10 Common Dental Misconceptions
By Dr Abdul Rehman Rashid
Here are ten misconceptions you probably had or still have at one point or another. It's high time that you clear things up and make amends with your dentist.
MYTH #1: Whiter teeth means healthy teeth.
FACT: The shade or color of your teeth doesn't necessarily correlate to how healthy they are. Few factors that dentists base the condition of your teeth are presence of cavities, gum health, and jaw bone health, Though a whiter and brighter smile can give you a boost of self-confidence, ensuring you have a healthy set of teeth should be at the top of your list.
MYTH #2: Bleeding gums is normal. It happens to everyone!
FACT: Bleeding gums is a sign of gum disease, which means there's nothing normal about it. It only means that you haven't visited your dentist for quite sometime now and that a lot calculus (hard deposits stuck on your teeth) have already accumulated, making your gums swell and bleed. Gum disease if left untreated may cause the loss of your teeth.
MYTH #3: Braces are for kids and teenagers.
FACT: Correcting alignment and problems in the bite at an early age is indeed the best time. But that doesn't mean that adults have no hope in achieving a well-aligned teeth as well. There are several options today that can help you achieve straighter teeth aside from traditional metal braces, all of which you can consult with your dentist.
MYTH #4: I brush properly, I don't need to floss.
FACT: Wrong. Brushing cleans only 65% of your teeth. What about the other 35%? These are the surfaces in between your teeth which the toothbrush cannot reach (even if you use ultra-thin bristles). Only a dental floss can remove food debris stuck in those areas. Neglecting to floss (which you should do at least every night) may lead to cavities you won't even notice because...yes, you guessed it right..they are formed in between your teeth and can be detected only by dental x-rays.
MYTH #5: It's just baby teeth..it will be replaced anyway. No need for my kid to see the dentist.
FACT: Baby teeth are as important as permanent teeth. A lot of parents are misinformed about this. Imagine your child experiencing severe toothache just because you haven't brought him/her to the dentist before. Cavities on baby teeth should be filled and restored before they lead to toothache or infection. They also play a big role in guiding the erupting permanent teeth to the right position. If a baby tooth is removed too early (might be due to severe decay), the space for the erupting permanent tooth is usually lost resulting in misalignment.
MYTH #6: Dentist = Pain
FACT: So many people are afraid of the dentist. Dental phobia is a common reason why patients don't go for their appointments. They always associate the dentist as to someone who inflicts pain...a lot of it. Well, this is not true. Most routine dental procedures such as scaling, polishing, and tooth fillings can be done without anesthesia. Though some might experience some sensitivity and discomfort, these procedures are often well-tolerated.
MYTH #7: Well-aligned teeth has only an aesthetic value.
FACT: A beautiful smile can boost a person's confidence at any stage in his/her life. But, having straight teeth also means an easier-to-maintain good oral hygiene which is a habit we all want to develop at an early age. When there's crowding of the teeth, some surfaces (the overlapping parts) are not brushed properly, eventually leading to gum disease and/or tooth decay. In addition, correction of a bad bite produces an even distribution of biting forces on all the teeth, reducing the risk of trauma to the jaw joints as compared to someone whose teeth do not occlude properly or do not touch at all (open bite). Getting an orthodontic assessment from your dentist will determine if you have a malocclusion that needs correcting.
MYTH #8: Dental scaling will abrade my teeth.
FACT: Everything done in excess is bad for you. Dental scaling and polishing if done at the right intervals will not do any damage to your teeth. This interval is usually 6 months apart, unless otherwise recommended by your dentist or hygienist. Patients who are prone to gum disease may need to see their dental health practitioner every 3-4 months.
MYTH #9: It's alright to wear my dentures 24/7.
FACT: Removing your dentures before going to bed at night is recommended. This let's your gums breathe from the constant pressure of the dentures. It also gives you the opportunity to care for your dentures by soaking them in a denture cleaning solution. Dentures if left unclean might become home to a lot of bacteria causing sores and irritation to the gums and palate.
MYTH #10: Dental treatments cost a fortune.
FACT: The only reason you will have to spend so much on a dental treatment is because you didn't take care of your teeth as much as you should have. As the old saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure". Neglect, or rather, the result of neglect is always costlier than the routine dental appointments that pops up in your calendar twice a year.