Don't Believe These Dental Myths

Think you know how to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful? That knowledge may actually be a misconception if you believe any of the myths recently debunked by a professor at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

These are some of the common misunderstandings that could keep you from having a superior smile.

MYTH: More sugar equals more decay.
We're not giving you the green light to gorge on sweets-sugar still causes cavities. But it's how long that sugar stays in contact with your teeth that increases the chances for decay.

"Foods such as slowly-dissolving candies and soda are in the mouth for longer periods of time," Tufts' Carole Palmer, EdD, RD explains in Nutrition Today. "This increases the amount of time teeth are exposed to the acids formed by oral bacteria from the sugars."

MYTH: An unhealthy mouth is an isolated issue.
There's a huge amount of evidence that links oral health to overall health, and the connection to heart disease has been in the news quite a bit over the past few years. But did you know that eating poorly while pregnant can affect an unborn child's chances of future tooth decay?

According to Palmer, "deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, protein and calories could result in oral defects." A lack of vitamins B6 and B12 could even increase the risk of a cleft palate or lip.

MYTH: Dental decay is only an issue among younger people.
You may have gotten most of your cavities as a kid, but adults face unique and serious dental risks. Tooth decay can be influenced by the use of certain medications-namely diuretics, antidepressants and antihistamines- because they reduce saliva production. Additionally, if gums start to recede, if can lead to root decay.

MYTH: Dentures force people to eat smarter.
Dentures may be the result of losing teeth to poor oral health, but that doesn't mean a person will eat healthier food once they've switched to removable false teeth. Instead, if they fit poorly, people are more likely to choose easy-to-chew foods that are often low in nutritional value, like cake and white bread.

"First, denture wearers should make sure that dentures are fitted properly," Palmer says. "In the meantime, if they are having difficulty chewing or have mouth discomfort, they can still eat nutritious foods by having cooked vegetables instead of raw, canned fruits instead of raw, and ground beef instead of steak."

MYTH: Osteoporosis affects only the lower body.
Because teeth are held in place by the jaw, a bone, and any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, this condition can lead to tooth loss. Calcium, and vitamins D and K are musts for keeping bones and teeth healthy.

MYTH: It's OK if your child loses baby teeth to decay.
Children naturally lose all of their baby teeth, but that doesn't mean it's normal or healthy to lose them by means of decay. The decay can affect the developing adult teeth, and if the decay causes poor positioning of the permanent teeth, the need for braces is virtually guaranteed.

Did you believe any of these myths? Which ones? Let us know by leaving a comment below.