At our Boulder, CO dentistry, Dr. Miller wants all of his patients to have the information they need to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. It’s easy to make assumptions about your oral health based on things you hear or remember from your childhood. However, science’s understanding about what causes cavities and the effect poor oral health has on the body has come a long way over the years. Keeping up on this knowledge is an important part of helping to maintain and improve your oral health so you can keep smiling brightly for years to come.
To help keep you up-to-date about the best practices for protecting your teeth and gums, here are a few common misconceptions many patients have about their oral health.
Sugar Causes Cavities
One of the most common perceptions people have about their oral health is that eating sugar will rot their teeth. We’ve heard this one since childhood, so it must be true. In actually, however, that statement isn’t entirely accurate.
Cavities are caused by plaque, a sticky biofilm that grows on the surface of our teeth. Plaque uses the foods and beverages we consume to produce acids that slowly erode away at our tooth enamel. Over time, this erosion will lead to the development of cavities, and even cause the type of gum inflammation that allows gingivitis – an early stage of gum disease – to develop.
So where does sugar enter the equation?
Well, artificial sugar – the kind found in sodas and candy – happens to be plaque’s favorite source of fuel. Diets that are high in added sugars provide plaque with plenty of fuel to produce enough acid that cavities become more likely to develop.
So while you’re at a higher risk of developing cavities if you eat a lot of sugar, it’s not entirely accurate to say that sugar causes cavities. Plaque causes, and you can take step to reduce plaque buildup in the mouth by practicing quality oral hygiene at home – which leads to our next misconception…
You Don’t Need to Floss
When it comes to practicing the best habits for protecting the long-term health of their teeth and gums, most patients often stick to the brushing while skimping on the flossing.
Most patients who don’t floss will point to a recent Associated Press study that stated flossing had no discernable effect on improving or maintaining an individual’s oral health. However, what many people overlook is that the study’s findings didn’t prove that flossing didn’t help improve an individual’s oral health, only that it could find no way of measuring that improvement.
Let’s take a look at the case for flossing. Flossing helps to remove food particles and plaque from areas of your mouth a toothbrush cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line. If you don’t think it’s important to these areas clean, consider that the most common place for cavities to develop is actually between our teeth.
Even if you’re not entirely convinced, consider that by spending just 1 minute a day flossing you can provide your teeth with an additional layer of protection against cavities and gum disease. With that low level of commitment, it just doesn’t make sense not to floss.
No Cavities Means a Healthy Mouth
While a checkup that doesn’t find a cavity is always great news, the lack of tooth decay doesn’t always signal a healthy mouth.
Gingivitis – an early stage of gum disease – can still develop in a mouth without cavities. Gum inflammation can be caused by plaque buildup, brushing too hard, poor nutrition, diabetes, stress, smoking, medications, or simply from genetics. In fact, 3 out of 4 adults in the U.S. have gum disease, but only roughly 3 percent get treatment.
Since gum disease is largely painless, you may have gingivitis without even realizing you have a problem. If your gums bleed easily after brushing or flossing; appear red, swollen, or inflamed; or are tender to the touch, you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller to have the health of your gums assessed.
Sugar-Free Soda is Better for Our Teeth
As we already covered, sugar consumption doesn’t directly lead to the development of cavities. But what you may be surprised to learn is that drinking sugar-free soda may actually be worse for your oral health.
It’s not just the sugar in soda that leads to tooth decay. Carbonated beverages are high in acid that also works to destroy tooth enamel. Acids can do even more damage to tooth enamel than sugar. Even more troubling, the artificial sweeteners used in sugar-free sodas have an even greater effect on enamel when compared to real sugar.
Combine the impact carbonated acid and artificial sweeteners have on the health of our teeth and what you find is that these types of drinks are even worse for our oral health.
At Valmont Dental Boulder, We Can Help
Protecting your oral health becomes a lot easier when you have the assistance of an experienced family dentist like Dr. Miller. By scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our team at Valmont Dental Boulder, you can better protect your teeth and gums from the effects of tooth decay and gum disease. Contact our office today to schedule your next dental exam and cleaning with one of the best dentists in Boulder, CO.