5 Common Myths About Teeth Exposed

Here’s the real deal when it comes to urban legends concerning your teeth.

Behind most myths is an aspect of truth, and that's no different for these long held beliefs about teeth and dental care. Here are the facts (and fiction) of five common myths about teeth told over the years.

1.  Brush Your Teeth Every Time You Eat

While it certainly makes sense to brush regularly to remove food particles and plaque, doing so immediately after every meal could cause unintended damage to your tooth enamel. Saliva has properties to help digest your food and briefly softens tooth enamel when you eat. By brushing immediately after meals, you risk brushing away your protective enamel. Try waiting at least 30 – 60 minutes after eating to brush for the most benefit from your saliva and brushing.

2.  Teeth Whitening Weakens Teeth

The teeth bleaching kits that you purchase at your local pharmacy to whiten staining caused by things like coffee or tea use hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide to oxidize the surface of tooth enamel. While over the counter whitening kits use 3 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, the bleaching solutions used in dental practices are between 15 and 38 percent. While there is evidence that frequent treatments can erode tooth enamel, increase tooth sensitivity, and cause teeth to appear translucent, there is no indication that the strength of the tooth is affected, or more likely to break.

3.  Large Shifts in Temperature will Crack Teeth

There is some truth that drastic changes in temperature can produce cracks in teeth, however, don't expect your teeth to break in half while enjoying a scoop of ice cream with a hot cup of coffee. It's common for temperature changes to produce small cracks in the enamel, which you might notice on occasion. These hairline cracks are called craze lines and are usually superficial and harmless. Regular checkups with your dentist will reveal any real concerns that need to be addressed before they worsen.

4.  Cola can Dissolve Teeth Overnight

While no one is arguing that soda is good for your health, studies show that soft drinks don't possess the acidity to dissolve teeth overnight, or even in a few days. Sodas contain small amounts of phosphoric, citric, and carbonic acid, however this is insufficient to completely dissolve teeth. In the case of citric acid, orange juice contains substantially more citric acid and as much sugar as Coca-Cola. Early claims of soda's dissolving powers also ignored the impact of saliva and the fact that people don't generally hold soda in their mouths for long periods.

Soft drinks however can reduce the pH of saliva and briefly soften tooth enamel, allowing sugar to decay teeth. Studies show that sports and energy drinks are actually more acidic and corrosive to teeth, and are generally consumed when users are dehydrated, which interferes with saliva's ability to protect tooth enamel.

5.  George Washington Had Wooden Dentures

One popular urban legend from American history concerning teeth is that the first president of the United States, George Washington, had wooden teeth. This myth is false, and Washington actually used innovative dental treatments for that time period.

George Washington experienced issues with his teeth from a young age, with tooth loss beginning in his twenties. By the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Washington consulted with French naval surgeon and tooth implant innovator, Jean Pierre Le Moyer. Records show that Washington purchased teeth from slaves he owned to either implant, or be placed in dentures.

When he became president in 1789, Washington only had one tooth remaining, so he employed a man that many regard as the father of modern dentistry, John Greenwood to produce several prostheses including dentures made of gold, metal, and hippopotamus ivory. The dentures had plates connected by golden springs and were uncomfortable to wear. Washington struggled to keep his mouth closed and limited his speaking engagements as a result.

When it comes to getting accurate information about your dental care, talk to your dental health professional. It's no myth that the Summit OMS provides quality care for patients needing oral surgery. Call us today to set up your appointment.


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