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Myth or Fact: Common Dental Misconceptions

When it comes to taking care of your smile, there are plenty of misconceptions out there. While good oral health can be reached in just minutes a day, the wrong practices can cause irreversible damage. Here’s what you need to know.

Myth #1: Pregnant and Nursing mothers should avoid seeing the dentist

In reality, this could not be further from the truth. It is recommended all women who are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or recently pregnant and nursing to visit their dentist at their regular 6 month intervals. In some cases, the dentist might want to see them every three months!

Many changes occur during pregnancy and many of them can manifest in the mouth. Seeing your dentist during this time will help keep you informed about your health and reduce the need for emergency dental work through proper maintenance.

Myth #2: “No need for my child to see the dentist…it’s only a baby tooth”

Baby teeth are actually just as important as permanent teeth. A lot of parents are misinformed about this, however children need their teeth for the same reasons as adults, for proper chewing, for proper speech etc. Cavities on baby teeth should be filled and restored before they lead to toothache or infection. Baby teeth also play a big role in guiding the erupting permanent teeth to the right position. When a baby tooth is removed too early (which usually results due to severe decay), the space for the erupting permanent tooth is usually lost resulting in misalignment. If a child isn’t having their teeth brushed and flossed, odds are they won’t develop proper habits to brush and floss their permanent teeth either, which leads to severe and expensive dental issues as they get older.

Myth #3: You only need to see the dentist if your teeth hurt

“Prevention is better than the cure,” you may have heard this saying, what is relatively less heard of is that diagnosing and curing a tooth problem at an earlier stage is much easier and cost-effective than if it was to be addressed later.

Even if you are not experiencing dental pain, it is recommended to see your dentist at least twice a year for regular cleanings and exams. Some dental issues are asymptomatic but can still cause infection and need treatment. Altogether, prevention saves you both time and money in the long-run. If you were to wait too long, you risk a chance of the tooth not being able to be saved and it may be more expensive than if it was treated before it worsened.

Myth #4: My tooth was hurting a lot, but the pain has gone away. I don’t need to see the dentist anymore.

Following up with myth #3, ignoring any tooth pain or trying to “push through” the pain can lead to serious health consequences. Many times the severe pain of a tooth is caused by a dental caries (or a cavity) that has reached the nerve inside the tooth. As the nerve gets infected, it begins to die which you feel as pain. The infection, however, will remain and if left untreated can lead to an abscess, or it may result in the infection spreading to other areas of your body such as sinus, throat, and even heart.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Myth #5: The harder you brush, the cleaner you’ll get your teeth

Actually, brushing too hard or with too abrasive of a toothbrush (medium or firm) can actually harm your teeth by eroding some of the hard enamel that protect the inside of the tooth from cavities and decay. Dentist always recommend a soft or even extra soft, bristled brush.

Myth #6: Oral health is not connected to the rest of my body

There are many correlations between your mouth and body, your oral health is connected to your systemic (overall) health. A mouth with severe tooth decay and periodontal disease is more likely to cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and result in other health issues. More and more studies are finding links between periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Your mouth is part of your body, some patients still fail to make that connections and their overall health suffers needlessly for years at a time.

Myth #7: I brush properly, I don’t need to floss

Brushing only cleans 65% of your teeth, so… what about the other 35%? The surfaces between your teeth which the toothbrush cannot reach (even if you use ultra-thin bristles). Only dental floss can remove food debris stuck in those areas. Neglecting to floss may lead to cavities you won’t even notice because they are formed right in between your teeth and can be detected only by dental x-rays. Flossing is actually a patient’s best defense against Periodontal Disease, which is #1 cause of tooth loss in adult patients.

Myth #8: Sugar is the main culprit to cavities

When you think of cavities you may think of candy and sweet treats but crackers and chips may sometimes be even worse for your teeth. It has to do with the starchiness and carbohydrates in general- they have sugars that break down your teeth but also really stick to your teeth.

Myth #9: Root canals are painful

Root canals or more accurately, Root Canal Therapy, is the process where a dentist removes the diseased nerve and bacteria from within the tooth while disinfecting and finally sealing the space so that no future infection can occur. During the procedure the area is fully anesthetized so you should not feel anything while the procedure is in progress. The dentist will remove the source of infection and pain, you should feel immediate relief after the procedure is complete. Typically only a slight soreness is present for the following hours up to about a day. In contrast, leaving a tooth untreated will lead to more pain in the future and may also lead to a larger infection that can affect your overall health as well as losing a tooth. Don’t put off root canals for fear of pain!

Myth #10: You’ve been slacking on brushing and flossing and have a dental appointment coming up. As long as you brush and floss well before going in, no one will know, right?

Sorry to break it to you, but you’re not getting away with anything. The dentist and hygienist can tell without regular brushing and flossing, hard tartar (calculus) forms around your teeth and at a certain point you can’t get it off with just brushing alone. Plus, you cannot undo the inflammation in your gums that occurs when plaque and tartar have accumulated over 6 months with just a few days of flossing. However, your dental re-call appointment is a great time to get back to your good habits of daily oral healthcare!

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