While our days of hating the dentist are over (now we happen to love that squeaky-clean feeling), some of those old wives’ tales and half-truths our parents used to scare us into good oral hygiene still remain in our heads. Some of it is harmless, but other dental myths could actually be leading you down the path to poor checkups with serious repercussions down the road. To debunk these long-standing myths we called in two top dentists—Dr. Irwin Smigel, president of the ASDA and creator of Supersmile, and Dr. Alokh Persha, dental expert and implant surgeon at Malo Smiles Advanced Dentistry. Scroll through for a dose of dental reality!
Reality: “Contrary to popular belief, sugar itself doesn’t cause cavities,” Dr. Smigel says. “Rather, it’s the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth when you eat sugar [that] causes cavities. These bacteria are triggered to produce acid whenever you eat anything with carbohydrates or sugar. The acid eats into your tooth, creating decay and therefore the cavity.” Dr. Smigel also added that it’s not the amount of sugar you eat, but how long your teeth are exposed to it that does the damage. “If you gulp down one soda for lunch and stop there, that’s not too bad. But if spend all day sipping on that soda, you’re exposing your teeth for a much longer time, and that’s much more unhealthy for your teeth.”
Reality: “This myth stemmed from a 1950 study to alert the public of the cavity-causing effects of soda,” Dr. Smigel. “However, attempts to re-create this experiment have shown that the claims may be exaggerated. Leaving your tooth in a glass of soda isn't good for it, but it won't completely dissolve overnight, or even in a couple of days.” (Not that we think you’re attempting this experiment anyway.) Dissolved or not, the lesson is still the same. “Soda and most energy drinks contain acids which lower the pH of the saliva and lead to softening of the enamel, thus creating an environment for tooth decay,” Dr. Persha says.