Dental Myths: 5 Lies You Probably Believe

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Fact: The condition of our teeth shows a lot more about our health than most people realize.
Myth: Having a porcelain-white grill always means good oral health.

Even if you are sure you are taking great care of your dental needs, you may be wrong. Each year, millions of Americans unknowingly harm themselves by adhering to outdated "dental myths." It almost goes without saying that it is important to be able to identify the difference between scientifically proven fact and popularly held misconceptions - Particularly when it comes to all things concerning your health.

Dr. Gerry Curatola, the founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry and creator of the Revitin toothpaste product-line, sat down with Dr. Manny Alvarez, a senior managing health editor for last month to debunk five of the most widespread dental myths that are currently hurting America's health.

Dental Myth # 1: Sugar is the foremost cause of tooth decay

"Sugar is the primary cause of tooth decay" is perhaps the most publically accepted myth of all. While it's true to say that sugar plays a significant role in the development of cavity formation, it is not the principal cause of decay itself. In reality, tooth decay is the result of acids from bacteria that - as Dr. Gerry puts it - have "gone to the dark side.

Dr. Gerry says: that the bad bugs responsible for tooth decay develop after a person digests carbohydrates. These "bad bugs" can develop from eating both healthy and unhealthy foods including, vegetables, grains, and fruits.

Dental Myth # 2: Teeth whitening will damage your enamel

Fact: Teeth whitening, when done under the expert supervision of a dentist, will not harm a person's enamel. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products, however, often carry acidic ingredients that are known to damage tooth enamel.

Dr. Gerry Says: [when asked about over-the-counter tooth whitening products] “If the product is too acidic, the product is too strong … Overuse or misuse of these products can cause the enamel to get fragile and even more porous. These are the kinds of things that really need more regulation, and they can be damaging, but teeth whitening by itself is a safe treatment."

Dental Myth# 3: Silver fillings don't need to be replaced

Most folks are oblivious to the dangers of silver fillings, proving once and for all that, yes, 'what ya don't know can hurt ya.' According to Dr. Gerry, silver fillings are inherently dangerous to humans because they are made with "52% Mercury." Quite concerning when you consider that mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that has been linked to autoimmune diseases, neurological issues, chronic diseases and mental disorders.

Dr. Gerry says: Not replacing your silver fillings may prove to be toxic as time goes by. According to the oral care expert, “There's also research – and it's proven that mercury leeches out over time from these silver fillings – more if you drink hot liquids and chew things. My opinion is that I don’t think any amount of mercury is good, and especially if [these fillings are] breaking down, they should be replaced.”

Dental Myth# 4: Mouthwash with alcohol is okay to use

Over-the-counter mouthwash containing alcohol was linked to oral cancer over 50 years ago. In spite of its potential cancer-causing side-effects, however, alcohol-based mouthwash is still commonly recommended by dentists and widely used by American consumers.

Dr. Gerry Says: “Mouthwash should not have alcohol. Alcohol is dehydrating and denaturing to this natural ecology of the mouth called the oral microbiome.”

Dental Myth# 5: Wisdom teeth serve no purpose

From a young age, we are taught that wisdom teeth are nothing more than vestigial organs. Sure, wisdom teeth might have been practical for our distant ancestors, but they have since lost their functionality coming into the modern human age. Right?

Well, maybe not. New dental research from Japan suggests that pulp located in your wisdom teeth contain stem cells similar to those found in bone marrow. Some scientists believe using these stem cells could lead to our ability to regrow teeth in the near- future.

Dr. Gerry Says: “I don't think every child should have their wisdom teeth ripped out, but I do believe that we are finding an intraspecies evolution where wisdom teeth do not have room to erupt, and if they are malpositioned, they can cause problems [like] cysts in the jaw, infections, and pain.”

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You Can Watch Dr. Gerry's Full Interview Here