Did you hear the one about the flying spirit who traded cash for old molars? Myths abound when it comes to dentistry:
• Put an aspirin next to a tooth to treat a toothache:
Don't -- it will burn your gum and do nothing for your toothache.
• Use a hard bristle toothbrush to best remove plaque.
Don't -- the abrasiveness can damage your gum line.
• George Washington's wooden teeth were prone to termite infestation.
Don't -- believe it; while Washington was an early denture adopter, his false teeth were not made of wood, but merely stained metal and ivory that gave his smile a grainy appearance.
Here are the best of the dental tall tales:
Myth: Baby teeth all fall out eventually so there is no need for dental care for young children.
Fact: Baby, or primary teeth can decay, become infected and painful, if routine dental care isn't sought early on.
Baby teeth act as space maintainers allowing the permanent teeth to come into the mouth properly. Prematurely losing baby teeth (from decay) could cause teeth to drift and block out permanent teeth from growing in. A child's first dental visit should take place by age one. Your child's dentist should be monitoring and discussing with you, your youngster's diet, hygiene, and oral habits.
Myth: Natural fruit juices won't cause tooth decay like candy or soda will.
Fact: Westchester County, New York Pediatric dentists Dr. Jeffrey Ginsberg and Dr. Benjamin Dancygier advise on baby teeth and decay:
"Even 6-month-old infants can get decay, from going to sleep with a bottle or constant breast-feeding throughout the night," says Dr. Ginsberg.
"All juices contain sugar which can cause tooth decay. The only safe drink for children is water," says Dr. Dancygier.
Myth: It's best to wait until my child loses all his baby teeth before seeing the orthodontist.
Fact: Waiting until all the permanent teeth arrive can result in two irreversible consequences: the need to extract permanent teeth due to the inability to correct crowding and missing a growth spurt without which extractions or jaw surgery is necessary. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children see an orthodontist at age 7 for early detection of problems and to assure proper and timely planning for optimal care.
Myth: My child will grow out of it.
Fact: The majority of orthodontic problems do not-self correct.
Myth: The orthodontist will correct this problem with a retainer just worn at night.
Fact: Retainers are removable devices meant to retain, or hold teeth in place not designed to make active corrections. Tooth movement requires at least 20 hours of force applied daily over a period of time for teeth to safely reposition in a stable manner.
Myth: Wisdom teeth will cause other teeth to shift positions after orthodontics.
Fact: It's a natural assumption to think that wisdom teeth (which commonly erupt in late adolescence) can cause post orthodontic changes, but the real cause of shifting or relapse is a late adolescent growth spurt of the lower jaw for a patient not wearing retainers.
Myth: Once teeth are straightened, no other follow-up is needed.
Fact: Teeth shift over varying degrees over a lifetime. Retainers mitigate these changes and are as important a part of orthodontic treatment as is wearing braces. Your child needs to be an active participant throughout treatment and retention in order to ensure a successful outcome.
Myth: My regular dentist says she is qualified to put braces on my child.
Fact: General dentists have a broad spectrum of knowledge but are experienced only in certain focused areas. Specialists are best qualified to provide services like orthodontics and pediatric dentistry for your children.
Lastly, don't forget:
- the check is in the mail;
Bottomline: Don't let myths guide your child's dental care.