Our mouth is arguably one of the most important parts of our entire body as it is responsible for allowing us to eat, drink, speak and sing. But often our mouth, and teeth in particular, seem like a cavern of mystery. There is no shortage of common dental myths, like is it safe to go to the dentist when you’re pregnant and can a tooth dissolve in Coca-Cola? In this article fluoride myths will be debunked and hygiene myths and facts will be exposed to help everyone attain excellent oral health.
George Washington Had Wooden Teeth
As the first president of the United States, George Washington had access to the best dental care that one could find in the 18th century. Unfortunately, Washington was suffering from oral hygiene problems long before he became president. He began losing teeth in his 20s, which necessitated that he wear painful dentures.
Although it was a fun legend to believe that our first president had a mouth full of wood, it remains a common dental myth as they were actually made of rare hippopotamus ivory and metal.
When he was inaugurated as president in 1789, Washington only had one natural tooth left in his mouth. Throughout his life, he experienced pain and facial distortion from his dentures, which offers a valuable lesson today: always brush your teeth to keep those pearly whites healthy!
Whitening Teeth Means Weakening Teeth
As we age and subject our teeth to stain-causing foods and beverages, it is inevitable that our teeth color will darken. There are concerns that teeth whitening procedures can harm or weaken the enamel on our teeth, but is this true or a myth? The answer is, it depends. Teeth whitening can irritate the gums and having your teeth whitened too often can cause damage.
While teeth enamel may be slightly diminished because of teeth whitening, the effect is believed to be negligible. Laser dentistry as well as Zoom teeth whitening are two procedures that ensure that teeth whitening does not result in the diminishing of tooth enamel.
Laser teeth whitening works by using a concentrated bleaching gel and a laser that creates an effective way to whiten your teeth quickly. The laser procedure will not damage your teeth, and The American Dental Association deems these methods of teeth whitening as safe.
Zoom teeth whitening uses a bleaching agent (usually hydrogen peroxide) and blue light to lighten tooth color. Zoom whitening only takes 45 minutes, which is quicker than other whitening techniques.
A Tooth Can Dissolve in a Bottle of Coke in 24 Hours
While it’s true that any liquid substance containing acid and sugar has the potential to contribute to bad tooth health, it is certainly a common dental myth that teeth will dissolve in coke over a 24 hour period of time.
This myth is thought to have been started by a misquoted statement made by a Cornell University professor in 1950. Even Coca-Cola states on its website that teeth dissolving in coke is not true and that “The key to good dental health is to have good dental hygiene and brush your teeth regularly. It is also important to have these foods and beverages in moderation.” The truth is, Coke is indeed acidic but not to the point that it can dissolve a tooth in mere hours.
Mouthwash Containing Alcohol is Better
Common sense users should automatically throw up the red flag for this myth. Alcohol is not an essential part of mouthwash, making it one of the most common dental myths. In fact, dentists recommend using mouthwash that is bereft of any alcohol.
Mouthwash containing alcohol creates an uncomfortable burning sensation in your mouth and kills good and bad bacteria. Alcohol is also harmful to people who suffer from dry mouth. Alternatively, alcohol-free mouthwash targets more of the bad bacteria rather than the good, creating a better balance in your mouth.
A study by BioMed Research International says that “alcohol-free mouthwashes have a better effect on the gloss, colour, hardness and wear of tooth composite compared to mouthwashes that contain alcohol.” Alcohol-free mouthwashes are known to prevent dry mouth, halitosis, tooth decay, periodontal disease and plaque and tartar buildup.
For helping choosing a mouthwash, check out Super Dentist’s list of best mouthwashes.
Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe for Toddlers?
Whether fluoride is safe for kids is a highly debated topic with conflicting opinions. Thankfully, there are many facts surrounding this topic that will leave fluoride myths debunked. Fluoride has enamel-strengthening properties, which is why it is a great addition to oral healthcare products. Fluoride also works effectively to make teeth more resistant to acid and tooth decay, which reduces the risk of cavities. But does this mean that fluoride is safe for toddlers and children?
The real danger to children is not the use of fluoride—it’s the inappropriate use of fluoride. Too much fluoride can cause a condition called dental fluorosis, which can change the color of tooth enamel. If too much fluoride is ingested, it could lead to toxicity.
The Super Dentists recommends that toddlers (12 to 36 months old) who have cut their first teeth may use a small amount of fluoride. Fluoride is safe for toddlers (12 months or older) as long as parents limit the amount of toothpaste (pea-sized amount) and make sure they spit and rinse thoroughly after brushing. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride for both children and adults as long as it’s used correctly.
Can You Go to the Dentist While Pregnant?
One of the most common myths about dental hygiene is that pregnant moms should not visit the dentist. The truth is, skipping dental exams because you are pregnant is not advised, and here is why. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that put expectant moms at risk for periodontal disease and gingivitis. In fact, 40 percent of pregnant women develop gingivitis, which can cause premature births. Food cravings during pregnancy can also lead to poor eating choices that affect tooth health. Morning sickness during pregnancy often causes vomiting and the stomach acids erode tooth enamel. Both food cravings and morning sickness cause harmful bacteria and reduced teeth brushing.
But what about getting dental x-rays with all of that radiation? Getting dental x-rays is safe because a low amount of radiation is emitted and the heavy lead apron will protect you and your baby from harm. There is also no harm in getting fillings and extractions during pregnancy, because the procedure and local anesthetics are safe.
Out of all the hygiene myths and facts, this is an important one to debunk. Professional dental cleanings are vital for pregnant women, so don’t skip a visit out of fear for your baby. Pregnant or not, you should always visit the dentist for cleanings every six months. In between visits to your dentist, be sure to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol.