October is Dental Hygiene Month. We think it’s perfect timing, considering the onslaught of candy that occurs during this spookiest of seasons! Here at Lance Johnson Family Dentistry in Sherman, TX, we’re haunted by the monstrous myths we hear about oral health. Things like “I’m too young to have gum disease” or “diet drinks are fine for teeth” give us the heebie-jeebies. So this Halloween season, we want to set the record straight about these sinister stories and keep our clients as healthy as possible. Here are six of the creepiest tales ever told about teeth — along with the real story about how to keep your mouth in tiptop shape, with no scares.
1. “I’m too young to have gum disease!”
Not true. Gum disease can occur at any age and any stage of life. It’s a myth that only older folks have gum issues. While periodontal disease (gum disease) does tend to worsen with age, gum disease can take root in much younger people. In fact, the CDC reports that nearly half of Americans older than 30 are walking around with gum disease — and for many, the disease started with poor hygiene in their childhood. Smokers are especially vulnerable to gum disease, as are people with diabetes, AIDs, and taking certain medications. Gum disease is also a matter of luck; genetics can make you more susceptible to having trouble with gum health.
Fortunately, starting kids off with smart gum care can set them up well for life. Managing the plaque that causes gum disease with daily brushing and flossing is easy. Regular visits to your dentist for proper professional cleanings will also banish gingivitis (gum inflammation). If you have any bleeding or irritation after brushing your teeth or flossing, it could be a sign that it’s time to see your dentist and get your gums back on track.
2. “I don’t feel any pain, so my teeth must be fine.”
Nope! We hear this one a lot — and it’s the myth most likely to cause real problems. Many, many serious dental or oral issues won’t immediately cause pain. For example, though an acute infection in a tooth can hurt, it’s usually only when it’s causing swelling and pressure. If there’s an infection, but the tooth is draining, there might not be enough pressure to cause pain — despite the mounting danger a growing infection can cause. Infection can also kill off the nerves in a tooth.
Gum disease pain usually happens in later stages, when your mouth has already suffered from gum erosion, tooth socket damage, and teeth coming loose. This is a terrible stage to get to — and it’s usually irreversible. So don’t wait for the ouch! Instead, make proactive, regular professional dental care part of your life, and nip potential problems in the bud. And remember that old adage: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3. “Baby teeth don’t really matter.”
You’d be surprised how much the health of baby teeth matter! They’re the placeholders for the permanent teeth. Cavities in these early teeth can cause decay that also affects the adult tooth that is forming. So don’t let babies or toddlers sleep with a bottle or sippy cup with milk, formula, or juice. Water only is key at bedtime, so sugary liquids don’t pool in your child’s mouth and wreak havoc in the form of decay.
4.“Flossing isn’t that important if you brush well.”
We might hear this scary myth the most. Nothing could be further from the truth: brushing teeth twice a day will not take the place of flossing. Flossing is the only way to clear away food debris between teeth and at the gum line. Flossing removes all debris, preventing damaging bacteria from growing and turning into gum disease. A little bleeding is normal when establishing a flossing routine. If there seems to be continuing bleeding, ask your dentist to check your gums — there may be some plaque or tartar that requires professional removal.
5. “Sugar-free diet sodas are totally fine for my teeth.”
That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But sadly, diet sodas are very acidic, and the bacteria in our mouth thrive in this kind of acidic environment. The acid from diet soda erodes the protective enamel on the surface of our teeth and can then cause our teeth to be painfully sensitive. Other acidic beverages can also make trouble for our tooth enamel, like orange juice or other citrus juices. So play it smart and stick to water, vegetable juice, and milk.
6. “I don’t have to brush my teeth at bedtime if I brush at other times.”
Not true. That bedtime toothbrushing is a big deal. During the day, our bodies produce more saliva, which naturally rinses away mouth bacteria. But at night, if we don’t brush our teeth, food particles stick to teeth until morning, and over time will create tooth decay. So brush those teeth before you head to bed — it’s an easy way to invest in a healthy mouth and fresher breath.
Got scary questions about your dental health? We’ve got a fear-free approach to dentistry, and we promise we’ll take good care of you — and help you banish all the dental baddies for a happy, healthy mouth for years to come. So give us a call here at the office at Lance Johnson Dentistry, and we’ll make sure you’ve got all facts, no fiction, as you plan your oral health strategy!