Ask a Specialist: Mouth Myth Busters

How would we eat without our teeth?  How would we speak? Our teeth are so important for daily living, yet many of us take them for granted. What are some of the dental myths out there that may keep us from taking action to protect our teeth?

Dr. Natalie Chien, dental resident at The Queen’s Medical Center, debunks some of those myths. She says the biggest misconception is when people say “I have soft teeth.”

“This statement implies an increased susceptibility to cavities or tooth decay. It also implies a lack of control, that a person inherited the trait of “soft” or susceptible teeth rather than attributing cavities to choices and habits. Inheritance of teeth truly susceptible to tooth decay via abnormal dentin and enamel formation is extremely rare,” she corrects.

Ways to lower risk of tooth decay include:

  • Good oral hygiene practices
  • Limit sugar intake
  • Limit acid exposure
  • Use fluoride products

Another common misconception is that it’s OK to let baby teeth decay because they are just going to fall out anyway. Dr. Chien warns that tooth decay of baby teeth can lead to pain, infection, tooth loss, trouble eating, speaking, playing, and learning.

She says people are often surprised to learn they have gum disease because they’ve never had cavities. “Periodontal disease is the more scientific term for gum disease, and it describes the complex process in which the supporting bone and gums are destroyed over time. This process is different from that of tooth structure destruction from caries (cavities),” she says.

Lastly, Dr. Chien says aging doesn’t mean losing teeth! “Dentures are a thing of the past, or at least can be. Dentures are preventable because tooth decay and associated tooth loss are preventable. It is not only possible to keep all of your teeth into old age, it is becoming less common for the elderly to need dentures,” she elaborates.

Dr. Chien is part of the Queen’s Dental Clinic, which is staffed by dental residents, selected from among the most successful dental school graduates in the nation. They are supervised by the Director of Dental Resident Education and a group of dedicated private dentists and dental specialists who practice in the community and are also members of Queen’s medical staff.

The clinic provides modern and comprehensive dental care for patients of all ages. For more information, call (808) 691-4292 or click here.

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