There is a great deal of incorrect healthcare information out there, including several myths about your family’s teeth.  Here we six common dental myths about baby teeth, sugar, and more – and the truth behind them.

Myth #1: Baby teeth are not as important as adult teeth

Baby teeth, or primary teeth, do fall out eventually, but they serve an important purpose. Baby teeth save space in the mouth for adult teeth. They are important for properly chewing foods. They are also necessary for proper speech development.

Myth #2: Sugar causes cavities

Sugar in excess is not good for health in general, but it does not actually cause tooth decay. It plays an important role in the process. Acid and oral bacteria cause cavities. Acid breaks down tooth enamel, and leaves teeth more susceptible to cavities. Sugar gives energy to bad bacteria, which allows it to cause decay. The length of time sugar is on the affects this, so always brush after eating extra sugary or sticky foods.

Myth #3: Chewing sugar-free gum after eating is just as effective as brushing

Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. This is because increased salivary flow from chewing can help wash away acids. In addition, gum with xylitol can suppress bacteria. However, chewing sugar free gum is not a replacement for proper oral care.  Brushing and flossing remove more food particles than gum.

Myth #4: Babies should never use a pacifier; it will mess up their teeth

The sucking reflex is natural for infants, and pacifiers can provide comfort and security. Pacifier use is not likely to cause damage to your baby’s teeth within the first 20 months of age. However, since long-term pacifier use can lead to dental problems, dentists do recommended that parents try to wean kids from pacifiers by age two.

Myth #5: I should not brush bleeding gums

Plaque buildup along the gum line is the primary cause of bleeding gums. When you do not remove plaque in a timely manner, it hardens into tartar and continues to irritate the gums. The best way to reduce plaque buildup is to increase your oral care routine. Hold your toothbrush so that the bristles are at a 45-degree angle to your teeth, with bristles pointing toward your gums.  Floss daily because gums can sometimes stop bleeding with regular flossing.

Myth #6: The dentist will not notice that I do not brush regularly

When you do not brush or floss, bad bacteria in your mouth increase in numbers. This leads to hard-to-remove plaque and tartar with bleeding gums. Plaque and tartar will probably not come off, even if you brush thoroughly before an appointment. Not following recommended brushing twice daily will make the gums red, swollen and bleed easily. This would be obvious to the dentist.