10 dental myths exploded

Fact or fiction?

Are white teeth healthier? Is there fluoride in our tap water? Here is the truth behind 10 dental myths.

MYTH No one uses NHS dentists any more.
 Almost 30 million people (more than half the population of England) saw an NHS dentist between 2009 and 2011. This is an increase of more than a million since March 2006.

Find an NHS dentist.

MYTH Children today have terrible teeth.
FACT The dental health of British schoolchildren is steadily improving. Six out of ten children start school with no tooth decay. But it's important to introduce a good dental health regime as early as possible.

Read more about how to care for children's teeth.

MYTH White teeth are healthier teeth.
We may think they look better, but teeth aren't meant to be pure white. You can help keep your teeth as white as possible by brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing. Avoiding food and drinks that can stain teeth, such as tea, coffee and red wine, will also help to keep them white.

MYTH I have to see a dentist every six months.
Your dentist will tell you how often you should come in for a dental check-up, and if you have very good oral health, this may be no more than once every two years.

MYTH There is fluoride in our water supply.
Only around 10% of the UK's water supply has enough fluoride in it to benefit your dental health. You can find out if there's fluoride in your water from your water supplier. 

MYTH Baby toothpaste is better for young children.
Some baby toothpaste brands don’t have enough fluoride in them to help prevent tooth decay. Choose a brand that contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride. Check the packaging to see if it contains enough fluoride.

MYTH Only the sugar in sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks and chocolate is bad for my teeth.
While all these foods are bad for your teeth (and your general health), dried fruit, fruit juice and honey contain natural sugars that can cause tooth decay. Limit the amount of these foods that you eat, don't have them between meals and brush your teeth twice a day.

Read more about how to get your children to care for their teeth.

MYTH There's no need to brush milk teeth.
Even though your child will lose their milk teeth, they still have to be brushed. Establishing good habits early in life helps ensure life-long dental health. Brush your baby's teeth twice daily from the moment their first tooth cuts through.

Read more about how to brush your teeth properly.

MYTH I'll need false teeth when I'm older.
Improvements in dental hygiene mean that more of us keep our natural teeth into old age. In 1968, 37% of adults had no natural teeth. By 1998, the figure had fallen to 12%.

MYTH Bad breath is only caused by not brushing your teeth properly.
 Most cases (up to 90%) of halitosis (bad breath) are caused by bad oral hygiene.

Regular brushing, flossing, eating and drinking healthily, and taking plenty of exercise are the best ways to avoid bad breath.

Dental abscess: an animation

This animation explains in detail what a dental abscess is, why it occurs and how it can be treated

Last reviewed: 02/12/2011

Next review due: 02/12/2013


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Comments are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Kathevans said on 22 March 2013

My personal experience , they just want a easy life. I had all my top teeth taken out, because they thought it would be easier. The problem I have is with my bottom teeth. Now I have a denture which rips my mouth apart, I feel sick all the time, my bottom teeth still need at tension. All my NHS dentist say I have to live with it, way to go NHS

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ETrundleford said on 02 October 2012

Myth: NHS dentistry is provided to a decent standard
Fact: There have been several studies done which show that the survival rate of NHS dental treatment is substantially lower than work provided using other funding mechanisms.

Furthermore, the NHS in England incentivises dentists to underdiagnose by paying them the same for a course of treatment, regardless of whether you need 10 filling or 1.

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