There are several misconceptions involving dentistry, some propagated by dentists themselves. Following are eight dental myths you should be aware of so you can protect your mouth from harm.
1-Rinsing with salt water does not do anything for an oral wound. It just adds salt to your diet. A better rinse is chlorahexidine, otherwise know as Peridex™. Studies show that it kills the bacteria on the wound in your mouth. It is not used on a regular basis because over time it will turn the teeth brown. Of course, that is alright if you want to match your brown tie. Listerine is not as effective, but does decrease gingivitis. In any case, one should not rinse for the first 24 hours after surgery with anything, or spit out, because this will dislodge the blood clot that allows you to heal and form bone. Disturbing the clot will cause the area to start bleeding again.
2-Another common myth involves wisdom teeth. It has been told over and over that the wisdom teeth, if left in the mouth, will cause cause crowding of the lower front teeth. Ever wonder why no one says it will cause crowding of the top teeth? Actually, the lower and upper wisdom teeth do not cause crowding of the front teeth. Lower front teeth get crowded because they have very little contact with each other and will just slide past each other. In reality, the back teeth actually move backwards, not forwards.
3-Another myth involving wisdom teeth is that they could become infected if they are left in the mouth. That is only partly true. If they are partially exposed in the mouth, they can and frequently do become infected. But when the wisdom teeth are totally embedded in bone it is unlikely that any problems will develop. They should be monitored, as in rare cases, like other areas of the mouth, cancer can develop.
4-Speaking of which, teeth do not develop cancer. But the tongue, floor of the mouth, and any soft tissues in the mouth can become cancerous, which is why the dentist should be looking at those areas every six months.
5-There is a myth that ice should be used for all infections, all the time. It should only be used for an injury or a surgery, and not for more than 4 hours. On the one hand, it slows down the enzymes that break down the tissues, causing the blood vessels to dilate and thus causing swelling and pain. On the other hand, it should never be used for an infection that has swelling. Cold constricts the blood vessels and that keeps antibiotics from reaching the area of interest. This is another reason ice should not be used for too long on a surgical or injured area.
6-Another common misconception is that you should see a dentist every six months for a cleaning. There is no factual basis for this. This idea was based on a 1955 Pepsodent toothpaste commercial. Studies in Sweden demonstrated that the optimal time between cleaning the teeth was 12 weeks. Almost 80% of the population has periodontal disease, so everybody should get their teeth cleaned every 3 months. Also, insurance does not dictate what is healthy for patients, only what they will pay for.
7-Dried fruits are healthy. True, but not when eaten just before bed. When we go to sleep, the saliva in our mouths slow down its secretions. Saliva has a pH that neutralizes the acids formed by bacteria that digest the sugar, and the bacteria that causes cavities have a field day producing acid as a result. This is true of any sweet, sticky foods, including bread. Diet soda is acidic, and that will encourage the growth of bacteria that causes tooth decay. Incidentally, Israeli studies show that diet soda will change the bacteria in the gut, predisposing the person to develop diabetes.
8-The last myth is that diseases of the mouth won’t harm you overall. No, it will kill you. Really. An untreated abscess can cause septicemia, bacteria in the blood which causes your organs to shut down, or choke you to death if a lower molar is involved, Periodontal disease has been shown to cause diabetes, strokes, and heart disease.
Our dentist and team
at Mid Town Dental Services offer a variety of services
combined with advanced technology to take care of all your dental needs in New York City, New York, nearby the areas of New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Manhattan, Bronxville, Riverdale, Stanford, White Plains, Larchmont, Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. Please call 212-697-3946 for more information or to schedule a visit with us!