Don’t believe everything you read on the internet! There’s a lot of misinformation out there and only your dentist can help you get the dental facts you need. Let’s look at 7 surprising dental health myths.
MYTH: Your dentist only cares about your teeth
Yes, your dentist does focus their care on the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth. But a great dentist will help you think holistically about how your dental health is affecting the rest of your body. For example, consider gum disease. Gum disease in the mouth may be an early warning sign of diabetes — or a sign of increasing diabetic complications if you already have the disease.
Your dentist can recognize signs of disease in the mouth and help you take better control of your overall health and wellness. To help your dentist, be open with them about your health history and any medications you’re taking. When you work together, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
MYTH: White teeth are healthy teeth
There’s not always a connection between how healthy a tooth is and its color. Medications and the natural aging process can give otherwise healthy teeth a discolored appearance. You should be more concerned about the true health of your teeth than how white they are.
That said, whitening your teeth is quite simple and can provide cosmetic benefits, as well as making you feel more confident about your appearance.
MYTH: Cavities in baby teeth aren’t a big deal
Since baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, does it matter if they get cavities?
It absolutely matters.
Cavities can hurt. If a baby tooth gets a cavity, it won’t get better on its own. There’s just no reason for a kiddo to be in pain.
Cavities lead to lost teeth. A baby tooth that comes out too early can lead to misalignment of the permanent teeth in the mouth or even bone loss in the jaw — just like in adults.
Cavities are often a sign of a diet high is sugar, poor brushing habits, or infrequent trips to the dentist. Childhood is the best time to build good dental health habits. Bad brushing habits can cause a lifetime of dental health problems.
MYTH: Fruit juices are healthier than soda pop
Is juice worse than soda? Many parents are surprised to learn that there’s not a huge difference in the sugar content of orange juice and Coca Cola! But for years, people thought of juice as a healthy alternative to sodas.
Sugar is sugar and the effect on your health is the same. Overconsumption of sugar can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay. Think of any sweetened drink as a treat, not the first thing you (or your kids) reach for. Water and lightly-sweetened beverages are a much better choice.
How much sugar is in my drink?!
Sugar is everywhere. Check out how sweet some of these popular beverages really are:
Whole milk = 4.9% sugar
Sweet tea = 5.5% sugar
Gatorade = 6.2% sugar
Orange juice = 9.3% sugar
Coca Cola = 10.6% sugar
Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino® = 14.3% sugar
MYTH: Wisdom teeth always need to come out
With wisdom teeth, it’s sometimes best to wait and see. If they’re not causing pain, not crowding, and are not misaligned, there’s probably no reason to have them removed. That being said, in many cases removing wisdom teeth in teenagers makes sense because:
Younger patients recover faster from the surgery with fewer complications
Wisdom teeth that are hard to clean can get cavities just like other teeth or have other complications down the road
Wisdom teeth removal is covered by a parent’s dental insurance
If you never had your wisdom teeth out as a kid or if you have teenage children, the best thing you can do is to talk to your dentist. Don’t immediately assume an extraction is the only option.
MYTH: Cosmetic dentistry is just for looks
Many people only think celebrities in Hollywood get veneers or have their teeth whitened. But there’s so much more to cosmetic dentistry than just red carpet smiles. Sure, cosmetic dentistry can change how your teeth look. But much more importantly, cosmetic dentistry changes how you feel about yourself and how you present yourself to the world. Whiter and straighter teeth can make you feel younger and more confident about yourself.
But some cosmetic dental treatments have measurable health benefits, too:
White composite fillings – Not only do they look like natural teeth, white fillings actually strengthen the remaining tooth and prevent cracks and fractures
Veneers – Can produce a more consistent bite and protect the long-term health of your teeth
Invisalign – Clear braces straighten your teeth and close gaps between teeth, giving bacteria and bits of food fewer places to hide
MYTH: Snoring is normal
Ever joked with your partner about your loud snoring? Wondered if you should tell your roommate or a houseguest about their snoring habits?
Occasional bouts of snoring are probably nothing to worry about. However, chronic snoring is not normal and can be a sign of sleep apnea or other form of sleep disordered breathing. Sleep apnea is believed to affect nearly 10% of adults and likely many more because it’s so often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.
Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while asleep, often dozens or hundreds of times every night. This lack of oxygen triggers a gasping sensation and a brief period of waking. Oftentimes, these episodes last for just seconds and you won’t remember them in the morning.
In addition to ongoing snoring, sleep apnea may cause:
Forgetfulness or inability to concentrate
Poor performance at work or school
Left untreated, there is mounting evidence that sleep apnea may contribute to heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Other warning signs and risk factors include obesity, tobacco use, and genetics — men are 2x as likely to suffer as women.
Your dentist can help you assess your risk of sleep apnea and create a treatment plan that may include:
Oral appliance – Like a retainer worn while you sleep, an oral appliance can support your airway, preventing episodes of sleep apnea
CPAP machine – A proven treatment that prevents sleep apnea by creating a steady flow of pressurized air for you to breathe while you sleep
Schedule your appointment at Batchelor Dentistry
Want to learn more about dental health and wellness? Ready to see a dentist who’s looking out for your best interests? Schedule your appointment with Dr. Caitlin Batchelor today and learn more dental myths and dental facts.