As the National Institutes of Health pointed out, cavities occur when your teeth are exposed to acid - like those found in sugary soft drinks and starch-rich foods - which causes the enamel to break down. In the U.S. alone, according to NIH statistics, 92 percent of adults between ages 20 and 64 have had at least one cavity repaired. Yet as important as proper brushing and flossing are to preventing cavities, improper information can be as harmful as all the soda in the world. Here are five of the biggest cavity myths debunked:
"Cavities affect nearly 92% of all American adults ages 20 to 64."
A 2012 survey by the American Dental Association found that 81 percent of American adults think too much sugar causes everyone's cavities. While cookies, soda pop, chocolate and other sugary treats certainly are to blame, Ft. Meyers Pediatric Dentistry explained that carbohydrates are another major cause. Like sugar, carbs can increase the acidity in your mouth, which leads to tooth decay. Carbs are plentiful in most people's diets and include items like certain fruits and vegetables, potatoes, bread and rice.
While the Mayo Clinic explained that sensitivity can be an early indicator of cavity formation, the two conditions aren't always linked. According to Academy of General Dentistry, 40 million Americans have sensitive teeth, and only a portion of those people have cavities. There are several other issues and ailments that can cause sensitivity. That list includes normal sensitivity following dental treatment, grinding teeth at night, gum recession and hard toothbrushes, which can wear down the protective enamel.
As Advantage Dental Services explained, babies aren't born with any of the 23 bacterial strains that cause cavities. So, then, how does a child come into contact with these nasty cavity-causing microbes? Through their parents, specifically the mother. A number of studies, including a 2004 one that centered on Brazilian kids, found that mothers transmit the bacteria through breast milk and bond-building displays of affection like kissing and nuzzling. This process, called vertical transmission, can be mitigated if parents maintain proper oral care themselves.
If anything, frequent snacking is one way one to help prevent cavities, as Humana explained. That's because eating continually throughout the day causes your body to create more saliva, which is full of minerals like phosphate and calcium. These components can actually strengthen your enamel and thus prevent cavities in the first place. As The Nest explained, you just want to make sure you're eating the right food to increase saliva production. That means snacking on items like grapefruit, cranberries, limes and other sour fruits.
As Dr. Sue Walker, DDS, explained on her personal blog, replacement depends entirely on the kind of filling you have. Fillings made with porcelain, which is one of the more common materials, must be changed out once every 10 years. Meanwhile, amalgam or composite fillings can actually last an entire lifetime, barring any physical damage or other underlying conditions. If you suspect your filling is damaged or it's causing any pain or sensitivity, it's important to speak with your dentist immediately as replacement might be necessary.