There is a lot of mystery to cavities. People may be scared of the dentist because they don’t fully understand what causes cavities and how to prevent them. This list attempts to debunk three common myths about cavities.
It is not sugar that causes cavities per se, but the acid produced by bacterial growth in the mouth that leads to tooth decay. This acid can come from any carbohydrate, including fruit, bread, grains, potatoes, rice, and other starchy foods. Similarly, it is not the amount of carbs consumed, but rather, the length of time the bacteria sits in the mouth. Proper teeth cleaning will greatly reduce the risk of cavities. However, if someone eats potato chips late at night and waits a day to brush their teeth, the bacteria has had plenty of time to metabolize the carbs, thereby producing the acids that cause cavities.
Children may be more likely to consume sugary foods or skip their nightly teeth cleaning, but they are not any more prone to cavities than adults are. According to WebMD, the last 20 years have seen a decline in cavities because of added fluoride in tap water and toothpaste. This further proves that teeth cleaning is essential to healthy teeth. In fact, fluoride is especially important to strengthening tooth enamel. The fluoride ion binds with the structure of the tooth, strengthening the enamel. Strong tooth enamel protects against the acids that break down teeth, which helps prevent tooth decay.
Because cavities happen gradually, many believe that cavities will continue to grow after a filling is in place. This is a myth. A filling will stop a cavity from growing. In fact, unless there is a fracture in the tooth, the filling will also prevent that area from growing another cavity.