We like to consider ourselves savvy and sophisticated, but sometimes we accept common misconceptions as fact – especially when it comes to dental health! In this case, of course, ignorance is far from bliss, and can lead to serious issues. Because our team at NK Family Dental is dedicated to keeping your smile healthy for a lifetime, we’re taking this opportunity to bust the most widespread and persistent dental health myths.
Eating Sugar Causes Cavities
Sugar itself does not promote cavities. However, as Dr. Reena Kaloti writes for West 85 Dental, “Ingesting a lot of sugar does not technically cause tooth decay, how long the sugar remains in your mouth is the real cause. Sugars introduced into our mouth causes bacteria to produce acids that slowly eat away at your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities.”
While limiting your intake of candy, snacks and other foods with a high sugar content is beneficial for your general health, keep in mind that sugar isn’t the only culprit in creating an oral environment conducive to tooth decay. Citrus fruit, alcohol and starchy foods can also damage teeth – as can sugar-free carbonated soft drinks (more about that in the next myth).
Follow the advice of your dentist and your mom – brush (and floss) after every meal to prevent sugar from lingering long enough to start the process that leads to cavities.
Sugar-free Sodas Don’t Cause Cavities
Absolutely wrong! The absence of sugar doesn’t mean that sugar-free carbonated sodas won’t harm your teeth. Tooth enamel can still be damaged by the high acidity of soda. To illustrate, the average pH level of water is 7 – which is neutral on the scale of acids and bases. Diet sodas have a typical level of 2 or 3, which is extremely acid. How bad is that? Battery acid has a pH level of 1!
Here’s more food for thought from Dr. Pamela Sehra of Dental Associates:
“The acid in diet soda eats away at enamel (the outer protective layer of our tooth surface) causing tooth sensitivity. Some people tend to slowly sip their sodas throughout the day, which is actually more hazardous. Every time you take a sip, the bacteria in your mouth begins to work with the acid and attack your enamel. It takes about 20 minutes for your mouth to neutralize that acid again and each time you sip that 20-minute attack starts over.”
In addition to your dental health, there are numerous reasons to forego soft drinks of every type. Diet soft drinks have been implicated as a cause/contributing factor of headaches, type 2 diabetes and – ironically enough – weight gain. Drinking water may not be exciting, but it gives your body the hydration it needs to function at peak capacity while providing a healthy environment for your mouth!
If a Toothache Goes Away, You Don’t Need to See a Dentist
While some parts of the human body may be able to heal on their own, teeth and gums aren’t among them. A toothache usually indicates a cavity. An untreated cavity can reach the tooth’s nerve, which causes pain. If the pain subsides, the cavity has killed the nerve – which means that a root canal is necessary to save the tooth. However, not all root canals are successful. In short, if the toothache goes away, the tooth itself is close to doing likewise!
Oral Health Doesn’t Affect Your Overall Health
You see a physician for your general health and a dentist for your oral health. But this doesn’t mean that the latter has no effect on the former. In fact, there are many correlations between mouth and body. As Dr. Sehra points out, “A mouth with severe tooth decay and periodontal disease is more likely to cause bacteria to enter into the bloodstream and result in other health issues. Studies have found a link between periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.”
White Teeth are Healthy Teeth
Actually, tooth color is no indication of healthy or bad teeth. “Dingy” teeth can be strong and sturdy. The only exception is for people who were given the antibiotic tetracycline as children, which discolored developing permanent teeth from within and weakened enamel. Commonly prescribed throughout the mid-1950s through 1980s, tetracycline is now only prescribed for ages eight and over.
Otherwise, tooth color varies among people, and changes as we age – although staining can be caused by smoking, or habitually drinking coffee or tea. Fortunately, whitening treatments administered or supervised by a dentist can give you the bright, attractive smile you want! For those dealing with the permanent effects of tetracycline, composite bonding, veneers or crowns can provide a smile you can be proud of while helping to protect your teeth.
Bleaching is Bad for Your Teeth
Today’s tooth-whitening technologies are safe and non-acidic when administered by a dentist. However, DIY methods – such as whitening strips and gel trays – can harm enamel, especially when used for longer than the recommended time. Our blog post – “Teeth Whitening: Is it Safe to DIY?” – covers the risks of such methods.
NK Family Dental is proud to offer Zoom and Opalescence teeth whitening treatments. Each of these excellent, proven treatments is administered by different means. We will recommend the treatment best suited to your situation and aesthetic goals based upon your consultation.
You’ll Clean Your Teeth Better if You Brush Harder
Not true! In fact, a toothbrush that’s too abrasive or brushing your teeth too vigorously can erode some amount of protective enamel, as well as irritate gums. Dentists recommend a soft-bristled toothbrush, and flossing to thoroughly remove food from between teeth. Buy a new one every three to four months under normal circumstances, and replace sooner if you’ve been sick – especially if your toothbrush is stored closely to other toothbrushes.
Adults are Too Old for Braces
If you didn’t get braces as a child or teenager, it isn’t too late to correct your bite! Healthy teeth can be realigned at any age. One major reservation adults may have about braces is the unsightly hardware involved with traditional metal braces. However, “invisible” braces – such as Invisalign aligners – provide remarkable performance in correcting certain dental problems such as crooked teeth, spacing issues, overbites, underbites and crossbites.
NK Family Dental proudly offers Invisalign to our patients, as well as metal braces. Our blog post – “Invisalign or Braces: Which Should You Choose?” covers both types in greater detail.
“Baby Teeth” Aren’t Important
If you are a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that we can’t emphasize the importance of primary – or “baby” – teeth enough! They are instrumental in establishing favorable conditions for the permanent teeth to emerge and position themselves correctly — which is why we recommend that children receive their first dental visit shortly after their initial teeth begin emerging.
In addition, primary teeth allow your child to chew and speak at an early age – thereby being essential to healthy development. Removing a primary tooth prematurely because of decay or other circumstance will leave a space open for other teeth to shift around, which can cause overlapping and crookedness.
You’ll Lose Your Teeth as You Age
Not so long ago, it was assumed that losing your teeth was a natural part of aging. People resigned themselves to a future of dentures in their golden years. Fortunately, with advances in dental technologies and improved knowledge about oral health, it is possible to keep your teeth – or most of them – for a lifetime!
Just as with your overall health, the sooner you commit to incorporating best oral care practices into your daily life, the more likely you are to enjoy healthy teeth and gums as you age. Scheduling regular dental examinations and cleanings will greatly contribute to your success in this worthwhile goal.
We understand that the main concern you may have is cost, which is why we accept all major PPO plans for dental insurance and also offer our in-house dental plan. Please see our financing page for more information.
At NK Family Dental, it is our mission to provide the highest quality and most compassionate oral care to our Chicago patients, including both dental and periodontal services. Our dental specialists include our general dentist, Dr. Nilofer Khan, our endodontist, Dr. Sabek, and our periodontist, Dr. Amir Danesh. Dr. Danesh is a board-certified periodontist and Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. He has contributed to the publication of two books, as well as published over 20 papers in prestigious dental research journals.
We serve the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, and Wicker Park with the dedication that’s earned us the reputation as the Best Dentist in Chicago!
Schedule your visit through ZocDoc, or contact us directly. We look forward to treating you soon!