We have found that a fun and effective method of learning is through the Question and Answer format. So we developed the “Dental Myth Busters” section of our website to address some common dental myths.
It's true! Cavities are contagious! Here's how it works:
The 2 types of bacteria that cause tooth decay, Strep Mutans and to a lesser extent, Lactobacillus are transmissable by human contact through saliva. Common examples of transmission include:
- From Mother to Child - decay-causing bacteria can be shared through eating utensils and straws.
- “Kissing Disease” - this phenomon usually occurs during teenage years. Youths that have been cavity-free for life suddenly develop cavities upon entering the dating scene.
The Good News: We have the ability to test the bacteria in your saliva with a simple test kit. With your test results in hand, we can help you create a defense plan to fight back and keep your mouth healthy!
Sugar alone cannot a cavity make!
Cavities are formed through the decay process, which is a reaction between Strep Mutans bacteria, which interacts with sugars to create acid. Acids actually destroy tooth structure. The old prevention lecture, “don't eat too much sugar and brush your teeth” is not true anymore. Controlling the bacteria and managing the frequency of exposure to sugars is the only effective formula to avoid cavities.
Read more about the Causes of Tooth Decay »
It may come as a surprise, but it's true!
The standard practice of seeing the dentist every 6 months is just a guideline, not a hard fast rule. The objective of routine visits to the dentist is to keep your mouth healthy. We know that achieving oral health is accomplished by creating a balance of nutrition and eating habits, maintaining proper oral pH, and preventive measures such as dental cleanings, diagnostic xrays, and increased awareness through risk assessments. For some patients, this means that we should see them every 3,4, or 6 months, and for others, once a year is enough.
Our goal is to focus on raising your personal “Dental IQ” and helping you with a personal routine to keep your smile as healthy as possible. In addition to having a smile you feel great about, we have found that a healthier smile has economic rewards as well, with less trips to the dentist and reduced need for costly restorative procedures.
Driving at last! The new found ability to “cruise around town” results in the ability to “cruise around town sipping a soda or sports drink.” As a result, we see a huge jump in decay activity at age 16.
Cavities filled during the teenage years will generally be worn out and need to be replaced when you are 40-50 years old. If you can prevent decay during these years, you will decrease the need for replacement dental work in the future.
Remember, it is the frequency of acid intake that drives oral pH below 5.5 and creates the opportunity for tooth decay. Cruising for a couple of hours while sipping on an acidic drink (with a pH of 2.2 – 3.0) is a disaster. The old adage “don't drink and drive” also applies to sodas and sports drinks.
Most water supplies contain fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay. New evidence indicates, however, that fluoride exposure during the first year of life may play a greater role in developing enamel fluorosis than scientists previously thought, so parents may consider reducing the potential for this condition by limiting fluoride from this source.
Enamel fluorosis is a hypo-mineralization of the enamel surface of the tooth that develops during tooth formation. As the tooth develops, fluorosis will appear as minor white lines or spots, or may be more pronounced with pitting and dark staining of the outer enamel layer, making the teeth appear “brown.” These changes to the enamel are permanent, and require cosmetic treatments such as tooth bonding or porcelain veneers to improve their appearance.
Our doctors recommend that parents do not mix powdered or concentrated baby formula with fluoridated water. Instead, use distilled or deionized water (boiling water does not eliminate the fluoride from water).
Visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site to learn more about enamel fluorosis: www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/dental_fluorosis.htm
When we sleep, our body rests. All of our systems slow down and recuperate from the day's activities. The oral system slows down also, but this is not necessarily a good thing! The slower flow of saliva and warm, undisturbed environment in the oral cavity create the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. This becomes even more problematic if you breathe through your mouth as you sleep; the constant flow of air dries tooth surfaces, allowing bacteria to progress even further without saliva to weaken their attack.
A good strategy is to thoroughly clean the teeth, gums and tongue prior to bedtime to reduce the bacteria levels in the mouth and minimize the opportunities they have to gain a foothold while you sleep. Rinses designed to destroy decay-causing bacteria (not mouthwash, which just kills the bacteria that cause bad breath) can also help.
Some people grind or clench their teeth during sleep, a habit also known as bruxism. This destructive behavior causes harmful wear to tooth enamel, and can eventually result in painful tooth nerve exposure or cracked teeth. Patients that suffer from bruxism typically benefit from wearing a nightguard during sleep; this is a custom-fitted appliance that keeps the teeth in a safe position and prevents contact during grinding and clenching.
Snoring and sleep apnea are disorders that should also be brought to the attention of the dentist. These conditions affect the flow of oxygen to your body during sleep, and can lead to more serious conditions. Some patients respond to oral sleep appliance therapy in conjunction with sleep medicine treatments.
Please Contact Us if you have any questions about your oral health - we want to help!