Monday, September 11, 2017

Myths and realities through an oral health window - 3

Did you know that not following the recommended

Did you know that not following the recommended two-minute brushing twice daily will make the gums red, swollen and bleed easily. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By Dr Emeria Mugonzibwa

An oral health myth is a collectively held oral health information and/or belief that have no basis in fact.

This is the third of the oral health myths series and their related realities/facts.

Myth 1: Women lose a tooth for each child they have given birth to.

Fact: More of an ‘old wives tale’ than a myth, this is untrue. Hormonal changes while pregnant can exaggerate bacteria in the mouth that can cause bleeding gums or gingivitis. Tooth loss is unlikely with a thorough and regular cleaning regimen.

Myth 2: Dental treatment should be avoided during pregnancy

Fact: A dental check-up is recommended during pregnancy for regular dental check-up, cleaning and fillings. Local anesthetics and X-rays are okay although they are to be done only when necessary. The dentist should be informed of the pregnancy before any procedure since some dental treatments are to be avoided entirely during pregnancy – amalgam removal and taking of antibiotics.

Myth 3: Brushing before the dental appointment will make the dentist not notice that regular brushing is not done since the last dental visit.

Fact: Not following the recommended two-minute brushing twice daily will make the gums red, swollen and bleed easily, making it obvious to the dentist. There’s no way the dentist will not know that the patient is not brushing regularly.

Myth 4: Fluoride is an artificial substance added to toothpaste and water.

Fact: Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that helps protect teeth from decay by strengthening the teeth layers.

Myth 5:A child not having a dental cavity, guarantees a child not getting dental cavities as an adult.

Fact: While past experience is an indicator for future dental cavities, many things can change one’s dental cavities risk such as a dry mouth because of medication or a change in diet

Myth 6: It is okay to drink soda as long as it is diet soda because diet soda does not contain sugar

Fact: Diet soda is highly acidic and can eat into the surface of the tooth wall: enamel. After that has happened, the enamel is weaker and more at risk for cavities

Myth 7: Spit tobacco is safer for one’s health than smoking because it’s not inhaled and doesn’t cause lung cancer

Fact: Spit tobacco is a primary risk factor for oral cancer, for which the five-year relative survival rate is much lower than for breast or prostate cancer.

Myth 8: If Gums Bleed One Should Stop Flossing

Fact: No, bleeding gums are a sign that oral hygiene is lacking. Hence, brushing and flossing need to be performed more often and more effectively.

Bleeding gums are often the first sign of gum disease and if left undiagnosed and treated can develop to become periodontal disease, a more aggressive and damaging oral tissue disease.

So if gums are bleeding; pick up a toothbrush, floss and take time cleaning the teeth and gums. In addition, plan for dental cleaning, as a buildup of plaque and calculus (tartar) cause gums to become inflamed and bleed easily.