Dentists Set Straight Common Tooth Myths
Learn the Truth Behind Common Oral Health Habits
When it comes to maintaining optimal oral health, there is plenty
of advice out there, some of which, unfortunately, isn’t correct. The Academy of General
Dentistry (AGD) looks to set the record straight on common dental myths and help patients
determine what is fact and what is fiction.
Myth: Crushed aspirin on teeth provides pain relief
Suffering from a toothache? Unfortunately, this popular folk remedy won’t help. Crushing an
aspirin on an affected tooth doesn’t provide pain relief—and it even could cause a chemical burn on the soft tissues of the mouth.
“Aspirin works by blocking pain after it is ingested and enters the bloodstream to travel to the
part of the body that is in need of pain relief,” says AGD Spokesperson Carolyn L. Taggart-
Burns, DDS, MAGD. “Crushing an aspirin against your tooth will not allow for a significant
amount of the medicine to enter the bloodstream and help relieve the toothache.”
Instead, visit your dentist so that he or she can conduct a complete oral examination to determine the cause of your tooth pain. Among the common causes of tooth pain are infection, gum disease, and grinding. Once the cause is known, your dentist can help alleviate the pain.
Myth: Diet soft drinks don’t damage teeth
Are you addicted to soft drinks? You may be shocked to learn that drinking large quantities of
your favorite carbonated beverages—even the diet varieties—can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. Both regular and diet soft drinks contain high levels of citric acid, which can cause tooth erosion.
“The acid wears away tooth enamel—the glossy, protective outside layer of the tooth,” Dr.
Taggart-Burns says. “Without the protection of enamel, teeth are more susceptible to developing cavities, as well as becoming sensitive, cracked, and discolored.”
Dr. Taggart-Burns recommends that her patients minimize their intake of soft drinks and drink
more water. Additionally, she advises them to either chew sugar-free gum or rinse their mouths
with water after drinking carbonated beverages. “Both tactics increase saliva flow, which
naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal,” she says.
Myth: Brushing with baking soda is a safe way to whiten teeth
Baking soda is used around the home for many purposes, but can it also whiten teeth? Using
equal parts baking soda and water to brush your teeth will indeed remove surface stains.
However, proceed with caution! With continual use, the abrasiveness of baking soda could wear away tooth enamel, increasing your risk of developing cavities.
“Baking soda may be an inexpensive way to eliminate surface stains, but I recommend you speak with your dentist so that he or she can advise you on what is the most effective and safe teeth whitening method for your mouth,” Dr. Taggart-Burns says.
“Good oral health should be a priority in any person’s life, because poor oral health and
untreated oral disease can have a significant impact on quality of life,” Dr. Taggart-Burns adds.
“Patients should see their dentist every six months for a checkup, and most importantly, if you
have questions regarding your oral health routine, just be honest with your dentist. We are
always ready to help answer your questions and determine the best oral hygiene practices for