8 Myths and Truths About Oral Health That May Surprise You

Take care of your oral health

Questions That May Test Your Dental Knowledge

You know sugar leads to cavities, bleeding gums mean gingivitis, and teeth need to be brushed twice a day. But how much of what you believe to be true about teeth, and oral health in general, is accurate?

Ask yourself these 8 questions about common oral health myths and see how many you can answer correctly.

1. Cavities and gingivitis are common problems adults face. Can you actually prevent these issues from happening?

Tooth decay and all stages of gum disease, including gingivitis, are considered highly preventable conditions as most cases stem from poor oral hygiene.

Great at-home care, regular dental checkups, and a low-sugar diet are enough to prevent most cases of decay and gingivitis. Awareness of lifestyle factors that can increase risks, such as smoking or certain medications, is also important.

2. What’s another name for dry mouth, and why is it a problem?

Chronic dry mouth is also known as xerostomia. It’s often a side effect of medications, systemic disease, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, and undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea can also trigger xerostomia.

Xerostomia drastically exacerbates plaque buildup, leaving a person much more vulnerable to developing tooth decay or gum disease at a faster pace than usual.

3. How can a Vitamin D deficiency impact oral health?

A Vitamin D deficiency leads to several oral health complications. It inhibits jaw bone and tooth remineralization, weakens tooth enamel, and can cause orthodontic treatment complications.

Vitamin D also shares a strong connection with your immune system. A deficiency can lead to a heightened risk of periodontitis, oral cancer, and infection, as well as slow or complicate healing post-oral surgery.

4. Calcium and Vitamin D are vital, but which other vitamins and minerals are essential for oral health?

Calcium and Vitamin D aren’t the only nutrients necessary for dental health. Magnesium strengthens bone, Vitamin K encourages remineralization, Vitamin C boosts gum health and teeth mobility, and Vitamin A is crucial for cell development.

Taking a multivitamin is a great way to protect your body and smile. Your doctor can run a blood lab to determine if you have any nutritional deficiencies.

5. Can you name some different types of food that help keep teeth cavity-free?

Some smile-friendly foods and drinks you should add to your diet include:

  • High-fiber fruits and vegetables.
  • Dairy products.
  • Green or black tea.
  • Xylitol-based sugar-free gum.
  • Beverages or foods with added fluoridation.

Many processed foods contain hidden sugars and acids that can harm tooth enamel. Basing your main meals around whole or minimally processed foods is a great way to protect your oral health.

6. Sweets aren’t great for our teeth, but which other major food type causes cavities?

Sugar doesn’t just come from candy, soda, and sweet treats. Starchy carbohydrates are a processed form of carbohydrates that have been linked to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

Saliva breaks down these simple starches into a form of sugar that bacteria love to feed on just as much as sugar from candy. Opt for whole-grain bread over white bread or whole-grain crackers over saltines to keep your smile healthy.

7. Trees and teeth share an intriguing similarity: do you know what it is?

Cut open a tree, and you’ll see a series of rings that can give valuable information on its growth, the climate, and hardships it may have faced, like drought or disease. Similarly, teeth can also tell a surprisingly accurate story about a person’s life.

Scientists can examine a person’s tooth and determine age, general health, and the presence of systemic disease. Your teeth are a living part of your body that archives your health history, much like a tree’s rings.

8. You just ate a tasty meal and want to freshen your breath; should you brush your teeth right away?

A common myth about teeth is that the sooner you brush after a meal, the better. Initially, this idea makes sense—the quicker you’re able to remove stuck food or residual sugar from your teeth, the less your teeth are exposed to damage. However, studies show that this habit can be detrimental to your enamel if you’ve eaten something sweet or acidic.

A better habit is to swish with clean water and then wait at least 30 minutes before brushing, especially if your teeth have been exposed to something acidic, like fruit or soda. Another option is to chew a piece of sugar-free xylitol gum to eliminate food debris and freshen your breath.

Not sure if something is fact or fiction? Ask Monroe Family Dentistry to find out the truth.

Social media has made it easy for oral health misinformation to spread like wildfire. Before you attempt the latest DIY teeth whitening trend or use new products without the ADA Seal of Acceptance, give Monroe Family Dentistry a call. Some advice may be harmless, but many DIY tips can lead to enamel erosion or gum damage and even increase your risks of developing tooth decay or gum disease.

If you have a question or want to schedule a checkup, get in touch with your favorite Greenville, SC, dentist via phone or online request.