We all know the sinking feeling – you come in for your cleaning, you’re instructed to open your mouth, and you wait for what feels like forever while your dentist performs an exam to ensure you don’t have any cavities. The anticipation is never a great feeling.
Some patients are confused when, though they haven’t felt any pain, irritation, or sensitivity, their dentist delivers the news that they do, in fact, have a cavity. Many are under the impression that if you have a cavity, you’ll be able to tell – this isn’t exactly the case. This is also one of the first myths we’ll be talking about below.
Myth 1: You’ll Be Able to Tell When You Have a Cavity
Like we said earlier, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Cavities start small and mature the longer they’re left untreated. As the cavity is forming, you may never experience any symptoms at all – your dentist, however, will be able to detect cavities in their early stages. This is why regular checkups, cleanings, and vigilance when it comes to your oral health are all so important!
On the reverse side of things, cavities can inflict pain, sometimes a great deal of it. If you do feel pain or sensitivity that’s out of the ordinary, you shouldn’t be dismissing the very real chance it may be a cavity, either. If the decay has advanced beyond the beginning stages, then it’s likely to irritate you. Both are reasons to be consistent with your dental visits to ensure that anything forming can be quickly eradicated, and anything already causing you pain can be treated!
Myth 2: You Can Only Get Cavities From Too Much Sugar
Even those that stray far away from sugary foods for the sake of their health and teeth can still find themselves with cavities when the time for their checkup rolls around. How can this be?
Foods that are high in starches can be just as bad for your teeth as sugar. High starch content can be found in traditional favorites such as breads and pastas, and has the potential to do just as much damage.
This occurs because starch stimulates the existing bacteria on the teeth; sugar does the same. The faster the food left on the teeth following snacks or meals is removed from the surface, the more likely it is that the particles won’t have the time to form a cavity. This makes having a strict brushing and flossing schedule so important, and so worth it!
Myth 3: If You Snack A Lot, Your Saliva Production Rate Will Increase, Which Will Keep Cavities Away
The one true part of this statement is that chewing does increase saliva production within the mouth – both eating and chewing gum can do this. The consistent flow of saliva in the mouth helps to protect the enamel, and people often mistake this to mean that if they snack continuously, they’re offering this enamel even more protection.
This is a bit paradoxical. While the saliva flows regularly and protects the enamel, the consistent snacking is always introducing starches and sugars into the mouth that will work to harm the teeth by maintaining acid production. Unfortunately, the two don’t cancel each other out.
This doesn’t mean you have to stop snacking, however – just make sure that when you do, you’re brushing your teeth fairly soon after to rid of any remaining particles, and keep your teeth cavity-free!
Myth 4: If You Have Severe Gaps in Your Teeth, You’re More Likely to Get Cavities
It’s actually the opposite! Small, hidden crevices in the teeth make you a hotspot for cavities to target and develop within. These tight areas can be incredibly difficult to keep clean, making the risk even higher, and more likely.
Larger gaps, however, are a little different. They’re very easy to keep clean as much of the teeth are still exposed, with the mouth lacking in proper hiding places for bacteria. This is not to say that wide gaps are completely safe from tooth decay – it just lessens the chances, if kept clean and healthy of course!
Myth 5: If You’ve Already Treated a Cavity, You Can’t Get Another in the Same Area
Unfortunately, treatment doesn’t equal immunity when it comes to dental work. Just because you’ve done the right thing and went to the dentist to have your cavity filled and properly treated, doesn’t mean that outside factors can’t create another.
Sometimes, changes in the mouth can occur. If a treated cavity is once again exposed to bacteria due to a separated filling, the decaying process can start all over again. It isn’t a guarantee, but if the area isn’t being kept clean, you are putting yourself at risk.
Luckily, you can do your best to avoid cavities altogether by having a thorough and regular oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and trips to your dentist for cleanings!