Skip to content

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.

10. Gaps in Teeth Lead to Cavities

Myth. “Bigger gaps are easier to keep clean,” Harms says. So as long as they are free of bacteria, wide spaces are less prone to decay. 

Keep an eye on small gaps, though. Food may get stuck there and lead to cavities if it’s not cleaned out.

11. Chips and Cracks in Teeth Lead to Decay

Fact. Cracks and chips create a home for bacteria where your toothbrush won’t reach. This can hasten decay. Use a fluoride mouth rinse to get to hidden spots.

12. Sensitivity in Teeth Means You Have Decay

Myth. “While cavities can cause some sensitivities to cold and sweets, not all do,” Horn-Blake says. Other things might be making your teeth hurt.

13. Cavities Are the Only Reason for Root Canals

Myth. You need a root canal if the nerve inside a tooth is damaged. An unfilled cavity can lead to a root canal, but so can other things, like clenching and grinding.

14. Babies Can’t Get Cavities

Myth. Primary or "baby" teeth can get cavities that spread to other teeth if left untreated.

15. You Have to Brush, Floss, and Rinse to Prevent Cavities

Fact. “Absolutely! Prevention is the key,” Harms says. You need to remove bacteria from teeth. 

Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss and rinse daily. If bacteria are removed daily from every area of your tooth, “you won't get cavities,” Harms says.