Myths can be stubborn creatures. While some myths may not be harmful, misconceptions about our health can be a different matter.

See if any of these persistent myths could be affecting your oral health or general wellbeing.  

1. Have a baby, lose a tooth

It's true that a woman's oral health is at greater risk during pregnancy, as hormonal changes can make tooth decay, infections, and gum disease more likely. [2]

But that doesn't mean you're fated to lose a tooth! If you maintain a good oral care routine, follow a healthy diet, and keep up with your routine dental appointments, you can lessen your risk of many different dental issues.

2. Only sugar causes tooth decay

Eating too much sugar (especially processed sugar) does increase your risk of tooth decay. [1] As the sugary food is broken down, it feeds the plaque-creating bacteria in your mouth and worsens the acids that can wear away the surface of your teeth.

But even if you don't have a lot of sugar in your diet, you'll still be at risk of cavities if you don't brush and floss correctly. Starchy foods also contain carbohydrates that can cause plaque to form. [4]

3. Diet drinks are better for you

It's not just the sugar in soft drinks that damages your teeth - it's also the acidity. Over time, sugar-free fizzy drinks can cause just as much wear to the enamel, potentially leading to heightened sensitivity, cavities, or even tooth loss.

The natural sugars in some fruit juices can be just as damaging. For a healthy and refreshing alternative to soft drinks, nothing beats water.

4. Fluoridated water isn't good for you

Despite the overwhelming evidence that adding fluoride to drinking water reduces tooth decay in populations at no cost to health, scepticism about the risk-benefit ratio still persists.

In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has undertaken multiple systematic reviews and concluded that: "fluoridation of drinking water is an effective way to ensure people across the community are exposed to fluoride and can benefit from its preventative role in tooth decay, regardless of age, gender or socioeconomic status." [5]

5. White teeth are healthy teeth

Although you might like the look of white teeth, they aren’t always a fool-proof sign of dental health! Natural teeth colour varies in lightness, especially as we age. Just because your teeth are white doesn't mean you can avoid visiting the dentist. You may still have cavities, infections or other oral health problems that need to be treated sooner rather than later. [3]

6. Whitening damages your teeth

Modern teeth whitening techniques are typically considered safe – as long as you have your teeth whitened professionally at a dental clinic, or you follow your dentist's instructions when using a home whitening kit that’s appropriate for you.

However, if you use a whitening product when you shouldn’t, or you don't follow instructions properly, you can risk damaging the enamel surface of your teeth and causing harm to your oral health.

7. Braces are just for kids

Although it’s common for children and teens to receive orthodontic treatment, more and more adults are getting in on the orthodontic action.

The days of train-track braces are long gone. Advances in clear braces now offer a more discreet option for adults who weren’t able to address their orthodontic issues when they were younger. Systems such as Invisalign give you the ability to remove the aligners for eating, speaking or special occasions.

Sources

Australian Dental Association.

[1] FAQ. [online] [Accessed 18 July 2014]. Available from: www.ada.org.au

[2] Pregnancy. [online] [Accessed 18 July 2014]. Available from: www.ada.org.au

[3] Teeth Whitening: getting the best result for your smile. [online] [Accessed Jan 2017] Available from: www.ada.org.au

[4] British Dental Association. Diet. [online] [Accessed 18 July 2014] Available from: www.dentalhealth.org

[5] National Health and Medical Research Council. Health effects of water fluoridation [Online] 2016 [Last updated Oct 2016, accessed Jan 2017] Available from: www.nhmrc.gov.au