Myths and facts about cavities, part 1

The internet is full of information and misinformation about oral health.  It is often difficult to know if the information you’re reading online is fact or fiction.  WebMD has an entire section devoted to healthy teeth and included in this section is an article entitled, “15 Myths and Facts About Cavities.”  While this article isn’t specifically written about children’s teeth, many of the myths and facts discussed are common topics of discussion during appointments at our office.  See if you can identify fact versus fiction in the original WebMD article and read on for discussion of how these topics apply to children’s teeth.  We’ll discuss the first five statements here.  Check back for discussion of the rest of the statements soon.

1. Sugar Is the Prime Cause of Cavities – WebMD says: Myth

While it is accurate to call this a myth, there is no denying that consumed sugar is a huge contributor to the development of tooth decay.  There is also no denying that many children have a sweet tooth and love candy, cookies and other sweets. These foods, along with all carbohydrate containing foods are fuel for the bacteria that live in your mouth.  These bacteria produce acid which weaken the teeth and can ultimately result in cavities.  Try to brush your children’s teeth soon after eating sweets to minimize the risk of decay.

2. Exposure to Acidic Foods, Like Lemons, Causes Tooth Decay – WebMD says:  Fact

Many children are regular consumers of citrus juices and soft drinks.  These acidic beverages can contribute to the erosion of enamel and make teeth more prone to sensitivity and decay.  If your child’s teeth are regularly exposed to acidic foods or beverages, try following them with water to prevent prolonged exposure to the harmful acid.

3. Kids Are a Lot More Likely to Get Cavities Than Adults – WebMD says:  Myth

While WebMD correctly identifies sealants, fluoridated water and preventive care as factors in the decrease in school-age tooth decay over the past twenty years, cavities in children are still a huge problem.  In fact, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.  It is five times more common than asthma, four times more common than early childhood obesity, and twenty times more common than childhood diabetes.  The only reason this statement qualifies as a myth is because of the rapid increase in tooth decay rates in senior citizens.  In 2014, tooth decay remains the most common non-contagious disease in the world.

4. Aspirin Placed Next to a Tooth Will Help a Toothache – WebMD says: Myth

Aspirin is a medicine that works systemically.  That is, you must swallow it in order to experience the benefits.  Placing aspiring next to a painful tooth will almost always result in burning of the gum tissue and cheek in the area.  If you give your child aspirin or any other medication in pill form, make sure they do not hold it in their mouth for a prolonged period of time.

5. All Fillings Eventually Need Replacing – WebMD says: Myth

Most of the fillings that we place in children are in primary or baby teeth.  As a result, the lifetime of the treated teeth is significantly shorter than for permanent or adult teeth.  However, the same types of issues can arise for fillings in baby teeth as for those in permanent teeth.  As noted in the article, fillings can break down, new cavities can form around the filling and teeth can fracture.  Sometimes these scenarios result in a filling needing to be replaced.  Other times, a baby tooth that previously had a filling may be close enough to falling out that no replacement filling is necessary.  In some situations, it makes sense to remove a baby tooth rather than replace a filling in it.  Having regular checkups with your child’s dentist is the best way to determine the steps that make sense for your child’s situation.

If you have questions about cavities and your child, call our office any time to speak to a member of our team.


About the Author:

Since 1972, Salem Pediatric Dental & Orthodontic Associates has provided comprehensive preventive and therapeutic oral health care for infants and children through adolescence including those with special health care needs. We proudly serve the communities of Salem, Lynn, Peabody, Danvers, Marblehead, Swampscott, Beverly, and many more.
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