Cavities: Fact or Myth

Cavities cause pain and discomfort – people know that. But what most people don’t know are the consequences and causes of cavities. We all grew up being told by our parents and dentists that we needed to brush and floss our teeth or we would get cavities.

Without realizing it, many of us have grown up not being able to tell the difference between dental fact and fiction. Dr. Robert Walley is out to provide clarity by sharing some facts, and settling several myths about cavities once and for all.

Myth: Only sugar causes cavities.

Fact:  It isn’t just sugar. It’s also carbohydrates, and acidic foods and drinks, such as lemonade, orange juice, energy drinks and colas. The bacteria that naturally occur in your mouth feed on acids in these types of drinks.  

Myth: Children are more likely to get cavities than adults.

Fact: It is actually more likely for an older person to get cavities because of the medications many of us have to start taking as we get older. Some of the medicines prescribed by your doctor cause dry mouth, which reduces the saliva in your mouth. You need saliva to fight against tooth decay because it washes away food remnants.

“Children are less likely to get cavities today because of the sealants and preventive care that dentists offer,” says Dr. Walley. “But it is important that children understand the importance of good oral health because it will prevent cavities in the future.”

Myth: Fillings never need to be replaced.

Fact: All fillings leak with time. Think about it: do you really think a man-made filling can do the job better than the natural teeth you were born with? However, you can keep them for a long time if you take care of your teeth properly. You also may need to have your filling replaced if a cavity forms beside it or if it is cracked.

Myth: You will always know if you have a cavity.

If you have a slight cavity, there may not be any symptoms or pain. The pain is not caused by the cavity itself, it is caused by damage to the nerve. Some cavities don’t cause nerve damage if they are minor.

We want you to come to the dentist every three to six months for a cleaning and a checkup because it increases our chances of identifying areas of concern before they become more painful problems. Untreated cavities can lead to much more extensive procedures if decay and infection reaches the root.

Myth: Cavities are more likely to be in a visible place.

Most of the time, cavities show up between your teeth because those spots are more difficult to reach with a toothbrush. Cavities are found wherever there is food and debris buildup, such as between crooked teeth. It is important to floss so you reach those spots that are hard to clean. Some mouthwashes also can provide extra protection against cavities.

Myth: Cavities in baby teeth are harmless.

It is important to keep your children’s baby teeth healthy because they still can cause pain. Since permanent teeth eventually erupt into the spaces created by the baby teeth once they fall out, you should teach your children to take care of their teeth to minimize the risks for bigger problems with their oral health in the future. Premature loss or removal of baby teeth can cause all sorts of problems, such as misalignment of the permanent teeth. 

We’ll leave you with two final facts about cavities that you might find interesting:

      It isn’t just a modern diet that causes cavities. Cavemen had toothaches caused by them.

      Two major causes of death going all the way back to early man were child birth and tooth pain.

 Now that you know a bit more about the facts and myths related to cavities, remember that we are here to help you keep your teeth healthy. Call today if you need to schedule an appointment.