Halloween may be over but more candy-fueled holidays are just around the corner. Ever wonder if bad teeth are genetic or if candy is really to blame for cavities? Do you know if you really need to floss every day? We’ve got your dental myths busted here.
Myth #1: You need to floss every day.
Dentists say it, but does that make it true? No! In fact, the recommendation to floss daily was recently revoked from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, the Associated Press published an article in 2016 concluding that flossing didn’t lead to better oral health. They found that the evidence for flossing was weak and that it didn’t directly reduce the risk of cavities.
But don’t toss the floss just yet. The American Academy of Periodontology and the American Dental Association still recommend flossing. And for good reason. Flossing helps remove debris between teeth, which improves gum health. If gums are unhealthy and become inflamed, it can be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease should be taken seriously because it can impact an individuals’ overall health.
Overall, flossing plays an important part of our overall oral hygiene. While it may not be crucial to floss every day, it should still be a part of everyone’s dental routine.
Myth #2: Candy gives you cavities.
We all know that candy is filled with sugar, which is why we assume that it is candy that gives us cavities. But that’s not exactly the case. It’s not the sugar that’s the main culprit for cavities—it’s carbohydrates. Carbohydrates—which can come from unhealthy food like candy or healthy food like crackers—feed bacteria that live on teeth. These bacteria cover the inside of our mouths and are alive, which means they eat and grow. The bacteria create acid-producing plaque. When plaque sticks around too long, it wears down the enamel of the tooth and a cavity is formed.
Daily brushing and mouth rinsing are great techniques to remove plaque and avoid cavities. Remember to use toothpaste that contains fluoride and brush for at least two minutes twice a day.
Myth #3: You don’t need to go to the dentist if your teeth don’t bother you.
While this would be nice if it were true, unfortunately, it is not. Many oral health issues can remain hidden and, ultimately, create bigger concerns if they go undetected. Visiting the dentist helps stop small problems from becoming potentially painful ones. More importantly, the dentist isn’t just looking at your teeth. At the dentist, a complete oral evaluation is done which includes your gums, tongue, soft palate, mouth floor, and lymph nodes. Issues with any of these parts of your mouth can be detected and treated with the help of a dentist. In fact, a dentist is able to help detect many non-oral conditions including diabetes, HIV, and osteoporosis.
Myth #4: Bad oral hygiene runs in your family.
The overall health of your mouth is most directly related to how well you take care of it. While genetics can play a role in oral health, it is environmental factors that will most significantly impact the likelihood of cavities and gum disease. Interestingly enough, genes have a role in oral health when an individual is young, such as the bacteria a baby is born with. However, as people age, environmental factors play the biggest role. Environmental factors include diet, smoking, drinking, and brushing habits.
Genetics can have a strong impact on oral health; however, this is mostly related to concerns such as cleft palate, teeth alignment, and oral cancer.
Myth #5: Gum disease is rare.
Sadly, gum disease—also known as periodontal disease—is not rare at all. In fact, according to the CDC, almost 50% of adults have some form of gum disease. For adults over the age of 65, this number jumps to 70%! The good news is, if caught early, it can be treated. The bad news is—if left untreated—gum disease can lead to bone loss and even chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The first signs of gum disease include inflamed and bleeding gums.
In order to prevent and treat gum disease, visit the dentist to create a treatment and/or prevention plan and make sure to brush daily.
Myth #6: White teeth are healthy teeth.
White teeth may appear healthy but that may not always be the case. Pearly white teeth can still contain plaque, cavities, and gum disease. The color of teeth does not always correlate with oral health and can vary greatly from one person to another. The shade of a person’s tooth depends on many variables such as age, genetics, and eating habits. Drinking beverages such as coffee and wine will stain teeth but doesn’t necessarily cause more cavities. The best ways to keep teeth both healthy and white include visiting the dentist regularly and brushing daily.
The most important thing to understand about the health of your mouth is that it is never too late to get great teeth. Establishing a relationship with a dentist is key to getting better oral health. Dentists at ImmediaDent are trained to answer questions in a way that is easy to understand, without causing unnecessary worry.