Many decades ago unqualified dentists (quacks) provided certain dental treatment that was not based on scientific principles and along with this kind of assumption based treatment; myths developed which became imprinted in people's minds.

Dentistry today is an advanced specialized branch of medical science based on scientific facts. Research in dental science has led to better understanding of oral diseases and a systematic approach to treatment based on facts became established. This advancement in dental science has only reduced the myths and not completely eliminated it from the minds of the people. In this article few of the myths, which still exist, are presented along with their related facts for people to understand.

Myth - Removal of upper teeth affects vision :

Fact :- There is a myth among many people that removal of the upper teeth affects vision. This is a misconception. Vision is not affected in any way by undertaking treatment of the upper teeth including its extraction.

Myth - An artificial set of teeth or complete denture that is made once is forever :

Fact :- While it is true that the patient uses well fitting dentures for many years, it is a myth that it can be retained forever. The oral tissues that lie below the dentures change over a period of time. But the dentures are made of stiff materials that do not adapt according to the changing contours of the oral tissues. Thus even a well fitting denture may not fit well after a few years.

If an ill-fitting denture is continued to be worn, it can cause damage to the underlying tissues. Thus most dentists advice changing of the dentures once in at least 5 years.

Myth - Once a decayed tooth is treated the dental problem is over :

Fact :- Dental decay is treated by use of various restorative materials. However the artificial material usually will not completely match the tooth in strength, colour, smoothness and other qualities. In addition if the patient does not maintain good hygiene, decay can start again around restorations. Hence, whenever a tooth is filled or replaced it requires use of additional cleaning methods like flossing, Interdental brushes, etc, in addition to regular tooth brushing. In addition dental check up once a year becomes all the more important when you have a treated tooth.

Myth - Professional cleaning/scaling/removal of tartar loosens the teeth :

Fact :- Teeth are held firmly by the supporting tissues of the Peridontium including bone. Bad oral hygiene results in the deposition of tartar /calculus on the tooth surface. These deposits irritate the gums and can cause inflammation and bleeding of the gums. If the tartar is not removed, the gums may recede and the supporting bone around the teeth gets destroyed. The tartar on the teeth thus causes great harm to the supporting tissues of the teeth.

However, patients may experience slight mobility of the teeth after tartar is removed as it kind of binds the teeth together. Professional cleaning removes this tartar and arrests further destruction of supporting bone. Removal of tartar deposits only helps to recover the health of supporting structures. This chain of events does not take place in people who have dental checkup regularly.

Myth- Dental procedures are always painful :

Fact :- Most dental procedures are carried out under local anesthesia, which makes the procedures totally painless. In addition the modern day high-speed drills cause less vibrations and are more comfortable for the patients.

Myth - Dental treatment should be avoided during pregnancy :

Fact :- The above notion is not true. Many a times dental treatment is provided even during late pregnancy. Routine dental procedures can be carried out without any fear. However, major surgical procedure may require medical opinion before treatment. Dental X-rays are to be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy. .

Myth - Cleaning the teeth with finger & powder is better than with toothbrush :

Fact :– The use of a toothbrush with bristles to clean plaque and food particles from almost all the surfaces of the teeth. The finger may not reach all the areas as well as a brush does. Hence, it is recommended to use a toothbrush with paste to clean the teeth and freshen the mouth. Finger can only be used to massage the gums after brushing is complete.

Myth - Charcoal, salt, rice husk, tobacco, etc, in powder form is better than toothpaste in cleaning teeth :

Fact :- The objective of cleaning the teeth is to remove the plaque and food particles on and around the teeth by the bristles of a toothbrush with the help of a toothpaste or powder. A standard paste or powder contains proper sized particles, which are not harmful to the teeth. However, other powders are coarse and can erode the outer layer of the teeth and permanently damage them. Hence, only standard toothpaste or powder should be used with a toothbrush.

Toothpaste is better than powder as it can easily be dispensed on the brush and it may contain fluorides, anti-tartar chemicals, etc. The foaming action of the toothpaste also helps to freshen the mouth. Tobacco should not be used. Users enjoy the euphoric effect of nicotine present in tobacco rather than cleaning of the teeth and slowly become addicted to it. Hence, it should never be used.

Myth - Thumb sucking by children leads to forward placement of upper teeth :

Fact :- Thumb sucking is a normal infant habit, which makes the child feel secure and happy. It usually decreases after the age of 3 years. However, if the habit persists beyond the age of 4-5 years it can cause problems of the teeth including forward placement of the teeth. In these children, depending upon the frequency and severity of the habit an intervention of the habit by a dental surgeon may be required.

Myth - A child never needs cleaning of milk teeth :

Fact :- It is a myth that we need not clean a child's teeth. Children are as much prone for dental decay or gum diseases as adults. In fact children tend to have sweet food including sweetened milk and juices, which can promote dental caries. So it is advisable to start the habit of cleaning the infant's teeth soon after they appear in the mouth. In fact it is advised to clean baby’s gum pads everyday by gentle massage even before the teeth erupt.

Myth - Milk teeth need not be cared for because they last only for a few years, and these teeth will anyway be replaced by permanent teeth :

Fact :- Early loss of milk teeth will interfere with chewing and affect the child’s nutrition. Early loss of milk teeth leads to drifting of the adjacent teeth and closure of some of the space that is required for the succeeding permanent teeth to erupt into. Such a loss of space will cause the permanent teeth to erupt in irregular position and result in crowding. Therefore milk teeth need to be cared for as much as permanent teeth.

Myth - When the gums bleed, it is better not to brush the teeth :

Fact :- Bleeding of gums is a sign that they are inflammed and are not healthy. This usually is a result of plaque and food particles accumulating around the teeth. Until this collection is removed, the gums continue to bleed. This is an indication that the individual needs to visit a dentist for opinion and treatment. Brushing the teeth with a soft toothbrush by the proper technique removes the plaque and helps the gums recover. Initial bleeding seen during brushing gradually reduces over a period of time.

Myth - Keeping an aspirin tablet beside a painful tooth reduces the tooth pain:

Fact :- A toothache cannot be relieved by placing an aspirin tablet anywhere in the mouth. In fact this is a dangerous habit as it causes burns of the soft tissues around the area of placement. Hence, aspirin tablets should not be placed in mouth but swallowed after eating some food to relieve the pain

Myth - When an artificial set of teeth are worn, the upper denture logically has to fall down in the mouth and create problems, however the lower denture that should rest in place does not stay :

Fact :- Although the lower denture rests on the ridges of jaw, it does get easily dislodged because of the interference of the muscles of check, lips tongue and movement of the jaw during function. However, with time the muscles learn to co-ordinate with the lower denture and the patient overcomes this problem. The upper denture, on the other hand stays in its place due to creation of suction under the palate.