More dental myths debunked

Last week Keystone Industries posted a blog about 10 cavity myths. This gave a little insight on oral health care and what actually causes cavities and what doesn’t. Here are some more myths about oral health.

MYTH: Always brush your teeth after ever meal

It makes sense to brush your teeth to get rid of leftover food on your teeth and in your mouth as quickly as possible. But that’s actually not the best idea. It’s best to wait for a while before brushing your teeth after a meal.

Your mouth has a two-fold defense system. One being tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the human body and the other being saliva. Saliva contains the same enzymes used in detergents to break down starches and antibacterial substances. Saliva is so effective that wounds in the mouth heal twice as fast as those located on the skin. So, saliva is your mouth is your teeth’s best friend.

So it makes sense to give you body’s natural ability to break down foods after you eat. The acidic atmosphere in your mouth temporarily softens the enamel and breaks down the food particles and washes them a way. If you brush too soon after meals you end up scrubbing tooth enamel in the process.

In the end, wait 30 to 60 minutes before brushing after a meal.

MYTH: Bleaching weakens teeth

Over-the-counter whitening products work by using oxidizing agents, hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide to remove pigment on the surface of teeth enamel. These at-home products usually contain 3 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide levels as opposed to 15 to 38 percent dentists use in the office.

Do these over-the-counter whitening methods weaken teeth? A The Ohio State University College of Dentistry study has shown enamel loss from 1.2 to 2 nanometers with of erosion with tray-type whitening agents. Overuse of these oxidizing agencies can cause both gum and tooth sensitivity and continued overuse may leave some of your teeth looking translucent. It’s also been suggested that bleaching can temporarily dissolve calcium ions in the enamel, but the enamel has the ability to remineralize itself over time.

While overuse of beaching can strip pigment of the enamel in your teeth it won’t weaken the structure of the tooth itself. But it’s important to consult your dentist whenever you use whitening methods.

MYTH: Extreme temperature changes can crack teeth

In theory, extreme temperature changes can crack your teeth, but you shouldn’t expect biting into ice cream would crack a tooth wide open.

A healthy tooth can absorb varying temperatures that occur in the mouth. Tiny hairline cracks on the surface of the enamel are actually quite common. You may even be able to spot a few on your teeth right now. These are known as craze lines; they are minor, shallow cracks that rarely pose a threat to the integrity of the tooth.

MYTH: A tooth will dissolve in soda overnight

During the 50s Cornell University professor Clive McCay wanted to alert Americans of the cavity-causing power of Coca-Cola. During a congressional committee, he said alarming things, such as Coke could erode through the steps of the Capital building he also said a tooth placed in a glass of Coke would dissolve within several days.

In reality, orange juice has more citric acid and as much sugar than soda, yet there wasn’t a crusade against orange juice. Recent studies have even found that many popular sports and energy drinks can be more acidic and cause more erosion to enamel than soda. There have been attempts to recreate McCay’s statements, but they have found that Coke doesn’t dissolve a tooth overnight or even in a couple days.

However, soda does lower the pH of saliva, which softens the tooth enamel. This allows bacteria acid to wear away the teeth quicker. Just remember, though, soda does have damaging effects on the teeth, mouth and body. However, it’s not as immediate as some myths may try to propose.

MYTH: A knocked-out tooth is lost forever

Unless you’re a hockey player looking for a badge of honor, no one wants to lose a tooth. But if a tooth is knocked out, avoid damaging the tooth even further, especially the tooth root.

If you find the tooth, rinse gently with saline solution while handling it by the crown. If possible place the tooth back into its original socket or store it in a small container with saline or milk. Milk actually contains proteins, sugar and antibacterial substances that provide an ideal environment for a lost tooth. Also the sugars found in the milk help feed cells, which need to stay alive and growing during the short term it’s out of place.

If you don’t have access to milk or saline, the inside of your cheek is a good place for short-term storage (but don’t swallow the tooth!).

Place pressure on the gums to help reduce bleeding and pain as you make your way to the dentist. Depending on the damage, a successful re-implanted tooth can heal significantly in three to four weeks, and even become fully repaired after two months.

MYTH: Wisdom teeth serve no purpose

Wisdom teeth, or third molars got their name from the timing of their arrival – usually between the ages of 17 and 25. The person is leaving adolescence and seeking higher education, hence they have more “wisdom.” But these molars are often unwelcomed, as they become impacted and or cause general mayhem to the surrounding teeth and bone.

Wisdom teeth and not considered vestigial organs or body parts that serve no useful purpose. So, why are these teeth becoming a problem, and don’t seem wise at all?

Well, one thought is the evolution of our diet and brains. Our ancestors ate coarse foods, causing tooth abrasion and most likely tooth loss. The chewing wasn’t just hard on the teeth but also the jaw, which became much stronger and larger. The changes of the jaw allowed form more teeth. But as our brains grew larger, our jaws began to shrink, leaving the extra molars with no space.

However, think twice about throwing your wisdom teeth away. Research has found that the pulp inside of molars contained highly sought-after mesenchymal stromal cells.  The cells are similar to those found in bone marrow, which will be important in the not-too-distant future when stem cells can grow your own replacement teeth. Wow, science is neat.

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Filed under Caries Protection, Dental Tips, dentistry, News, Oral health, Prophy Paste, Teeth, Uncategorized

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