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11. Sensitivity in Teeth Means You Have Decay

Myth. Tooth sensitivity could just mean you have hypersensitive teeth, or you have gum recession that's exposed some root.

You could also have a cracked or broken tooth or could need a root canal. “There are many things, including decay, that could lead to sensitive teeth,” Harms says.

12. Cavities Are the Only Reason for Root Canals

Myth. You need a root canal if the nerve inside a tooth is damaged. Untreated cavities may eventually lead to nerve damage, but there other causes, too.

“Cracks, fractures, or other types of trauma to the tooth can also cause nerve damage,” says Harms. In many cases “clenching and grinding can traumatize the tooth severely enough to need root canal therapy.”

13. Clenching and Grinding May Lead to Cavities

Fact. “Clenching and grinding is one of the most destructive things you can do to your teeth,” says Harms. With normal chewing, teeth touch for mere milliseconds, suffering very little stress. But clenching and grinding puts tremendous pressure on your teeth for extended periods.

That strain “can eventually cause damage and cracks and fractures of your teeth,” says Harms. If those fractures expose the weaker dentin, tooth decay can form at a faster rate. “Typically grinding and clenching lead to the need for crowns to restore the fractured tooth or root canal therapy to treat the traumatized nerve.”

14. You Don’t Need to Worry About Cavities in Baby Teeth

Myth. Baby teeth hold the space for permanent teeth. “If cavities are left untreated in baby teeth, they can develop into serious pain and abscesses. Occasionally the infection can spread to other areas of the body, and in rare occasions can even result in death,” says Harms.

15. Brushing, Flossing, and Rinsing Is the Best Way to Prevent Cavities

Fact. “Absolutely! Prevention is the key,” says Harms. You need to remove bacteria from teeth. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss and rinse daily. Antimicrobial rinses target bacteria, reducing plaque, bad breath, and the severity of gingivitis. Rinses with fluoride make teeth more resistant to decay. If bacteria are removed daily from every area of your tooth, “you won't get cavities,” says Harms.

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