In all probability, dentistry is as rich in folklores and myths as your grandmother’s memory! Here’s dispelling the fog of questions which we frequently encounter at our clinic.
Myth: Tooth decay is caused by worms. Fact: The Sumerian truly believed that tooth decay was caused by worms. Modern science would however beg to differ. Decay is a purely chemical process that is caused by the acid released by caries causing bacteria.
Myth: Medication cures toothache. Fact: Medication like aspirin can only temporarily decrease the pain of toothache. For complete remission, you require professional intervention. Home remedies can do more harm than good. Placing aspirin at the site of pain will only cause painful chemical burns.
Myth: Eyesight is affected by tooth extraction. Fact: There is absolutely no link between the two systems. Any medical professional will tell you the same. Any difference in eye sight right after tooth extraction is purely coincidental and has no connection to real life!
Myth: Brushing more, brushing harder is better. Fact: While many people actively follow this, this practice is extremely detrimental. Overzealous tooth brushing can lead to a weakened enamel surface which can eventually fracture and chip. This will lead to sensitivity and weakening of the tooth. Tooth-brushing should be restricted to twice a day for 3 minutes.
Myth: Oral health is genetic. Fact: There is no guarantee that you’ll have perfectly healthy teeth till a ripe old age just like your parents did. Neither will your teeth decay and fall off early, just like theirs did. Oral health depends on regular dental care, a good diet and with maintenance of good oral hygiene.
Myth: Cigarettes and chewable tobacco (ghutka) will only discolor my teeth. Fact: Tobacco stains should be the least of your concerns if you are a routine abuser. Not only can they cause a number of periodontal issues like recession of gums, loosening of teeth etc, they are the primary cause of oral cancer. Oral cancers have been proven to have a lesser 5 year survival rate than breast or prostate cancer.
Myth: Decay in milk teeth is ok, as they are going to fall off anyway. Fact: Primary teeth are succeeded by permanent teeth which are in close contact with the roots of the primary teeth. Decay in the milk teeth can affect the permanent teeth, making them deformed and decayed. Poorly aligned primary dentition can also lead to malocclusion in the permanent teeth. All this can be stopped with the timely intervention by a dentist.
Myth: Only chocolates cause tooth decay. Fact: Carbohydrates in anything, be it fruits, vegetables, sweets, bread or sugar, can cause caries. This is because of the accelerated production of bacteria which ultimately lead to caries. A diet rich in carbs will eventually lead to cavities, amongst other diseases.
Myth: Teeth Cleaning or scaling is bad for my teeth. Fact: Scaling is done to remove the calculus or tartar around your teeth which is rich in micro-organisms. These cause your teeth to become loose as they break the connection between the tooth and the gums. Removal of calculus helps remove this layer of germs, allowing your gums to heal and re-attach, preventing further loosening and ultimate loss of your teeth.
Myth: There is no need to visit a dentist unless you have pain. Fact: Just like a regular GP visit is advised, a regular dental visit will help prevent bigger problems later on. Most oral issues do not produce symptoms till much later, i.e., when you experience pain. You don’t have to get to this point, if you just pop in for a quick visit every 6 months at least.
Myth: All dental procedures should be avoided during pregnancy. Fact: Studies have shown that most dental procedures can be carried out safely during dental procedures. X-rays with lead aprons, scaling, RCT and restorations can be carried out safely. Extractions are safe in the first and second trimester and can be done under sufficient care in the third trimester too.