Dental Myths Debunked

MYTH: Root Canals Hurt
According to the American Association of Endodontists, the perception of root canals being painful began decades ago when root canal treatments were painful. Today, with modern technology and better anesthetics, root canal treatments are no more painful than having a filling. Knowing what to expect while having a root canal can help ease a lot of anxiety.

MYTH: Root Canals Require a lot of Visits to the Dentist

With today’s cutting edge technology, most root canals can be performed in one to two office visits.

MYTH: Crowns Cause Teeth to Need Root Canals
Many people believe that having a crown on a tooth will eventually lead to the necessity of having a root canal. Crowns do not cause the need for root canal therapy. If a crowned tooth does require a root canal, it could be that the tooth has abscessed or that decay has gotten underneath the crown and reached the pulp of the tooth.

MYTH: Root Canals Cause Illness
There is no evidence to support that root canals cause illness, however, there is evidence to support the fact that people who have had root canals were no more at risk to develop illness than people who have never had root canals.

MYTH: Root Canals Involve Removing the Roots of the Tooth
When the dentist or endodontist (root canal specialist) performs a root canal treatment, they remove the pulp from inside of the tooth. The roots of the tooth are not removed.

MYTH: Pregnant Women Can’t Have Root Canals
Pregnant women can and do have root canals. Having a root canal does require a small x-ray, however, the radiation exposure is very minimal and the x-ray is aimed at the mouth and not the abdomen area. Your dentist should also use a lead apron to cover your belly. The anesthetics that dentists use are also safe for pregnant women. Be sure to let your dentist know beforehand if you are pregnant.

MYTH: Even With A Root Canal, The Tooth Will Come Out Eventually
If you have your tooth properly restored, maintain good oral hygiene and visit your dentist for regular check ups, your natural tooth could last for the rest of your life.

MYTH: If the Tooth Doesn’t Hurt, There Is No Need for a Root Canal
While a throbbing toothache usually results in the need for root canal treatment, many times a tooth can require root canal treatment when there is no pain present. Your dentist and / or endodontist are specially trained to test a tooth to see if the pulp has been infected or damaged. If this is the case, a root canal would be necessary to save the tooth.

MYTH: Pulling the Tooth is Better than Getting a Root Canal
Keeping your natural teeth for as long as possible is very important for proper eating and chewing functions. There are several options available for missing teeth, such as dentures, partial dentures,dental implants and fixed dental bridges, however, these alternatives can be much more expensive than saving your tooth with a root canal treatment.

MYTH: After Having a Root Canal, My Tooth is Completely Restored
After having a root canal, it is extremely important to make a follow up appointment with your dentist to have the tooth permanently restored. After the pulp of the tooth has been removed, the tooth can become very dry and brittle. This can make the tooth more susceptible to breaking while you are eating or chewing. Having a permanent restoration placed will help protect your tooth from fracturing.

MYTH: I brush a lot, so I don’t need to floss.
If only that were true! Brushing cleans only 60% of the tooth, and flossing the remainder 40%. This 40% is where most dental problems start! Bacteria left untouched in these areas turns to plaque, and will eventually cause decay and gum disease.

MYTH: My baby’s teeth aren’t that important because they are going to fall out anyway!
Yes, primary teeth do eventually fall out, but they still need proper care. Premature loss of even a single baby tooth can cause teeth to shift and bring about life-long bite problems. Primary or baby teeth are important in maintaining space for permanent teeth as the jaw grows, so therefore, they shouldn’t be neglected!

MYTH: Children don’t need to have check-ups when they’re young.
Your child’s first appointment should be scheduled with the dentist at age 1. This important first step in a lifetime of proper dental hygiene is a visual inspection only. Regular cleanings with the hygiene team usually commence around age 2 1/2 to 3 years of age, once the child has had their full complement of primary teeth erupt.

MYTH: Dental cleanings aren’t required during pregnancy.
It is critical to maintain a proper oral health regimen, even while expecting. Conditions may arise with your oral situation while expecting that your dentist can identify early, and intervene.

