Whether from a dentist lecturing on the importance of not eating too much candy or from a parent reminding them of the importance of brushing daily, by the time most children reach grade school age they have an understanding that cavities hurt their teeth. However, even though most people know that cavities damage the health of their teeth at a young age, their understanding of the causes and consequences of cavities often remain underdeveloped even as they grow older. As a result, a lot of confusion exists when trying to separate cavity fact from fiction. With that in mind, here are some cavity facts from Milwaukie Oregon dentist Dr. Sue Walker mixed with a few commonly held myths.
Sugar is the Main Reason Cavities Develop
Myth: A tricky statement based partially in fact, sugar doesn’t actually cause cavities to form, at least not directly. A sticky bacteria that grows in the mouth known as plaque produces acids that slowly eat away at tooth enamel. Over time, these acids can cause tooth decay, which leads to the development of cavities.
What makes this statement partially true is that plaque produces acid when it feeds on sugar. When you consume a candy bar, bowl of pasta, or bottle of soda, for example, you are providing plaque with the fuel it needs to produce harmful acids that damage tooth enamel. So to say that sugar causes cavities wouldn’t be entirely correct or incorrect.
Eating Acidic Foods Contributes to Tooth Decay
Fact: While eating foods and drinks like citrus juice, pineapples, tomatoes, or soft drinks don’t cause cavities on their own, they do possess the potential of damaging the health of your teeth. Consuming acidic foods and beverages raises the level of acidity in your mouth. When the acidity level become to high, the acid can begin to break down tooth enamel and weaken your teeth. Losing tooth enamel exposes the delicate dentin that lies beneath, which makes a tooth more susceptible to decay and cavities.
Kids Have the Highest Chance of Getting Cavities
Myth: Over the last few decades, advances in tooth sealants, fluoridated water, and preventative care has cut the number of cavities found in school-aged children by half over the last 20 years. The age group that has seen an increase in number of cavities is actually seniors. While researchers don’t know the exact cause, they believe that since more senior take medications now they are more prone to suffer from dry mouth, which is a symptoms of many commonly prescribed drugs. As the condition suggests, dry mouth causes the body to produce less saliva, which normally acts as a natural neutralizer against plaque acids. Without saliva to wash away linger food particles and acid, the damage done to a senior’s teeth after eating sugar becomes much worse.
Placing Aspirin Near a Toothache will Easy the Pain
Myth: While swallowing an aspirin can easy discomfort you might experience as a result of a cavity, the folk remedy of placing an aspirin near the source of tooth pain can actually damage your gum tissue. Aspirin is acidic, and when it begins to dissolve along the gum line it can cause a chemical burn, which might result in the formation of an oral abscess.
Every Filling Needs Replacing Eventually
Myth: While certain types of porcelain fillings may need to be replaced once every decade, amalgam or composite fillings can remain for a lifetime as long as the tooth doesn’t breakdown or a cavity begins to form around the filling. If you maintain your oral health by brushing and flossing daily, the tooth a filling occupies could stay healthy enough that the filling never need be removed.