IT SEEMS WE ARE ALL KNOWN ABOUT DENTAL CARE: caries appears due to sweets, teeth need to be brushed after each meal, white enamel is better than yellow. But what if scientists have a different opinion? We turned to research findings and recommendations from reputable organizations, looked at ten popular opinions about dental and oral health – and debunked many myths. Put your toothbrush aside for now – you may be doing something wrong.
It is better to remove wisdom teeth just in case
“Eights” are teeth, which are often difficult to access for a doctor, and it can be difficult to treat them because of the unique anatomy. If the number of roots (one, two or three) for the remaining teeth is usually known in advance, then wisdom teeth often have abnormalities – for example, a couple of dozen thin roots intertwined together. In addition, in the process of evolution, due to the transition of people to relatively soft food, the jaws have become less developed and the last teeth often do not have enough space – we have all heard stories about wisdom teeth growing “sideways” or in some other wrong direction.
However, it is not advisable to remove teeth for prophylaxis. First, the extraction of teeth is in itself an unpleasant operation with the risk of complications. Secondly, keeping them healthy is no more difficult than all other teeth: first of all, it is important to take care of hygiene and reach with a brush even to “hard-to-reach places”, and now the treatment can be carried out even in a difficult case using a special dental microscope. In addition, a healthy wisdom tooth can be useful in the future if the first molar (“six”) is lost, these teeth are most susceptible to destruction for a number of reasons. Recently, in such cases, replantation is increasingly performed – the eighth tooth is transplanted to the place of the removed sixth.
According to experts from the American Dental Association , it is worth getting rid of the “eights” only in certain cases: pain that radiates to the ear or head, repeated inflammation of the gums behind the last lower tooth, the formation of a cyst or tumor, damage to adjacent teeth, deep caries. If the wisdom teeth do not bother, they have cut through and grow correctly, do not rest on adjacent teeth, do not interfere with chewing and are easy to hygiene, no unnecessary interventions are needed.
The teeth can be perfectly cleaned with an apple
Most fruits have a low pH, meaning they are acidic, even if this does not affect the taste. The highest acidity is found in citrus fruits, grapes, pomegranates, pineapples, apples and peaches, and among vegetables, primarily in tomatoes. Acidic foods can compete with sugar in their destructive power for teeth – in fact, sugar is harmful to enamel not by itself, but because the bacteria in the oral cavity process it, releasing acid. The acid destroys the mineral base of the enamel (this process is called acid erosion), and a little later bacteria are connected, causing caries.
Even with good hygiene, the acidic environment in the oral cavity can contribute to increased sensitivity of the teeth – the enamel does not have time to recover; this effect is provided not only by fruits, but also by carbonated drinks and juices . Brushing your teeth immediately after acidic foods is not recommended – there is a risk of damaging the enamel, but rinsing your mouth (with water or a special agent) or neutralizing the acidity with a piece of cheese is a good approach.
It is dangerous for pregnant women to have their teeth treated
The myth that it is dangerous for pregnant women to go to the dentist has been around for a long time. For example, the 1883 American Journal of Dentistry reported a miscarriage a day after a woman had a tooth removed. Nevertheless, now all experts are inclined to believe that it is necessary to deal with teeth during pregnancy, and with special attention. Due to hormonal changes during this period, gingivitis of pregnant women often occurs – swelling and bleeding of the gums. In a 2011 study, it was found that periodontitis can provoke premature birth or affect the weight of the newborn; this has been confirmed in another study as well .
Scientists have not yet confirmed the final causal relationship between these phenomena: there are too many risk factors affecting the course of pregnancy and childbirth. But the harm to the head area of the infection is quite obvious and certainly outweighs the small risks or discomfort associated with treatment. Local anesthesia is safe for both the woman and the fetus, it does not contribute to miscarriage, birth defects, premature birth or underweight newborns – in fact, the anesthetic works at the local level and practically does not penetrate the bloodstream, let alone pass through the placenta. The main thing is to inform the dentist about the pregnancy so that he selects the right drug. Dental X-rays, if performed correctly, are also considered a safe procedure, and professional dental hygiene should be done at least once during pregnancy.
Teeth grinding caused by parasites
Severe clenching of the teeth, sometimes with an audible grinding, is called bruxism. Although this condition is considered one of the sleep disorders (it usually manifests itself at night), teeth and other tissues are seriously affected by it: the appearance of the gums may change, the jaw bone may suffer, and visible cracks appear on the enamel. Quite quickly (over several years), you can see how the teeth become shorter due to abrasion, and at the same time the tissues of the face sag. Other symptoms of bruxism are headache in the morning, a feeling of poor sleep, ringing in the ears, pain in the temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscles.
According to Mayo Clinic experts , it is not yet completely clear why bruxism occurs – most likely it is a combination of physical (muscle tone disorders), psychological (stress) and genetic factors. Bruxism is common among children ; the myth that it is caused by worms is often spread by worried parents. In fact, grinding or clenching can be a reaction to teething pain or stress while preparing for a performance or exam, and children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are also prone to it. Scientists have not found a link between bruxism and parasitic infections . To reduce the load on the jaws and teeth, you need to discuss the situation with the dentist: most likely, the doctor will suggest wearing a special unloading mouthguard at night.
Milk teeth have no roots
Milk teeth are laid even before the birth of a child, and they begin to erupt at 4–6 months. It usually takes about 2–2.5 years for all twenty teeth to grow. Closer to six years old, milk teeth in a certain order begin to stagger and fall out, and they are replaced by permanent ones; the process of changing teeth lasts on average up to 11–12 years. When a tooth falls out, it really does not have a root – because by this time it has resolved. New, permanent teeth, moving to the right place, “press” on the roots of the temporary, gradually “dissolving” them.
Understanding how milk teeth are arranged is another reason to take good care of them. The roots of milk teeth hold a place for permanent teeth in the jaw: if a tooth is removed prematurely due to caries or pulpitis, then problems with the position of permanent teeth are likely to arise. Milk molars (fourth and fifth teeth) have two or three roots, and the rudiments of permanent teeth in this case are located right between these roots – so that severe inflammation can harm even teeth that have not yet erupted.
It is worth starting to use a toothbrush as soon as the first milk tooth has erupted . Before that, it is better to make an appointment with a pediatric dentist – he will not only conduct an examination, but also show you how to properly brush your child’s teeth, and help you choose a brush and paste. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears (the American Dental Association confirms this ), fluoride should be between 1000 and 1500 ppm.