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1. Sugar Is the Only Thing That Causes Cavities

Myth, but it’s almost a fact. 

“The truth is, acid produced by bacteria in your mouth is the cause of cavities,” says Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, an American Dental Association spokeswoman. 

Any carb you eat can start that process. That includes sugar as well as rice, potatoes, bread, fruits, and vegetables.

2. Acid Causes Tooth Decay

Fact. Acidic foods can break down your teeth's outer shell (enamel), weaken the tooth, and make teeth more prone to decay. 

“The bacteria responsible for tooth decay produces acids. Eating acidic foods often throughout the day (including juice and soda) can enhance that process,” says Misty Horn-Blake, DDS, a dentist in Johnson City, TN. 

So, go light on the acid and practice good oral care.

3. Kids Get Way More Cavities Than Adults

Myth. Thanks to fluoride in tap water, “we’ve actually cut decay in school-aged children by half in the last 20 years,” Harms says. 

On the flip side, she says cavities in senior citizens are on the rise because of medicines that dry out the mouth. They reduce saliva, which protects your teeth.   

4. Aspirin Next to a Tooth Will Help a Toothache

Myth. You have to swallow the aspirin to ease your pain. Since aspirin is acidic, it could burn your gum tissue and cause a painful abscess if you place it next to a tooth.

5. All Fillings Will Need to Replaced

Myth. “Fillings do have a life expectancy,” Harms says, but it depends on things like tooth wear and oral hygiene. 

If you keep up with your dental routine, you’re less likely to have problems, and your fillings may last longer.

6. You’ll Know When You Have a Cavity

Myth. “Sometimes you will know it, but at that point, it has usually spread to larger proportions than it would have if it had been found at a routine dental screening,” Horn-Blake says. 

With timely checkups, your dentist can find a cavity before it causes pain.

7. Once a Tooth Is Treated, the Decay Stops

Fact. Once you get a cavity filled, the decay spot is removed. And if you take care of your teeth, the decay from the spot that was filled will most likely stay clear.  

8. Cavities Are More Likely Between Teeth

Fact. “Anywhere bacteria can hide that you can't, or aren't able to, reach with a toothbrush or floss is a likely place for decay,” Harms says. 

Use a mouthwash to help reach tough spots.

9. Clenching and Grinding May Lead to Cavities

Myth, but not far from fact. Cavities come from acid-producing bacteria. But clenching and grinding are among the worst things you can do to your teeth, Harms says. 

With normal chewing, teeth touch for a tiny fraction of a millisecond, which causes little stress. But clenching and grinding put a huge amount of pressure on your teeth. The strain can eventually cause cracks and fractures of your teeth, which speeds up tooth decay.

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