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Common Myths and Misconceptions About Cavities

Written by Valley Oak Dental on . Posted in Dental Procedures & Services, Uncategorized

In 2012, researchers estimated that around 91 percent of adults between 20 and 64 suffered from some level of tooth decay on their teeth. Tooth decay is an epidemic that if left untreated can lead to cavities. While a lot of information about preventing and treating cavities is out there, this information might not be accurate unless it came from your dentist.

Here are a few of the most common myths and misconceptions associated with dental cavities.

Sugar Is the Direct Cause of Cavities

When you were young, chances are your mother told you to stay away from candy, chocolate, soda, and other sugary sweets. This is because of a common misconception about cavities: they are only caused by the overconsumption of sweet, sugary treats.

In reality, the sugar found in your favorite treats isn’t the only culprit. Sugar is found in carbohydrate-heavy foods, such as breads, rice, and potatoes as well. When the sugar from these and other foods mixes with the bacteria found inside your mouth, it creates acids. It is these acids — not sugar itself — that actually lead to tooth decay and, if left untreated, cavities.

My Infant Cannot Develop Cavities

Your infant is barely eating solid foods, but you’ve noticed something that looks like a cavity forming on their tooth. If you’ve heard that infants and babies cannot develop cavities, you’re sorely mistaken.

The bacteria that causes cavities can be introduced into your baby’s mouth in several ways. For example, if you test the temperature of your baby’s food in your own mouth, you may transfer the bacteria inside your saliva to your baby’s mouth.

Here are a few ways you can prevent the formation of cavities in your infant’s mouth:

  • Avoid putting your baby to sleep with their bottle
  • Never give your baby anything besides water, formula, or breast milk
  • Encourage your infant or young toddler to drink from a regular cup (not a sippy cup) rather than a bottle
  • Brush your infant’s teeth and gums at least twice a day.

Ask your dentist if your city’s water is fluoridated. If not, ask about the benefits of fluoride and the treatments available to your infant.

I Will Know Immediately If I’m Developing a Cavity

If you’ve ever had a cavity, you know how painful the experience can be. However, many patients do not realize they are forming a cavity in one of their teeth until the decay is very advanced. Having regular checkups will allow your dentist to pinpoint the early signs of cavity formation and, hopefully, save the tooth.

The early warning signs of a cavity are tooth sensitivity, pain while chewing, and black or brown staining on the affected tooth. If you notice any of these signs, contact your dentist.

I Will Know Immediately If I’m Developing a Cavity

Suffering from sensitivity to hot and cold in a single tooth is a potential sign you have a cavity. However, if you are suffering from sensitivity throughout your mouth, another culprit could be to blame. Here are a few of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity:

  • Bruxism. Otherwise known as tooth grinding, bruxism weakens your tooth enamel, which in turn exposes the inner portion of the tooth. This portion is connected to the tooth nerves, which leads to sensitivity.
  • Vigorous brushing. Using too much force when brushing your teeth will break down the enamel, leading to sensitivity.
  • Mouthwash overuse. Several types of mouthwash contain chemicals, including alcohol, which can cause sensitivity.
  • Gum disease. When gums begin to recede, which occurs because of gum disease, it will leave the nerves vulnerable to irritation.

The overuse of whitening toothpaste can also lead to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.

After I Have a Filling, I Don’t Need to Worry About That Tooth Anymore

When the tooth decay becomes severe and a cavity forms, your dentist will need to perform a procedure that eliminates the bacteria from the affected tooth. Once this is done, a filling is placed in the tooth, which helps put an end to the cavity-related pain. However, just because the filling is in place doesn’t mean that it is safe from further issues.

For the filling to remain intact, and to prevent further cavities from forming, the cavity-causing bacteria needs to be kept in check. A dentist can help create a plan to prevent further deterioration and cavities. This typically includes regular brushing and flossing and at least two visits to the dentist each year. If a patient follows a dental hygiene routine, they can help protect their filling for several years.

Tooth decay and cavities are a common problem for children and adults alike. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Valley Oak Dental Group, Inc. We’re happy to offer advice and help you set up dental appointments for the whole family.