Cavities are an incredibly common oral health issue, but despite their prevalence, there are still some persistent myths related to cavities. Sadly, believing these myths could lead you to make some bad decisions regarding your dental health. By dispelling some of the most common cavity myths, you can better understand how tooth decay really affects your oral health.
Myth #1: All Cavities Require Replacement
It is certainly true that specific types of fillings might require replacement in the future, but not all fillings fall into that category. While porcelain fillings may need replacement every decade or so, amalgam or composite fillings can actually last for life as long as the tooth remains healthy. That is one of the many reasons that good oral hygiene is so important.
Myth #2: Cavities Are Always Painful
In the early stages, a cavity might not hurt, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to treat it. Many cavities don’t cause pain until they’ve progressed into severe problems. At this point, they may require extensive and costly treatment to fix, so it is important to keep up with your regular dental screenings. Your dentist can spot a cavity when it is still easy to treat.
Myth #3: You Don’t Need to Worry about a Cavity in a Baby Tooth
Unfortunately, many parents buy into the myth that caring for the baby teeth just isn’t that important, as they’ll fall out eventually. In reality, the baby teeth serve an important role in your child’s oral health, as they save space for the incoming adult teeth. Untreated cavities can affect the permanent teeth, and they can cause your child considerable pain and discomfort.
Myth #4: Cavities Most Commonly Affect Children
Some people believe that tooth decay is an issue that only affects children, but the truth is that cavities can strike at any time. In fact, childhood cavity rates have declined over the years due to advances in the field of pediatric dentistry. The development of fluoridated water, fluoride treatments, and dental sealants have reduced cavity rates among children, but the same can’t be said for older adults. In fact, senior citizens have experienced an increase in cavities in recent years, possibly due to prescription medications that can cause dry mouth.
Myth #5: Tooth Sensitivity is Always a Sign of a Cavity
If your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a cavity. Sensitivity can be caused by a host of issues, including enamel erosion, gum recession, tooth grinding, and even a crack in the tooth. While this issue is certainly worth a trip to the dentist to talk about the source of the problem, it doesn’t always point to a cavity.
Myth #6: Eating Candy is the Main Cause of Cavities
Sugar itself is not the cause of cavities. The process begins when a sticky film known as plaque accumulates on the teeth. Plaque is full of acid-producing bacteria that wear away at the enamel. With time, this acid attack can lead to decay, which causes cavities. While the bacteria found in plaque do feed on sugar, most foods contain sugar to some extent, so candy bars are really no worse on the teeth than white bread or saltine crackers.
Myth #7: If a Tooth Stops Hurting, You No Longer Need a Filling
If you have an appointment for a filling scheduled but your tooth no longer hurts, it doesn’t mean that you can skip your procedure. Your cavity will not cure itself, and a break in the pain may be a sign of a more serious problem. This issue could indicate that the nerves deep inside of the tooth have been compromised, so it is even more important to follow through with your trip to the dentist.
Don’t let myths and misinformation affect the way that you think about cavities. By separating fact from fiction, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to keep your mouth healthy.