Photo: Getty Images
It’s common knowledge that brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist twice a year are good ways to take care of your teeth. But many aspects of dental care are misunderstood, which prompted a faculty member at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine to share the truth about six common dental myths:
Myth 1: Poor oral health only matters to your mouth
Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Decaying teeth can be painful, which can affect a child’s concentration in school. Mouth pain can make poor nutrition more likely as the child eats foods that are easy to chew which are often lower in nutrients. Long-term problems associated with tooth decay can include thinking and growth problems as well as obesity.
Problems with oral health can begin before a child is even born. During pregnancy, what mom eats can affect how the teeth develop in her baby. Lack of calcium, vitamins D and A, and protein can result in oral defects in the unborn child. Lack of vitamin B6 or B12 may also be a risk factor for cleft lip or cleft palate.
Myth 2: Large amounts of sugar cause tooth decay
The problem with sugar and cavities isn’t the amount of sugar. It’s the length of time the sugar stays in the mouth. Soft drinks and hard candies that dissolve slowly in the mouth are in contact with teeth for longer periods of time, which increases the risk of cavities. Teens who drink a lot of soda are at higher risk of tooth decay. Diet or sugar-free drinks as well as liquids with higher acid content such as lemonade have a lower risk of tooth decay, but may also contribute to the loss of tooth enamel.
Myth 3: It’s okay for baby teeth to decay
Some parents are not worried about their child’s baby teeth decaying since those teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth. Unfortunately, the same sugary juices and other foods and drinks that cause tooth decay in baby teeth can also cause problems for permanent teeth. The crowns are the flat surfaces of the larger teeth or molars.