Busted! Dental Myths Exposed

There are many dental myths floating around the internet that have little to no basis in truth.

MYTH: I should not brush my teeth when my gums bleed.

TRUTH: Normally, when the body has a wound we need to give it time to heal. Usually that means placing a band aid over it so we do not disturb the healing process. The opposite is true of bleeding gums.  Bleeding gums could be a sign of more than just periodontal disease and should be examined by a dentist. Gingival tissue bleeds because of a buildup of plaque and bacteria. The plaque, food particles and bacteria are producing toxins that will eventually destroy the supporting tissues surrounding your teeth. The earliest form of this is called gingivitis and it is reversible. But periodontal disease is a progressive one and it will get worse without proper care. Seeing your dentist regularly will allow you to manage and stop this disease before it can progress further.

MYTH: Placing an aspirin in my mouth next to a toothache can relieve pain.

TRUTH: This is an old at home remedy that has somehow continued to linger. Even ingested orally aspirin will do little for a toothache. It is not powerful enough of an analgesic. But placing it in the mouth against the oral tissues is a recipe for disaster. The only safe and effective way to take an aspirin tabs to swallow it. The aspirin then gets absorbed into your body through your digestion. It then enters your bloodstream and travels throughout your body. Aspirin works by stopping the production of prostaglandins.Prostaglandins transmit pain messages from the injured part of your body to your brain. This reduces pain felt in the body. Also placing the aspirin directly on the gums or lips can cause an acidic burn to the oral tissues.

MYTH: By eating more sugar, you will get more cavities.

TRUTH: Many of us can remember our parents or grandparents telling us not to eat too much sugar or our teeth will fall out. But truth be told, the amount of sugar is not the deciding factor whether or not you end up with tooth decay. How tooth decay process works is the bacteria that are naturally in your mouth are able to feed on sugars (and carbohydrates in general). In turn these bacteria produce acids that erode our teeth. The longer the sugar is able to stay in your mouth, the longer these bacteria are producing acid which will eventually erode the tooth and cause a cavity. So, this means eating two candy bars, then immediately brushing and rinsing your teeth is less harmful than eating one candy bar and not brushing afterwards. This is why sugary soft drinks are bad for our teeth. Every sip we are reintroducing sugar into the mouth for the bacteria to feed on.

MYTH: Using tooth picks will widen the gaps between your teeth.

TRUTH: Most commercially available tooth picks are quite harmless and when used properly are a good cleansing tool for the plaque and food build up between teeth. However, it should not replace flossing and brushing as the staple to your oral hygiene program. One word of warning regarding tooth picks…..be careful not to injure your gums.

MYTH: Osteoporosis does not affect teeth and only affects major bones like the spine and hips.

TRUTH: Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones. It is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Osteoporosis can also affect the bones of the jaws so tooth loss is possible. Diet become doubly important in osteoporosis patients to maintain the nutrients needed for proper bone support.

MYTH: Bad Breath means you are not brushing properly.

TRUTH: A person’s bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene but it can also be a sign of a systemic disease. The foods we eat like garlic or onions will also change our breath smell but only for a short time. A well known systemic disease that gives a tell tale bad breath sign is diabetes. In diabetics this is called diabetic ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is usually seen in type 1 diabetics. This complication occurs when the body is unable to use sugar (glucose) as a fuel source because the patients do not produce enough insulin, and because of that the fat is used instead. Ketones build up in the body and this is the byproducts of fat breakdown. The bad breath smell is from the ketones. The body has only two ways of removing these ketones, thru our urine and thru our breath.

MYTH: Losing baby teeth from tooth decay is not a big deal.

TRUTH: This is a very common myth. Most people believe well the primary teeth are going to fall out anyway so no big deal. The tooth decay in the primary teeth can affect the erupting teeth. If the primary teeth are lost prematurely the permanent teeth may erupt misaligned. The other purpose of primary teeth is to hold “space” for the permanent teeth. if those space holders are gone prematurely then there will be less room for the adult teeth to erupt. This will cause overcrowding. and require orthodontics later on.

MYTH: Poor oral health only affects the teeth and gums.

TRUTH: This has been a big misconception for years but the media has done a good job of late bringing this to the general public’s attention. Periodontal disease has shown strong links to diabetes and heart disease. Untreated periodontal disease will affect your body as a whole. Research has proven this.

MYTH: Teeth whitening is bad for your teeth. Teeth whitening when done properly is completely safe and harmless to the teeth and gums. Teeth whitening products only affect color of teeth not their strength or health. There are some possible side effects to teeth whitening that are generally very temporary. These include teeth sensitivity or possibly gum irritation if not applied properly.

MYTH: Avoid the dentist when pregnant. When a woman is even thinking about becoming pregnant she should schedule a dentist appointment to ensure her teeth and gums are healthy for the possible baby on the way. Necessary dental treatment is safe and effective for most pregnant women throughout their pregnancy. Obviously you prefer to not have treatment in the third trimester when sitting in a dental chair may be uncomfortable for the mother.  

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