Dr. Rene Piedra has heard all the myths about visiting a dentist. Despite all the benefits that come with properly maintained teeth, the myths are still out there. These urban legends are so prevalent the American Dental Association (ADA) has over 10 pages on their website devoted to myths about dentistry.
In an effort to reduce patient anxiety about dental care, Dr. Rene Piedra debunks the most widespread myths.
Myth # 1 Teeth Brushing
Brushing the teeth more than once a day can harm the enamel:
This is False! When using a soft bristle brush you can safely brush after every meal or after eating a sticky sugary snack. At minimum people should brush and floss at least twice a day.
Baby teeth do not need to be brushed:
This is False! Brushing and flossing establishes good habits in children, even if the parent is doing it. Daily brushing and flossing helps prevent cavities or tooth decay, which can affect the development of the permanent teeth.
Brushing with salt or lemon juice will whiten teeth:
This is really false! Brushing with salt will cut the gums and rub away the outer layer of the tooth. Lemon juice will erode the outer enamel covering and cause sensitivity and rapid tooth decay.
“Some myths are funny and some are dangerous. Stick to a toothpaste that has been approved by experts,” Dr. Rene Piedra said.
If your gums are bleeding stop brushing:
This is false! Bleeding gums are a sign of plaque and debris accumulating around the teeth. When the body finds an inflammation or infection it delivers antibodies via the blood stream. This is why there is bleeding. Daily brushing and flossing will start the healing process.
Myth # 2 Cavities
Place an aspirin on a tooth to stop the pain:
This is false! Placing an aspirin on or near a painful tooth can burn the gums and result in an abscess. An aspirin can help with tooth pain but only if you swallow it.
“When in pain visit a dentist to find out why it hurts,” Dr. Rene Piedra said.
All cavities are painful:
This is false! Small cavities will often not hurt. A painful cavity is caused by a decayed tooth that has damaged the nerves. A regular check-up can find the small cavities and fix them before they become painful.
Small cavities can repair themselves:
This is false! A tooth is not designed to repair itself.
“A cavity will only get bigger,” Dr. Rene Piedra said. “Once it gets below the enamel into the dentin, it will grow quickly.”
Myth # 3 Root Canals
A root canal is painful:
This is false! The myth surrounding how painful it is to have a root canal is based in folklore, long before modern techniques and anesthetics. A root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than any dental procedure. In reality, the most painful root canal is when you don’t get one when needed.
A root canal can make the patient sick:
This is false! Years of research and clinical study have determined that having a root canal does not cause an illness. There are no credible studies, reports or cases of a root canal causing an illness.
Extraction is safer than a root canal:
This is false! Having a tooth removed is a traumatic shock to the body. Extraction can also cause a considerably higher occurrence of bacteria entering the bloodstream leading to other complications. The main reason to extract a tooth is when the tooth is severely decayed.
Summing up the myths about root canals, Dr. Rene Piedra said, “Most misconceptions deal with pain. With modern technology, the root canal doesn't actually hurt!"
Myth #4 The Dentist
The dentist will be upset by the condition of my mouth:
This is false! Dentists are trained professionals who deal with difficult situations on a daily basis. Their only goal is to put you on the path to proper dental care.
The dentist will not understand my fear:
This is false! Dentists understand the fear of patients and will usually go out of their way to explain the process. By asking questions, the dental staff can help ease any fears.
The dentist will demand full payment immediately:
This is false! Dentists understand some treatments are expensive and may cause a financial burden on the patient. Talk to the dentist and they will help you find a payment schedule that fits your budget.
Myth #5 Daily Brushing and Flossing
Brushing, flossing daily and regular dental visits prevent cavities:
This is true!
“Of all the myths about dentistry, the belief that daily oral care prevents cavities is one I can support,” Dr. Rene Piedra said.
Visiting a dentist, like a visit to any other health care professional, can bring on feelings of anxiety. Dr. Rene Piedra encourages patients to educate themselves to separate fact from fiction.