When it comes to dental health problems, cavities are unfortunately quite common. And yet there’s still quite a bit of confusion about cavities, what causes them, and when they are most likely to occur.
That’s why we’re addressing 5 common cavity myths.
1. If I have a cavity, I’ll feel it.
Busted! Not necessarily. Cavities (or tooth decay) begin inside the tooth and it’s unlikely you would feel the cavity forming. A white spot appears on the enamel where the tooth has started to weaken inside. At this point, the tooth is fighting back with the help of fluoride and minerals in your saliva. But if the decay continues and eventually breaks through the enamel’s surface, the damage is done. At that point, you may notice some pain or tooth sensitivity. Your dentist will have to clean out the decay and fill the cavity.
So don’t wait until you feel pain to head to the dentist. Regular cleanings and checkups can help catch tooth decay before the damage is permanent.
2. Only sugar causes cavities.
Busted! Yes, it is true sugary foods and drinks can cause cavities, but starchy foods like chips, bread and pasta are just as bad. Clean up your diet and limit your sugar and starch intake. When you do have a sugary snack or pasta dinner, brush your teeth quickly.
Do your best to swap some of your sugary or starchy foods for healthier choices like apples, carrots or berries.
3. Baby teeth can’t get cavities.
Busted! Any tooth enamel – baby teeth included – is prone to tooth decay. To avoid cavities in baby teeth, use a toothpaste with fluoride and give your child drinking water with fluoride. Click here to read our blog, OK, What’s the Real Deal with Fluoride?
Also, never put your baby or toddler to bed with a bottle of juice or milk. The sugars will settle on their teeth overnight and can lead to tooth decay.
4. Only kids get cavities, not adults.
Busted! Adults are prone to tooth decay just as children are. In fact, among adults aged 20 and older, about 90% have had at least one cavity. Plus, older adults who take medications that cause dry mouth are also more susceptible to cavities as salvia aids in washing away bacteria, clearing food from the mouth and neutralizing acid in the mouth.
5. Snacking will help me avoid cavities.
Busted! Many people assume that by snacking, they are generating helpful salvia that rids the mouth of bacteria and food particles. In some sense, that’s true. But it all depends on your snack choices. If you’re eating sugary foods and drinks, it’s not helpful at all.
Instead of reaching for cookies, chips or soda, snack on fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of water between meals, which also helps clean the teeth. If you’re trying to break a snacking habit, try sugar-free gum as a substitute.
Did we bust one of your cavity myths? At the end of the day, the most important thing to know about cavities is how to prevent them. And that comes down to proper brushing and flossing along with regular dental visits. Also, avoid eating too many sugary or starchy foods (a benefit for your teeth and your body!).