THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

when acid-producing bacteria are allowed to linger in your mouth.


Myth: Baby teeth aren’t really important.

Even though baby or primary teeth are only temporary, they serve a very important function. Children need their primary teeth to eat and speak. Additionally, baby teeth aid in guiding in a child’s permanent teeth and help support a child’s confidence and self-esteem. Be sure to schedule regular dental appointments for your child, with the initial appointment scheduled at least by her or his first birthday, to help manage the condition of the child’s teeth and get him or her accustomed to seeing the dentist.


Myth: Brushing more than once a day can harm the enamel on my teeth.

Brushing the recommended twice a day will not damage the enamel on teeth on its own. Using something other than a soft toothbrush or an ultra-soft brush if recommended by your dentist can result in damage. The same is true if you are brushing too hard. Also, talk to your dentist about the type of toothpaste you use regularly, as some products are more abrasive than others.  

Myth: My gums are bleeding so it’s best to give them a break from brushing/flossing.

Gums will generally bleed when they become inflamed due to food debris or dental plaque becoming stuck in between teeth. Giving them a break will not help get anything unstuck. Keep brushing and flossing gently. Check with your dentist if the bleeding persists.


Myth: I can just chew gum to clean my teeth.

It’s true sugar-free gum can help protect and clean your teeth if you chew some following a meal. The chewing action helps produce saliva to neutralize and rinse away acids produced by food, aiding in avoiding tooth decay. However, chewing gum is not an effective replacement for brushing and flossing. It’s only a useful extra step.


Myth: The whiter my teeth, the healthier my teeth.

That’s not quite how it works. Many people may find their teeth become stained from various foods and drinks or certain medication they take at some point in their life. Teeth become less white as people age. This does not mean their teeth are not healthy.


Myth: Women can skip seeing the dentist while they are pregnant.

Pregnant women need to continue to see their dentist as usual and may actually need to see him or her more frequently, as some women may experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Studies have shown women experiencing oral infections, such as periodontal disease, are at risk of delivering a premature, low-birth-weight baby.


Myth: Dental problems are only just dental problems.

Your dental health can extend beyond your mouth to impact your overall health. Ignoring your oral health can potentially lead to other health issues, including stroke, diabetes, heart disease and more. Think of your mouth as a gateway to the health of your body. It can work in the reverse too. Other health conditions may require you to be more mindful of oral hygiene habits in order to maintain your oral health.    

DR. RODRIGO FUENTEALBA

Dr. Rodrigo Fuentealba is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and also serves as clinic director of the Faculty Practice Clinic located in the Dental Science Building on UK’s campus. His clinical interests include aesthetic dentistry, digital dentistry, dental implants and fixed and removable prosthodontics. More information on UK Dentistry is available at  www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

more articles by dr Rodrigo Fuentealba

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away along the journey.


Take a look at several common myths still lingering around and learn the truth about them.


Myth: I can’t see or feel a problem, so my teeth are fine.

Just because an issue is not visible to your eye or you are not currently experiencing pain does not mean you can skip regular dental appointments. Small cavities, just starting to form, generally do not cause discomfort, but they can be treated before they develop into a larger problem. Help head off serious issues by scheduling regular dental exams and cleaning.


Myth: Sugar is to blame for all cavities.

Sugar consumption can cause problems, but the acid-producing bacteria found in your mouth are really to blame. They can be fed by sugar as well as other items such as vegetables, fruit, etc. Cavities form