The Six Most Common Myths About Tooth Decay

Myth 1: “Fluoridated water solves all the problems.”

This phrase is categorically not true.  While fluoride in the water system has dramatically decreased the number of cavities in people over the last decade (down 50%), that still means that almost half the United States population is suffering from regular decay of their teeth.  The very specific reasons for this are that only half the cities in the United States fluoridate their water!  This is correct-only half!  If you are fortunate, you live in a city that does.  Even so, there may not be enough fluoride in the water to completely eradicate dental decay.  And let’s be honest, most people can’t stand the taste of common tap water and turn to other sources such as reverse osmosis or bottled water.  The reverse osmosis systems remove any fluoride ions in the city water and therefor negate the benefit.  And of course, bottled water should always be fluoridated.

Myth 2: “My dental insurance carrier says I only need two cleaning per year.”

Of course, corporate health care companies say that for the basic reason that this is all they want to pay for!  Yet, every situation is different and individualized.  It you regularly brush your teeth correctly and floss properly, then perhaps only two hygiene cleanings per year is enough.  Some of my young adult patients come in every 90 days, especially if they have orthodontic appliances.  These patients know how important it is to come back every three months, even if the hygiene appointments are not covered by their insurance plan.

Myth 3: “I brush, floss, and use mouthwash correctly. I have no problem.”

Are you sure?  Do you switch your toothbrush every 30-45 days like you should?  After all, you are leaving bacteria on the brush bristles no matter how well you clean it.  It is a good idea to change brushes regularly.  Please do not forget to throw out the old one.  By the way, are you using a new piece of dental floss for the upper teeth and the lower teeth, and moving your floss so you don’t use the same section you used to clean any non-clean area?  (This technique only moves the plaque and bacteria to another area.)  Finally, what about the mouthwash?  Most over the counter mouthwashes are made with alcohol which dries the mouth, making a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.  Far better advice is to utilize a fluoride rinse and use it regularly.

Myth 4: “All dentists are alike and have the same procedures and treatments.”

I am proud of the dental profession, however, not every dentist is up-to-date on all the modern techniques, procedures, and products available.  It is impossible, quite frankly, to keep up with everything.  Therefore, I suggest you ask your dentist what new treatments he or she recommends for your particular problem or your child’s particular problem.  Also ask when this procedure was first introduced into dentistry. This way, you can feel confident knowing that you made the right choice in dentists.

Myth 5: “All the fillings that you had as a youngster or young adult are totally sealing your teeth against future bacterial invasion.”

Again, this phrase is 99% wrong.  Many restorations that were performed from 1966 to 1976 are inferior compared to today’s standards.  It is an excellent idea to have a full-mouth checkup to see if there are any problems with previously restored restoration.

Myth 6: “No matter what I do, I’ll never stop all the sources of decay from attacking my teeth.”

This phrase is true and false.  My interpretation of this phrase is that the sources may attack but they will, in fact, lose the war.  You see, with new techniques and products, it is possible to seal your teeth with a process that guards against bacterial infection, and of course, this is the ultimate sealant.