WebMD did a great article recently that tried to separate some of the facts from the hype about cavities. In it, they point out that by the time they reach adulthood, most Americans have had at least one filling or some sort of corrective treatment to strengthen and repair a tooth damaged by decay. We thought it might be a good idea to talk for a moment about some of the common fallacies attached to cavities, as well as the truth about the damage they can cause.
Myth #1 – Cavities hurt.
Not always. One of the myths that may have lead to the damage from tooth decay is that many people don’t realize that they can have a cavity without pain in the mouth, tooth, or gums. In fact, by the time you’re experiencing pain, you could be working on a more serious problem such as an abscess. This is exactly why we recommend twice-a-year preventative checkups. Catching a cavity when it’s a tiny speck on a tooth is a much easier and less costly repair over waiting to have an abscess and root canal to save the tooth. Think of it this way: the longer the cavity goes, the most expensive it’s going to be.
Myth # 2 – Sugar is the only cause of cavities.
Yes, sugar is a big cause of cavities, but it’s not the only cause. Actually, any food, when stuck between the teeth, can cause bacteria and decay. If you’re not flossing every day, that means that food particles are getting stuck between your teeth. That attracts acids that can decay the teeth. Flossing, brushing, and rinsing, in that order, for about two minutes each in the morning and at night are imperative to keep a white smile.
Myth #3 – Sugar-free soda is fine for the teeth.
Sorry. Not so fast. In fact, sugar free-soda is terrible for the teeth. Sugar-free soda increases the amount of acid in the mouth. While sugar-free is always better than regular soda, which has enough sugar, literally, to cause diabetes, it still can cause a host of dental issues. Sorry! Instead of soda, try water. Water naturally flushes the teeth and gums, defending against cavities while promoting overall health.
Myth #4 – If a cavity starts, it’s going to ruin the tooth.
Not necessarily. The goal is to stop the decay. The process of filling a cavity includes cleaning out all the decayed sections of the tooth. Then we pack the tooth with an amalgam that helps strengthen the tooth while preventing further decay. While cavities don’t go away on their own a simple filling is a procedure that usually can save the tooth and prevent the decay from spreading. For teeth that are structurally unsound, there are other cosmetic procedures that we can accomplish to save the tooth.
Myth #5 – Fillings last a lifetime.
Fillings can last for 10 years or even longer. But eventually, they might need to be replaced. In older adults, we frequently see the older mercury amalgam fillings that actually can break down and spread mercury into the body. If you have these fillings, it’s probably time to have them replaced with a safer upgrade.
If you have any other questions about your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact Preferred Family Dentistry, your Las Vegas dental experts.