they will look and function the same as my natural teeth.
This is a false economy! Your teeth probably aren’t as bad as you think they are. The cost of having teeth restored to their normal look and function is often a lot less than having a full mouth of extractions and upper and lower dentures made.
It is true that dentures can be made to have lovely white straight teeth, which is fantastic if your teeth are badly
Putting an aspirin next to my tooth will get rid of my toothache quicker than if I take the aspirin orally.
False! Aspirin tablets applied directly to the gum result in a nasty burn. These are painful and take a while to heal, and the aspirin isn’t absorbed efficiently by the gum. Painkillers should always be taken as directed.
After brushing I need to rinse out my toothpaste thoroughly.
False! There is no reason to rinse out with water after brushing your teeth. In fact, research indicates that we should all be adapting to the “Spit Don’t Rinse” method. That is, after brushing your teeth, you should spit out the excess toothpaste but not rinse out with water. This allows the fluoride in your toothpaste to reduce the risk of decay by strengthening the teeth and by reducing bacteria.
Organic charcoal toothpaste is better for me and will whiten my teeth.
Charcoal is fantastic for neutralising and absorbing toxins in the gastrointestinal tract.There is a myth that charcoal can absorb stains from teeth but unfortunately this is not true. Like many whitening products, they can be abrasive and should be avoided. The charcoal particles in the toothpaste can get lodged at the edges of fillings or in cracks in the teeth, leaving a noticeable stain. Charcoal toothpastes are often marketed under the guise of a “natural” or “chemical free” product, and many don’t contain fluoride which prevents cavities. Commercial toothpastes contain surfactants which make the paste foam when you brush, which remove plaque and food particles easily and leave the mouth feeling fresh.
Whitening toothpastes work.
Unfortunately,whitening toothpastes are ineffective at changing the colour of teeth. They contain lots of abrasive agents that don’t whiten enamel and make teeth sensitive, and they don’t contain enough bleaching agent to chemically change the colour. A dental office is the only place in Australia that can provide a strong enough whitening product that will give a good result.
I don’t need to go to the dentist if I can’t feel any problems in my mouth.
Many dental diseases are undetectable by the patient until they are severe. Finding gum problems and tooth decay at the early stage means less time in the dental chair in the long term, and less of a monetary outlay to repair. We like to make the comparison of dental disease is similar to having high cholesterol. By the time you can tell that things aren’t “quite right” then the outcome is likely to be catastrophic. Early intervention and treatment are less stressful and easier to manage.
We can detect and repair early enamel weaknesses to prevent these areas needing fillings.
With regular hygiene recalls and good home care we can reverse gingivitis and prevent it from progressing into periodontitis or “gum disease”.
It’s expensive to have your teeth fixed.
This can be true. If regular 6-monthly examinations and cleans are not kept up, the result after many years can cost a lot to repair. Preventive visits to the dentist and hygienist every 6 months are an economical option for your mouth and your wallet.
During the preventive visits we are able smooth over older fillings or restorations to remove plaque traps and to try to extend the lifespan of older restorations by a few months or years. We know that older restorations will eventually need replacement, but we can often make restorations last a little longer with some simple maintenance carried out during a hygiene session.
Hygienists are often the first clinicians to find cracks and decay that are hidden under deposits of plaque and tartar. Early detection of cracks and decay often means shorter and cheaper restorative appointments with our dentists.
Root Canal Treatment causes other illnesses.
The myth that root canal treatment can cause other health issues has been around for a while and is based on a disproven theory from the early 1900s. There is no sound evidence linking this treatment with the development of diseases elsewhere in the body.