Is chewing gum bad for you? It’s a question I hear frequently and just one example of the many myths that abound regarding oral health.
Let’s review some of the more common myths — starting with that chewing gum question:
- Chewing gum is bad for you. Although it can be (if it contains sugar, which can cause tooth decay), the movement of the upper and lower jaws during chewing is actually good exercise for the muscles of mastication. And chewing gum actually works to cleanse the mouth and stimulate salivary flow. Stick to sugar free chewing gum without artificial ingredients, if possible.
- A cleaning once a year is enough. In my experience as a periodontist, most of my patients over the last 26 years needed to have their teeth cleaned an average of 3-4 times a year. This is critically important to maintain good oral health.
- Dental X-ray exposure will cause damage and possibly cancer. In the last decade, with the introduction of digital X-rays, the risk to patients from exposure to dental X-rays is insignificant. Even the older technology (traditional X-rays with a higher exposure rate) has never been shown to have any associations to any harmful systemic diseases or illnesses. The American Dental Association has made recommendations on how often a full mouth series of X-rays should be taken. Routine X-rays are safe. However, if you are pregnant please let your dentist or periodontist know.
- Bleeding gums are normal. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease, or potentially a more serious systemic disease. We also know that gum disease is caused by “bad bacteria” or infection in the mouth. Bacteria and infection can potentially spread to other parts of the body if not controlled with better oral hygiene and treatment by a dentist or periodontist.
- Dental insurance covers everything. For those who have dental insurance, you already know that it usually covers only a portion of the total costs of care. The exception might be HMO plans. However, each plan is different and has its own rules. Check with your employer about the type of plan you have, and be prepared for the actual restrictions and benefits of your dental insurance.
There are many more oral care myths out there. Is there anything you’ve heard that’s made you wonder if it’s really true?
This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 at 11:56 am and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.