Cavity Facts and Myths

Dr.Alan Wishneff Boca Raton Florida Dentist Dr. Alan Wishneff D.D.S.
Restorative Dentistry / Oral Health
December 25, 2015

Cavities are not something anyone achieves to get. And exactly how one gets a cavity can be confusing for some. There is a lot of different information out there on the causes, prevention and treatment of cavities. The following are some ideas and whether they are fact or fiction.

1. Sugar is the prime cause of cavities – Myth almost fact.

Acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth are the main cause of cavities. The bacteria that makes acid, AcucarCubosDSC6096comes from foods that contain carbohydrates and sugar is a carb. Acids start to eat into the teeth making holes in the enamel. Many times these places are not reachable while brushing with a toothbrush. The longer bacteria stay on the teeth, the further it eats away at the teeth.

The important thing to learn is that it is not about the amount of carbs you eat but the length of time your teeth are exposed to the carbs that matters most. If you eat a lot of carbs at lunch, that is considered one big exposer and not as bad. However, if you spend the day sipping sugary drinks, the exposure to the acids is continuous and more harmful to the teeth.

2. Exposure to acidic foods, like lemons, causes tooth decay – Fact

Acidic foods, including citrus juices or soft drinks, don’t cause cavities, but they can put the enamel in danger. Acids wear down enamel, weakening the tooth structure. This can expose the underlying dentin and allow teeth to be more prone to decay.\

3. Kids are more likely to get cavities than adults – Myth

Today children have the advantage of sealants, fluorinated water and preventive care to help with their dental care and help prevent cavities. Recently there has been an increase of cavities being found in senior citizens. Some of their medications dry out their mouth, decreasing saliva production that helps in fighting tooth decay. Cavities can be found in people of all ages.

4.  Aspirin placed next to a tooth will help a toothache – Myth

Taking an aspirin can help reduce toothache pain.  However, aspirin are acidic and placing it next to the tooth can burn the gum tissue and cause an abscess.

5. Fillings will eventually need to be replaced – Myth

The only time a composite filling will need to be replaced is when it breaks down, a cavity forms around the filling or the tooth fractures. If these don’t occur then the filling can last a lifetime. To get the longest life out of the filling make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss and use mouth rinse.

6. If you have a cavity, you will know it – Myth

This is one of the biggest myths. There are no symptoms for mild tooth decay. The pain that we think is caused by cavities, is actually the pain caused by the tooth decay that is most advanced. The more advanced the tooth decay is the more damage it does to the nerves in the tooth. If the tooth decay is allowed to continue it can lead to more expensive procedures like a root canal.

Once a cavity starts, it can’t repair itself. It will grow until it gets to a point where you can’t clean it out anymore.

7. Once a tooth is treated, decaying will stop – Fact

When the cavity in the tooth is filled and you maintain proper dental health, you generally won’t get decay in the same spot. You still have to keep an eye on the tooth though. Sometimes, with time, a filling can begin to break down and pull away from the tooth. It is hard to clean out, so bacteria may get in there and decay again.

8. Cavities are more likely between teeth – Fact

Places that bacteria can hide and areas you can’t reach with a toothbrush are susceptible to decay. There are deep grooves on the back of the front teeth that are good places for decay to take hold. Gap and spaces between teeth are hard to reach and allow bacteria to grow. If you have trouble flossing, try using mouth rinse with fluoride to help keep the areas between teeth clean.

9. Gaps in teeth encourage cavities – Fact

Gaps between teeth that are hard to clean are likely to develop tooth decay. The bigger the gap the easier they are to clean, so not all gaps are bad.

10. Chips and cracks in teeth lead to decay – Fact

Again, cracks or chips in a tooth are places bacteria like to hide and grow. More people are showing signs of cracked teeth because more people are grinding their teeth. People grind their teeth because they are more stressed and worried about things in their life.

11. Sensitivity in teeth means there is decay – Myth

Tooth sensitivity could just mean that you have hypersensitive teeth. Or it could mean that your gums have started to recede and this exposes the root to elements in the mouth. You might also have a cracked or broken tooth that needs to be looked at.

12. Cavities are the only reason for root canals – Myth

Root canals are only needed if the nerve inside the tooth is damaged. If cavities are left untreated they can eventually lead to nerve damage.

13. Clenching and grinding can lead to cavities –Fact

The most destructive things you can be doing to your teeth are grinding and clenching them together. When you chew normally, teeth only touch for mere milliseconds, suffering little stress. When you clench or grind the teeth, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on the teeth for an extended amount of time. This strain can lead to cracks or fractures in the teeth. And this can lead to other problems like cavities.

14. You don’t need to worry about cavities in baby teeth – Myth

Baby teeth are the place holders for the permanent teeth. When cavities in baby teeth are left untreated, it can lead to the development of other serious problems like serious pain and abscesses. Infections can spread to other areas of the body. Just because baby teeth will eventually fall out, doesn’t mean they should be neglected. You want the healthiest area for the permanent teeth.

15. Brushing, flossing and rinsing is the best way to prevent cavities – Fact

This is the truest fact out there. Prevention is the key to healthy teeth. Removal of bacteria from teeth is essential. Make sure to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss and rinse daily. If you remove bacteria daily from every area of the teeth, then cavities won’t have a chance to set in.

For more information about this topic or any other dental topic, contact Dr.Wishneff  at [email protected]or call (561) 488-3111Dr. Alan Wishneff is a Boca Raton Dentist dedicated to bringing patients state-of-the-art dental care. As a cosmetic, family and restorative dentist, he helps patients enjoy a natural and healthy smile. He is trained in cosmetic dentistry, including porcelain veneers; advanced cosmetic bonding techniques; oral surgery; medical emergency procedures; advanced crown and bridge; advanced TMJ; implant dentistry; endodontics-root canals: utilization of most advanced dental materials. Dr, Wishneff and staff are dedicated to providing great smiles in Boca Raton for more than 30 years. After more than two decades of practicing dentistry in Boca Raton, Dr. Wishneff is more committed than ever to this community.

Image: By CostaPPPR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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