Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
July 16, 2018
Don’t believe everything you hear. Many “truths” you accept as dogma may turn out to be “myths”.
Some truths are accidental misstatements. Others are outright lies. Sometimes, truths that we believed to be true in the past have been scientifically proven to be untrue today. And, so it is with dentistry.
Many myths in dentistry exist – untruths that have been repeated for years or even decades. I hear these “statements of fact” from my patients. I try to explain the errors of these myths, but some myths die hard.
Let’s put some of them to rest and move on. Here are six dental myths that I have heard most frequently from my patients.
1. Dental plaque must always be removed completely
Dental plaque is healthy until it’s not.
Dental plaque starts off as a healthy biofilm around the tooth at the gum line. It is made up of as many as 700 different microbes that are in a state of balance. These microbes maintain a stable acid level near the tooth, destroy invading pathogenic bacteria, and transfer minerals from the saliva into the surface of the tooth root.
However, an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut can create a compromised immune system and an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. Once these changes occur, lack of proper nutrients and ingestion of harmful elements (like toxic substances, inflammatory foods, and simple sugars) will allow bad bacteria in this unhealthy dental plaque to cause tooth decay and periodontal diseases.
2. Toothpaste is necessary to clean teeth
Toothpaste may taste good and may make it easier to remove some stains, but it is not necessary to remove harmful dental plaque. Brushing correctly with filtered water will be sufficient to remove the soft, unhealthy bacteria and food particles around the tooth.
3. Brushing & Flossing will prevent tooth decay and gum disease
A healthy gut, a nutrient-dense diet, and the removal of toxic elements from the body are important factors in the development of a strong immune system. A strong immune system is necessary for healthy teeth and healthy gums. If a person brushes and flosses correctly but eats foods and lives a lifestyle that continue to harm the immune system, then tooth decay and gum disease may continue to be a problem.
4. Fluoride will prevent tooth decay
Despite the widescale availability of fluoride in water or toothpaste, there is evidence that dental decay levels have increased as people get older. In addition, this peer-reviewed paper shows that dental decay is a diet-mediated disease. Medical research states that free sugars are the primary factor in the creation of dental decay. Sugar feeds acid-producing bacteria, and these acids will create demineralization of the tooth surface. The greater amount of simple sugars ingested; the more acid produced; and the more tooth decay created. The World Health Organization noted that a diet composed of 10% sugar would induce high dental decay rates despite fluoride use in drinking water and toothpaste.
5. Some people just have “soft teeth”
In rare situations, trauma and developmental problems could compromise the strength of the enamel on a developing tooth in the jaw. Other than the rare developmental problem of tooth enamel, teeth are not soft. Teeth decay when simple sugars feed certain species of bacteria that produce excess acid, which in turn causes tooth decay.
6. Antimicrobial mouthwash should be used everyday
Daily use of an antimicrobial mouthwash will kill bad bacteria as well as beneficial bacteria in the mouth. When good bacteria are killed, the balance of bacteria is compromised.
If dental plaque were completely destroyed, the beneficial effects of a healthy biofilm would no longer exist around the gum-tooth margin. The ultimate health of the gum and tooth surface could be compromised.
Another consequence of killing beneficial bacteria would be the alteration of the production of nitric oxide. A decrease in specific healthy bacteria will decrease the independent conversion of natural nitrates to nitrites in the saliva. Preventing this biological pathway can decrease the eventual amount of nitric oxide created in the body. Reduced nitric oxide increases blood pressure, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, decreases brain health and nerve transmission, and increases the development of gum disease.
My Closing Comment
Everyone should question anything that is promoted as a dogmatic fact. Does that fact make sense to you? Look at current research. Who made the comment? Why was it said? Who would benefit the most if you believed the statement to be true? Then, make up your mind about believing what you hear.