MYTH: Is it true I will lose a tooth for every child that I have?
This myth perpetuates that the unborn child will suck the calcium out of the mother’s teeth, and she will lose a tooth. As a matter of fact, calcium is absorbed from the mother’s bones and not her teeth. Because of this, the mother requires a sufficient supply of calcium. With a proper diet, daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental examinations, the mother does not have to worry about this myth.

MYTH: A hard toothbrush is best to clean your teeth
A hard toothbrush may, in fact, further damage teeth and gums, and abrade the neck area of the tooth and cause extreme sensitivity. Your dental hygienist can suggest the ideal toothbrush for your oral needs.

MYTH: Over-the-counter whitening products, such as Crest-White Strips, work just as well as the professional whitening systems offered by your dentist
These products work extremely well and are perfectly safe. But they do not have the lasting power of a professional regimen, like Venus White. Crest-White Strips must be re-applied every 6 months to maintain your degree of whiteness, as the teeth will begin to relapse back to their original color. With professional systems like Venus White, the relapse is avoided and your teeth stay white.

MYTH: My teeth don’t hurt, so they must be healthy
This may in fact be a sign that teeth are actually dead, and NOT healthy. Regular 6-month check-ups and cleanings with your dentist are encouraged to ensure teeth stay vital and healthy. Dead teeth, although not initially hurting, may eventually lead to abscesses and potentially serious medical complications.

MYTH: Putting an aspirin beside a sore tooth will help to ease the pain
Aspirin is actually an acid, and should be swallowed to actually do any pain relief. When placed beside a tooth, the aspirin will burn the soft gum tissues around the tooth, and cause further problems. For pain relief, Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) are recommended over aspirin, as aspirin may cause stomach upset, and encourage prolonged bleeding in higher dosages.

MYTH: Bad breath comes only from the stomach
A common misconception is that bad breath arises from the stomach. While an extremely small percentage of bad breath problems may be due to stomach and digestive problems, the majority of bad breath arises from the back of the mouth and tonsil area. Here, bacteria feed on mucus and food particles creating odorous sulphur compounds. The tongue also may harbor bacteria to contribute to malodor, and in some individuals may actually have to be scraped on a regular basis to clean it and decrease odor.

MYTH: Mouthwashes decrease bad breath and staining
People believe mouthwashes can treat bad breath. Unfortunately, most conventional mouthwashes only temporarily mask bad breath and are relatively useless at treating bad breath. In fact, many mouthwashes can actually contribute to bad breath by drying out the mouth and in the process of eliminating natural bacteria present, actually encourage non-local bacteria to grow and cause further staining and breath problems.

MYTH: I still have my wisdom teeth – it’s not necessary to have them removed
Removal of wisdom teeth is suggested if the wisdom teeth are compromised through decay, periodontal complications, abscesses, cysts, space concerns, and TMJ concerns. If these teeth are fully erupted or grown in and are causing no problems, there would be no indication to remove them. A Panorex (full upper and lower jaw X-ray) should be reviewed every 5 years. If wisdom teeth are still present, but impacted, this will ensure that no cysts or abscesses are developing asymptomatically.

MYTH: When I have a tooth pulled, it’s okay to leave the space unfilled
Extractions, although necessary and initially a quick easy fix to a dental problem, may in fact contribute to further space problems later on in life. Teeth on either side of an extracted tooth will begin to collapse into the empty space, and the tooth above or below the tooth extracted will begin to over-erupt (“get long in the tooth”). It is important to discuss with your dentist the implications of tooth removal, and the long-term consequences of extractions, and the options as how to fill in such a space through the use of bridges, removable prosthesis, or implants if indicated.

MYTH: If I get a root canal, I don’t have to get the tooth crowned
Crowns or caps are recommended for teeth that have had a root canal procedure, since the teeth now lack a blood and nerve supply. A crown will protect the root-canaled tooth and preserve its integrity for many years to come.

Phone: (781) 598-3700
Fax: (781) 598-3730
142A Canal St.
Salem, MA 01970