Honolulu cosmetic dentist unveils myths, truths about teeth

"Myth or Truth" with Honolulu Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Wynn Okuda

Honolulu Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Wynn Okuda sat down to explain some "Myths or Truths" about teeth.

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Facebook: Dr. Wynn Okuda, Dental Day Spa of Hawaii


1.  Teeth Bleaching is safe for teeth…. TRUTH!

In general, in-office/ over-the-counter teeth whitening or bleaching procedures and kits are safe for most people with healthy teeth and gums.  Bleaching is not recommended for patients with gum disease, decay and weak enamel as it may escalate the disease process.  Also over doing bleaching beyond what is recommended is not safe.  Certain stains or discoloration will not be affected by bleaching.  It's a good idea to consult your dentist before starting bleaching.

2. Poor oral health affects the health of the entire body…. TRUTH!

It's a myth that bad oral health will only affect your mouth.  For example, studies have shown a link between periodontal (gum) disease and cardiovascular disease.  This is why it is important for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease to visit their dentist and hygienist on a regular basis for exams and cleanings, practice good oral home care (brushing and flossing), and let their dentist know of any health issues or changes in their health.

Poor oral health may also affect your nutrition and the types of foods that you eat, due to a person's ability to bite and chew.

3. It's all right to lose baby teeth to tooth decay…. MYTH!

Honolulu Pedodontist Dr. Gavin Uchida recommends that it's important to keep baby teeth healthy, just like permanent teeth.  Premature tooth loss can affect a child's speech development, chewing and nutritional intake, and self-esteem issues.  It can also cause shifting of other teeth requiring orthodontics in the future to correct it.  Best to be preventive and take care of all teeth from the start.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry over 53% of baby teeth are lost prematurely due to dental decay.

4. If your gums are bleeding, you should avoid brushing or flossing it….  MYTH!

Although for other parts of the body, if you are bleeding you'll leave it alone, bleeding gums need to be addressed.  If your gums are bleeding, it may be because food particles or plaque are building up and causing irritation and inflammation.  Focusing on brushing and flossing especially in that area.

5. Sugar is the only thing that can causes cavities…. MYTH!

People may think that only sugar can lead to cavities.  The truth is if you eat acidic foods such as Kim Chee, citruses, and cola drinks it may erode the teeth to the point of causing cavities.  It's important to remember that the amount of time teeth are exposed to acid or sugar is also a large factor in the development of cavities.

6. Most Root Canal treatment is painful… MYTH!

The infected tooth and inflamed nerve is the major source of pain, not the root canal treatment.  The American Academy of Endodontists states that root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves it. The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago, but with modern technologies, proper diagnostic process and anesthetics, root canal treatment today is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed.  Remember when your dentist recommends that you have root canal treatment, it's so essential to have that done promptly. Don't wait until the discomfort starts!

7.  You lose a tooth for every pregnancy, as baby takes calcium away from mom… MYTH!

It's a myth that pregnancy takes calcium away from mom's teeth and causes tooth loss. However, it's important for expectant and new mom's to continue good home care, like brushing and flossing, and visits to the dentist, to ensure their teeth and gums stay healthy through hormonal, diet and lifestyle changes.

8.  Porcelain veneers are only for cosmetic dentistry…. MYTH! 

It's a myth that porcelain veneers are for cosmetic dentistry and appearance only.  To restore broken down, heavily decayed teeth, porcelain veneers are actually a more conservative restoration than crowns.  Minimal tooth preparation and minimal removal of natural tooth is ideal, as it allows patients the best options to keep their teeth for a lifetime.

9.  Dental decay is only a young person's problem…. MYTH!

Although it seems as though kids get most of the cavities, adults are not completely safe.  Certain medications, such as antihistamines and diuretics may have the side effect of "dry mouth" where saliva is reduced.  Less saliva means teeth may not be rinsed as much, leaving them exposed to sugars longer.  In addition, adults tend to have receding gums, which exposes the root area of the tooth, leading to "root decay".  Root decay is an especially difficult decay to contend with, as it may not cause discomfort or sensitivity as it progresses.  Therefore it is harder to detect and diagnose.

10.  All dental procedures should be avoided during pregnancy…. MYTH!

The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to get dental care while pregnant.  Routine cleanings and examinations will help pregnant women to address potential problems caused by hormonal changes and pregnancy.  These include inflammation of the gums and increased risk of cavities.  The best trimester to have elective dental treatment done is the second trimester.  If you have any questions, consult your dentist or obstetrician/ gynecologist.