Teeth play a vital role in our daily lives. They help us speak clearly, preserve the shape of our faces and help us chew our food properly. Apart from their functional role, they also enhance our smile.
With so many vital functions, it’s important to consider ways to maintain good oral health. Read on to test your knowledge about teeth and find out if you have any misconceptions.
1. Myth or fact: Bleeding gums are normal.
Answer: Myth. Bleeding gums are not normal, but the condition is prevalent. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a little more than 40% of adults 30 years or older in the U.S. have gum disease. Gum disease is an infection that can damage the tissue and bones that support your teeth. If you have bleeding gums, it’s important to visit your dental office promptly for further examination.
2. Myth or fact: Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body.
Answer: Fact. According to the National Institutes of Health, enamel plays a leading role in the resilience of your teeth, with much of its strength attributed to its high mineral content.
3. Myth or fact? All chewing gums cause cavities.
Answer: Myth. Sugar-free chewing gums that are sweetened with the five-carbon sugar Xylitol, a sugar alcohol found in plants, do not contribute to dental cavities because bacteria cannot easily digest these sugar alcohols and therefore, can’t produce acid, a contributing factor to cavities. Chewing gums with six-carbon sugars such as glucose, fructose or sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose, however, do enable bacteria to metabolize and may contribute to the formation of cavities.
4. Myth or fact? Using a tooth-whitening toothpaste gets rid of tooth stains that collect inside of tooth enamel.
Answer: Myth. While tooth-whitening toothpastes can remove extrinsic, or superficial stains on teeth, most don’t remove intrinsic stains that accumulate inside tooth enamel. Professional tooth whitening is necessary to remove intrinsic stains. At UT Dentistry, custom trays are made for each patient’s unique needs and patients are provided teeth-whitening chemicals to bleach their teeth at night, usually while sleeping. If done every night, this bleaching process can take about two weeks. Most patients see teeth five or six shades lighter with this professional bleaching technique. Patients may experience a relapse of a shade or two within the first few days following bleaching, however, their new, lighter shade typically remains intact for many months. After that, patients can obtain touch-up chemicals to re-bleach their teeth.
5. Myth or fact: Sugar-free soft drinks are better for my teeth.
Answer: Myth. While sugar-free soft drinks may not contain sugar, their acidity levels can cause demineralization of teeth with or without the presence of bacteria.
6. Myth or fact: Orthodontics is only for kids.
Answer: Myth. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, adults over the age of 18 make up one in three orthodontic patients. Adults can see an orthodontist for a variety of reasons from straightening their teeth and uprighting slanted teeth to correcting issues like shifting teeth. For additional information about orthodontics at UT Dentistry, click here.
7. Myth or fact: Bad teeth are mostly hereditary.
Answer: Myth. Other than a few metabolic diseases that can affect the hardness of enamel or inheriting deep fissures and pits that may make your mouth more vulnerable to cavities, typically, bad teeth are not inherited. Rather, lack of an effective dental routine is the culprit for unhealthy teeth.
8. Myth or fact: Dental implants are substitutes for teeth.
Answer: Myth. Implants — artificial teeth implanted into the jaw — are a substitute for no teeth or missing teeth. They are not a substitute for teeth. However, they can provide individuals with the ability to chew and can be an aesthetically pleasing way to maintain the look of your smile.
To make an appointment with Dr. Secrist at UT Dentistry, please click here.