Why are people so terrified of dentists? It’s probably because they’ve heard a lot of troubling stories about what happens in a dentist’s chair. Or maybe it’s because that other chair, the electric one, was allegedly invented by a dentist. While that part is true, a lot of your dental knowledge probably isn’t, so let’s take a quick look.
8 Dental Myths
Sugar Will Spoil Your Teeth
Refined sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and it’s not just found in cake and candy. Other foods have carbs too, even healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. When these carbohydrates are digested in the mouth, acid results as a by-product. The acid mingles with saliva to create plaque, and excess plaque rots your teeth. So it’s not the sugar that’s the problem. It’s any excess of simple carbs. Complex carbs are better for your teeth because they take longer to digest, so the acids take longer to accumulate and cause plaque. Complex sugars are found in brown rice, oatmeal, legumes, and potatoes.
Tooth Whiteners Are Bad for You
Everybody wants a brighter smile, but we’re often told whitening our teeth will do untold harm to our enamels. Is this true? Well, yes and no. As a general rule, self-administered whiteners are less potent than clinic whiteners. Manufacturers do this deliberately to reduce the chances of you hurting your teeth. If you’d like to whiten your teeth in a safe, healthy way, talk to a dentist. If you must treat your enamel at home, check the product label. If it has more than 10% whitening agent, throw it away. It will do more harm than good.
Silver Fillings Are Forever
Patients are often advised that silver fillings are the best option. They are cheaper than other fillings, they don’t stain, and they last up to twenty years. What they’re not told is that silver fillings aren’t just silver. They’re an alloy of zinc, mercury, and very little silver. Dentists actually refer to them as amalgam rather than silver. Silver is just the layman’s term. And even though they’re quite long-lasting, the mercury in them leeches over time, weakening the filling. So if you do have fillings, even if you’re not worried about the mercury content, have the dentist check them to see if they’re intact.
Alcoholic Mouthwash is A Good Thing
In the olden days of medicine, before the science and art of treatment was fully figured out, raw alcohol was used as unregulated anaesthesia and disinfectant. After all, it dulled the senses, minimised pain, and killed germs. So it’s logical that we would think using alcohol in mouthwash is helpful since it kills bacteria. Unfortunately, alcohol is also a diuretic that dries out the teeth and makes the mouth feel cottony. Some studies also link alcohol-based mouthwash with cancer, though subjects are often smokers and drinkers, so the correlation is not necessarily causation.
Nobody Needs Their Wisdom Teeth
In school, we learn that adults have 32 teeth. In reality, most people’s mouths can only accommodate 28, because our jaws are so small. For this reason, many dentists rush to remove wisdom teeth. After all, they’re painful, uncomfortable, and don’t seem to serve a purpose. The thing is many parts of our bodies seem unnecessary, but they didn’t get there by accident. These include our tonsils and appendix. Plus, modern dentistry has far more options for handling wisdom teeth, so don’t be so quick to have them taken out.
No Dental Checks for Babies …
A lot of people don’t bother brushing their children’s teeth. It’s tiresome and challenging since toddlers can be alarmingly willful. After struggling for hours on a two-year-old’s dental hygiene, parents will often console themselves. “They’re just milk teeth; they’ll fall off. There’s no harm if they rot. They’ll come out on their own by age six.” Unfortunately, there’s a real risk that damage on baby teeth can seep into the gums and affect permanent teeth that haven’t erupted yet. So make sure your littles ones brush twice a day, floss, and see the dentist every few months.
And None for Pregnant Mommies …
Expectant mothers are often advised to avoid the dentist. X-rays can harm the unborn child. So can antibiotics. And possibly laughing gas. At the same time, if a mom-to-be has unhealthy teeth, it could affect her unborn baby even more. She needs lots of calcium to ensure her baby has strong bones, so regular dental check-ups are crucial. Plus, if she has gingivitis, she could lose the baby altogether. She needs to let her dentist know she’s expecting so that he or she can select baby-safe treatment options. But a routine oral health check or thorough dental cleaning will benefit both her and her baby.
Just Brush Your Teeth More Often
Most of us are programmed to think we can solve all our tooth problems by simply brushing more often. The ideal schedule for brushing teeth is just twice a day. Any more than that and your risk eroding your enamel, harming your gums, and drying out your mouth. Twice is enough. More is overkill and can end up being bad for your oral health. It’s okay to just rinse your mouth with water after lunch, and chew some minty gum for your breath.
As you can see, most of what you thought you knew about dental health were highly inaccurate. Are there any other dental ‘facts’ you’d like to confirm or disprove? Have a chat with your friendly neighbourhood dentist. You’ll find they’re not as scary as you imagined.