Dental myths uprooted

Let's drill into the common misconceptions about dental care and fill them up with the truth

Dental Chair

Everybody hates being in a dentist’s chair. But more than the pain, one of the main reasons people avoid visiting the dentist is because of the preconceived notions they have about dental care. The fear of treatment due to the misconceptions often leads to the disease getting worse. So, let’s take a dig at some common myths and clear your mind of the tartar once and for all.

  1. It’s okay to eat natural sugar as it’s not bad for teeth.   Many foods have natural sugars in them and it is as bad for your teeth as processed sugar. If it stays, it too can cause decay. If a food is sweet, eat it in moderation. Further, rinse your mouth well after eating. Also remember to brush your teeth twice, and to floss.
  2. Dental procedures must be avoided in pregnancy.   The only procedure that pregnant women should strictly avoid during pregnancy is exposure to X-rays. However, they can undergo professional dental cleaning and emergency dental procedures with their physician’s consent.
  3. Anyways baby teeth are lost, so why brush them?Even though children lose their first set of teeth, they need to be taught to brush and floss for the simple reason that they need to acquire a healthy habit. Besides, if children don’t brush their teeth daily, they can get cavities, which hamper the development of permanent teeth. Cavities in children are treated using the same methods as adults—with fillings, root canals and crowns—which a child may not be able to take.
  4. I don’t need to visit a dentist till I have toothache.If you regularly visit a dentist, you will never come to a stage where it pains. Finding and treating dental problems when they are small is a more comfortable and less expensive way to take care of your dental health. Waiting for treatment till you are in pain means harming your health and hurting your pocket.
  5. Removing tartar or other built-up loosens teeth.When the tartar wedged between the teeth is removed, you suddenly see the gap that has always been there. Only, now it’s empty. That’s why your teeth feel light. However, the feeling passes in some time as you get used to your teeth minus the tartar. If you let the tartar and calculus stay, it will eventually result in gum disease. When gum disease gets severe, the bone holding the teeth in place gets eaten away. And this is what makes your teeth loose.
  6. Dental treatments hurt a lot.This was true perhaps a decade ago; not today, thanks to the progress in medical technology. The newer materials, more advanced techniques, equipment and instruments have made most dental procedures virtually painless. And if the procedure is done by a skilled doctor, you won’t feel a thing. In fact, even root canal, one of the most dreaded procedures, doesn’t hurt any more and can be done in just one or two visits. Besides, potentially painful procedures are done under local anaesthesia, which numbs you to any sensation of pain.
  7. Treating a decayed tooth ends all dental problems.A decayed tooth is often treated using dental fillings or a tooth replacement. However, these materials are man-made and often lack qualities of the natural tooth. So they might not hold and can fall off in some years.Moreover, even if they do hold and if you don’t maintain good oral hygiene, your tooth will start decaying again around the restorations used to treat the decayed tooth. That’s why after treating a decayed tooth, you need to take extra care by flossing and using inter- dental brushes. It also helps to visit your dentist every six months.
  8. I don’t need a dentist for stains. My whitening toothpaste can do the job.Whitening toothpastes are only good for lightening stains that are on the surface—the ones caused by coffee/tea and other food. But it won’t brighten the inner structure of the tooth. For that you need professional procedures such as laser bleaching, whitening gels or strips. These procedures brighten your smile inside-out.
  9. Extracting upper teeth affects vision.Teeth from a person’s upper palate are usually extracted when a person is in middle age. By the time most people reach that age, their eyesight has already weakened. And when the tooth is extracted, the swelling is seen on the cheek bones and sometimes near one’s eyes. That’s why people connect the two and feel that it affects vision.
  10. Keeping a painkiller tablet next to an ailing tooth alleviates pain.This ‘treatment’ can backfire. Keeping a painkiller in your mouth can burn the soft tissues surrounding the area where you place it. They are oral medicines, meaning to be ingested and not kept in the mouth. Hence, you need to swallow them after eating something to get relief. If the pain is unbearable, it’s best to visit your dentist; never self-medicate.

This was first published in the February 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Prakash Tekwani
Dr Prakash L Tekwani, BDS, has been in private practice for the past 28 years and has a multi speciality dental centre at Thane [E]. He is also associated with well-known hospitals in Mumbai as a consultant.


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