Since October is national Dental Hygiene Month, Dental Associates is helping dispel some common dental myths.
“We want everyone to know and understand important facts about oral care,” says Thomas Manos, D.D.S, M.S., president of Dental Associates. “We want to help educate the public so everyone can smile more.”
Dental Associates has three clinics in the Milwaukee area: 11711 W. Burleigh St., Wauwatosa; 6855 S. 27th St., Franklin; and 1135 S. Cesar Chavez Dr., Milwaukee.
Baby Teeth Don’t Matter
Nothing could be further from the truth. Baby teeth help children speak clearly, chew naturally and provide a path for permanent teeth to follow.
“A child who has a mouthful of cavities is going to be uncomfortable and have trouble concentrating in the classroom and that can impact their learning and performance in school,” adds Dr. Manos.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children have their first dental visit six months after their first tooth appears or around their first birthday. The first visit is typically a lap exam where the child sits comfortably in the parent’s lap for an oral inspection and to learn about the dentist.
You Can Feel a Cavity
Mild tooth decay doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. By the time a cavity gets to the point of pain, it usually requires a more invasive and expensive form of treatment, like a root canal or extraction. The intense pain typically comes from nerve damage.
“So many of the severe dental problems we see are preventable,” says Dr. Manos. “A small cavity is easy to take care of. When people let things go, it accelerates the problem and typically leads to other issues because bacteria and decay in the mouth can spread to other teeth.”
Flossing Isn’t Necessary
The place where most cavities form is between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Gentle flossing should be done at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria that turn into sticky plaque. The acids in plaque eat away at teeth and can cause toothaches, hot or cold sensitivity, pain when biting down and cavities.
“When you brush your teeth, you’re still missing 25% of the tooth surface,” says Dr. Manos. “That’s why flossing is so important. It dislodges the particles and plaque that cause decay.”
Bleeding Gums Are Normal
Just like a bleeding cut is a sign you’ve damaged your skin, bleeding gums are a sign your mouth tissue is inflamed. Bleeding gums are typically due to inadequate plaque removal along the gum line, which leads to gingivitis (inflamed gums).
To protect the gums, be gentle when you brush and floss. Use a toothbrush with soft nylon bristles and use gentle, circular motions to massage and clean the teeth and gums. A back-and-forth brushing motion can irritate and damage gums, making them sore and more likely to bleed or recede. When flossing, carefully slide the floss up and down, following the curve of each tooth instead of forcefully pushing floss between teeth.
Brush Immediately After Eating
Everyone should wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush. Many foods contain acid so you need to allow time for your saliva to mix with the acidity and start to neutralize and dilute it. If you brush right away, you’re simply coating your teeth with acid which can weaken the enamel on your teeth.
Acidic foods include regular and diet soda, energy drinks, orange juice and other fruit juices, tomatoes, citrus fruits, tart candies, foods with vinegar, wine and other items.
If you feel compelled to do something for your teeth after eating, have a small piece of cheese, swish water around your mouth or use a fluoride rinse to help neutralize acid. Chewing sugar-free gum also stimulates saliva flow, which neutralizes and dilutes the acid.
An Old Wives Tale…Aspirin Applied to the Tooth Cures Toothaches
Although this belief was most prevalent years ago, some dentists still hear about it from patients. Since aspirin is acidic, placing it beside the tooth can actually burn the gum tissue.
If you have a toothache, see your dentist. A toothache is your mouth’s way of asking for help. If you need immediate pain relief, swallow an aspirin or ibuprofen tablet.
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Founded in 1973, Dental Associates is Wisconsin’s largest family-owned dental group practice with 10 offices throughout the state and 800-plus staff members, including more than 100 doctors. With a focus on excellent care that is affordable, accessible and personalized, its clinics provide a complete offering of family dental services under one roof that range from pediatric dentistry to specialized dental services for older adults. Through the company's CarePlus Dental Plans, Dental Associates delivers affordable and high-quality dental health care to all Wisconsin residents. Dental Associates is accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). For more information regarding Dental Associates, visit www.dentalassociates.com.
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