Myth #1: Children lose all of the baby teeth at age 6.
This isn’t so much a myth, but really an oversight. In the age of the internet, where you can search for anything on your smartphone at any instant, there is no excuse for not knowing when your child loses your baby teeth. However, this is still one of the most common question that dentists get. This is because no one remembers losing the back baby teeth during ages 10 to 12. They are not exciting, and not memorable. The front teeth are the “memorable” baby teeth that get lost between ages 6 and 8. The tooth fairy shows up with much hullabaloo. The back baby teeth that show up at age 1 are not lost until ages 10 to 12 on average. If you have a hole in your back tooth at age 5, and you won’t lose that tooth for another 5 to 7 years, that is a problem! You don’t want to just “pull it out”. Preventing cavities can help prevent needles, drilling, and extractions!
Myth #2: Cavities are caused by genetics or “weak enamel.”
Genetics do play a role in everything, and just like diabetes or obesity, some children are more genetically prone to cavities. However, that does not make cavities non-preventable. You could have the strongest teeth in the world, but if you don’t follow Dr. Lucas’ three principles, you will get cavities. You can only control what you can control. You can’t control genetics, so don’t focus on that. Children who are more genetically prone to cavities simply need to stick to the three principles more closely.
Most cavities are not caused by weak enamel, but since the old way of thinking about cavities gives no other answer, that is all dentists can say based on the old paradigm. If you leave cavities up to fate, you might as well leave it up to chance. If you want to be proactive, there is a better way to think about it: by making simple diet modifications over a five year period and following the three principles. The same habit done everyday adds up over time, for better or for worse. If you only give your child healthy snacks, which also happen to cause cavities, then they will end up with cavities even if you brush and floss.
Myth #3: If your child never has candy, soda, or juice, and get their teeth brushed for 4 minutes a day, they won’t get any cavities.
If this were true, then why has the rate of cavities increased in children since the 1970s? Why are so many doctors and dentists children still getting cavities? Are we giving our children more candy and juice in our über health conscious world? No! Sometimes, the answer is not what you expect. Preventing cavities is 20% head knowledge, and 80% habits. The first problem is that the current knowledge out there doesn’t address the whole problem. It is too focused on the treatment, and not the cause, which is diet. Continuing to throw more fluoride on your child’s teeth is helpful, but can’t fix the underlying cause which is frequency of cavity causing snacks and liquids touching your child’s teeth. The problem is, even bananas, oranges, crackers and milk have the capacity to cause cavities under the wrong circumstances. It breaks my heart when parents give their children only organic foods, and they still end up with cavities. Focusing on the everyday habits is more important long term for cavity prevention. For example, you should be just as afraid of a healthy orange as ice cream when it comes to your teeth. Both have sugar, but thankfully, both rinse away after 20 minutes. If you were to make it a habit of giving your child oranges or ice cream all day long, both would cause cavities, even if you were a perfect brusher. You can’t out-brush a bad tooth diet. The first focus for cavity prevention should be diet and habits, the second should be brushing and fluoride.