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Three Myths Many People Believe About Their Teeth

family dentistIs there any option for lost teeth other than dentures? There are many questions people have about teeth — and the truth isn’t always crystal clear. Everyone has teeth, so there is a commonality of experience that tends to breed believable-seeming myths.

In the Middle Ages 500 years ago, it would have been common to hear that toothaches were the result of a “tooth worm,” and cures would have ranged from the harmless (placing garlic cloves in your ear) to the incredibly painful and pointless (skin blistering, using acid to kill the dental nerve).

Today, we’re a little more educated — but some dental myths are surprisingly persistent. Here are three rumors you may have heard, as well as the truth behind them.

1. People Lose Their Teeth Because of Cavities
This is partially true, and partially myth. Although people can lose teeth because of cavities, it’s hardly the only reason — and believing that teeth are lost through cavities alone can lead to poor choices. 178 million people in the U.S. have at least one lost permanent tooth, and one common issue is gum disease. Present in about 47% of the population, if left untreated, it eventually leads to irreparable bone loss and tooth loss. Many people are also unaware that tooth loss can be caused by a reaction to medication. Talk to a doctor right away if your prescription causes your teeth to feel loose.

2. Dentures are the Only Replacement for Lost Teeth
Although dentures are, of course, a popular option for replacing missing teeth, they are far from the only choice available. Cosmetic dental implants are another permanent option. Implants are basically small, titanium rods anchored into the jawbone, and topped with a false tooth. Implants are, in fact, often recommended by family dentists before dentures are, because they help prevent the jawbone from being reabsorbed, and they mimic the look and feel of real teeth. Dental implant costs are often what keep people from choosing them — they are typically $2,000 to $4,000 per tooth.

3. Brushing Too Hard is Bad for Your Gums
It might seem logical — your gums are bleeding when you brush them or floss them, so maybe you’ve just been brushing them too often, or too hard. In reality, though, gums tend to bleed when they’ve become irritated and inflamed by gum disease, according to family dentists. Be gentle when you brush and floss, but don’t stop. And if your gums are bleeding with you brush them, that might be a sign that you haven’t been brushing frequently enough. Keep in mind that bacteria can harbor in strange places, including your toothbrush, so make sure to wash it with hot water. If your gums don’t get better, though, you should consult a general dentist to see whether more serious problems might be brewing under the surface.

What issues would you discuss with your family dentist? Let us know in the comments.