The Truth About Teeth

Knowledge is power. -Sir Francis Bacon

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. -George Washington Carver

Education is the movement from darkness to light. -Allan Bloom

It’s been said thousands of times, in just as many ways. Information is a powerful tool. On the flipside of that coin, misinformation can be extremely harmful. With that in mind, check out these common myths about cavities, and maybe you’ll learn something that could improve your oral health.

Myth #1: No pain, no problem

Many believe that if they aren’t experiencing any pain, they’re fine. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

“By the time something hurts, it’s gone way too far,” says Matt Messina, DDS, a dentist in Fairview Park, Ohio. “By the time it hurts, then the nerve of the tooth is becoming annoyed and involved, so we’ve taken a simple filling and maybe taken it closer to a root canal or something like that.”

Catching an issue before it hurts is always better, making regular checkups very important.

Myth #2: Sugar-Free Soda Can’t Cause Cavities

It’s not just sugar that can cause cavities. Anything that makes your mouth more acidic and cause havoc, including diet sodas.

“It’s better than having a sugary soda,” Hans Malmstrom, DDS, of the Eastman Institute for Oral Health in Rochester, New York, says. “But all sodas, more or less, have a low pH, and low pH causes erosion to your teeth.”

Once erosion begins, it’s a lot easier for cavities to form.

Myth #3: A Brown Spot Indicates a Cavity

This is not always true.

“A lot of time what it is, that decay process started but then it stopped. [The enamel on the tooth] hardened up again,” said Andy Marashi, DDS, a Seattle dentist. “And a lot of times, when it hardens up, it has a discolored look to it. But it’s not necessarily a cavity.”

Myth #4: Aspirin Next to a Cavity Helps

This old home remedy might help, but it might do more damage than good.

“You’re going to burn the [gum] tissue. You may reduce the pain a little bit in the tooth itself, but it’s not going to help the tooth long term,” Malmstrom says.

If you have a sore tooth, you likely have a gum issue or a nerve problem inside the tooth. Burning the tissue might help a little, but aspirin isn’t meant for that. Additionally, if you eventually see your dentist, the acid from the aspirin can make it more difficult to numb the area that needs work.

Myth #5: A Filling is Forever

Teeth don’t last forever, so neither do fillings. Your fillings may need to be repaired or replaced throughout the lifetime of the tooth, and eventually, your tooth may need replaced too.

“Not only can the filling wear and break down, but the tooth can still decay around the edges of the filling,” Messina adds. “Nothing’s permanent. But the better care we take of our teeth, the longer we can make them last.”

Myth #6: Cavities are for kids

This is absolutely not true. Sugary drinks, poor oral hygiene, even genetics can lead to cavities at any age. Adults who take medications are especially susceptible, as their medicines can lead to dry mouth. Saliva plays a vital role in rinsing acids out of your mouth, and without it, bacteria can cause real issues. Poor eating habits, like snacking all day and constantly sipping sodas, don’t help either.

“Unfortunately, the risk for cavities exists from the time the first tooth erupts to the time the last tooth falls out,” says Maricelle Abayon, DDS, a dentist from Rochester, NY. “The key is to kind of be very vigilant. A cavity is not the end of the world. But having multiple cavities, at any age, can impair your quality of life.”

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