Utilization of dental services is hampered by multiple barriers which include culturally influenced
factors, misconceptions regarding oral health care, low education and health literacy level. Some concepts are nurtured like their religion- backed- beliefs and we all are blindly trusting them without our own research and perspective.
Dentistry is on the top of the list in health related myths. Here I am sharing with you the most commonly heard myths and their original facts.
- Myth – Removal of upper teeth affects vision ( eye problems).
Fact – Vision is not affected in any way by undertaking treatment of the upper teeth including its extraction.
- Myth – Dental treatment cannot be done during pregnancy.
Fact – Dental treatment can only be done during second trimester of pregnancy (4-6months). During the first 3 or last 3 months of pregnancy only emergency dental procedures to provide relief can be carried out.
- Myth- Scaling/removal of tartar loosens the teeth
Fact – Teeth are held in position by the bone. Tartar can sometimes bind the teeth together. Tartar causes gum inflammation and hence needs to be removed. After removal there may be slight mobility of the teeth, however this is necessary to ensure recovery of the health of supporting tissues.
- Myth- When the gums bleed, better not to brush the teeth.
Fact- Bleeding is a sign of inflammation of gums which usually have plaque and tartar and requires cleaning of teeth (scaling) to treat the inflammation. Stopping brushing will accumulate more tartar thereby aggravating the problem. Hence regular brushing with a soft tooth brush is recommended.
- Myth – The more you brush the healthier will be your teeth.
Fact- Over brushing the teeth can wear the teeth due to abrasive property of toothpaste. Although twice a day brushing regimen, rinse after eating and chew sugar free gum to avoid plaque build-up.
- Myth – Teeth whitening is harmful as it can damage the teeth.
Fact- Teeth whitening done professionally will cause no damage to the teeth enamel but it may cause teeth sensitivity and gum redness for short term.
- Myth – if the tooth is white in color it is healthy.
Fact- A tooth can look healthy and white and still have many cavities and decayed areas, which need to be treated.
- Myth – Toothache can be relieved by placing an aspirin tablet inside the tooth.
Fact- Aspirin tablet can cause burning of the soft tissues around the tooth. If placed inside the tooth, will not have any effect on the toothache. However the cause of the toothache should be investigated and treated.
- Myth–Good dental health can be inherited.
Fact – Inheritance plays a minor role. Proper brushing is mandatory for good oral health.
- Myth – It is better to remove the wisdom tooth because they usually cause problems.
Fact – Wisdom teeth need not be removed till they cause dental problems and become symptomatic.
- Myth– Dental Procedures are always painful.
Fact – Most dental procedures are nowadays done under local anesthesia and hence are painless.
- Myth- Use of tooth pick / floss creates the gap between teeth.
Fact- usually it cannot have such effects, but you must be careful when using tooth picks because they can damage the gums and other soft tissues in mouth.
- Myth – Cleaning of teeth is better with a finger than a toothbrush.
Fact – Toothbrushes can remove plaque and calculus from almost all the teeth and its surfaces and are much more effective compared to cleaning with a finger.
- Myth – Using hard bristle tooth cleans teeth better than soft bristle tooth brush.
Fact- Using a hard toothbrush can result in abrasion and removal of surface area of the tooth. A soft toothbrush — used properly — will clean the teeth with less risk of enamel loss.
- Myth – Babies do not need cleaning of teeth.
Fact – As soon as the teeth start erupting they require regular cleaning to prevent dental decay.
- Myth – Milk teeth decay need not be treated as they are going to fall off anyways.
Fact – Milk teeth need to be cared as much. They could cause pain if decayed and also lead to difficulty in chewing food. Hence they should be treated. Also if there is an early loss of a milk tooth it could cause drifting and misalignment of the erupting permanent teeth.
- Myth – Root canal treatments require lot of visits to the dentist.
Fact – With newer techniques, single sitting root canal treatments are gaining rapid popularity.
- Myth – Root canal treated teeth do not require crowns.
Fact – After the root canal treatment, the tooth may become brittle, hence it is necessary to crown such teeth. Also it ensures the fillings done after the root canal is complete do not get dislodged.
- Myth – Even after doing a root canal, tooth will eventually come out.
Fact – After doing a proper root canal and maintaining proper oral hygiene the tooth can last you a lifetime.
- Myth – Expensive toothpastes are always better than cheaper ones.
Fact – Cost of a toothpaste is not related to its effectiveness. Should contain fluorides.
- Myth – A sugarless chewing gum along with xylitol after a meal can be a substitute to brushing.
Fact – There cannot be a substitute to mechanical cleaning of teeth with brushing.
Conclusion: Dental myths may prohibit a person from persuing healthier oral & dental care and may gradually cause bigger problems. Importance should be given for oral health education at individual as well as community level regarding the myths so that behavioural modification can increase the oral awareness and dental care utilization rate. Visiting your family dentist will help alleviate fallacy. Proper dental care is part of everyone’s general health condition.
– Dr. Shobha Naik , Dr. Sachin Sinha , Dr. Swati Reddy