Cavities are one of the world’s most common health problems.1 (Fact)

Even so, there are enough myths out there to fill every cavity on the planet. (Maybe—but not a fact)

Here’s a look at 6 cavity myths and facts

Myth 1: If I have a cavity, I’ll feel it.

Cavity fact: You might feel little or no pain at all.

Tooth decay causes cavities. If the tooth decay is advanced, you might feel general pain, or pain when eating something sweet, hot or cold. But when a cavity is forming, you might not have any symptoms at all. That’s why it’s important to get regular checkups and cleanings even if you don’t feel any tooth pain or sensitivity.2

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, check out these causes and remedies for toothaches.

Myth 2: Only sugar causes cavities.

Cavity fact: Starch is just as bad for teeth.

Candy, desserts and soda are some of the main causes of cavities. However, starches like chips, bread and pasta can cause the same damage. When you eat sugars or starches, clean them off your teeth quickly before plaque starts to form and eventually cause tooth decay.3

Myth 3: Frequent snacking can produce extra saliva to stop cavities.

Cavity fact: More saliva is good, but certain foods can be bad.

Saliva neutralizes acids and helps wash bacteria and leftover food off your teeth. But here’s the catch: if you snack on foods full of sugars and starches, you could be doing more harm than good.4

To maintain good saliva flow and improve your dental health, try snacking on these foods that are good for your teeth.

Myth 4: Dairy products aren’t important for your teeth.

Cavity fact: Dairy products are very important for your teeth.

Milk, for example, is a primary dietary source of calcium, which strengthens tooth enamel. Cheese contains casein: a type of protein that works with calcium to stabilize and repair tooth enamel.5

Myth 5: Baby teeth can’t get cavities because they’re temporary.

Cavity fact: Any enamel, especially in young children, is prone to tooth decay.

One common cause of baby teeth cavities is the frequent and prolonged exposure to sugary drinks. This can happen when you put your baby to bed with a bottle, or when a bottle is used as a pacifier for a fussy baby. A lack of fluoride can also increase the risk of cavities.6

To keep your baby’s mouth healthy, explore these articles on baby’s first tooth and how to care for your newborn’s gums.

Myth 6: The mercury in dental amalgam, or silver fillings, is dangerous.

Cavity fact: The American Dental Association considers dental amalgam a safe and durable material for restoring teeth.

In fact, dental amalgam has helped restore the teeth of over 100 million Americans. Although mercury is used to bind a mix of silver, tin and copper into a strong and solid filling, decades of studies have established dental amalgam as safe and effective.7

Humana can help with cavities and tooth decay

If you have a cavity or tooth decay, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.

Sources

  1. “Cavities/tooth decay,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed December 16, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/symptoms-causes/syc-20352892, opens new window.
  2. “Cavities,” WebMD, last accessed December 16, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-health-cavities#1, opens new window.
  3. “Cavities/tooth decay.”
  4. “Tooth Enamel Erosion,” WebMD, last accessed December 16, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tooth-enamel-protection#1, opens new window.
  5. “Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth,” Health.com, last accessed December 16, 2020, https://www.health.com/condition/oral-health/best-and-worst-foods-for-your-teeth?slide=2c5c0391-8220-4b7d-8418-ec8f7ad0931f#2c5c0391-8220-4b7d-8418-ec8f7ad0931f, opens new window.
  6. “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay,” American Dental Association, last accessed December 17, 2020, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay, opens new window.
  7. “Statement on Dental Amalgam,” American Dental Association, last accessed December 17, 2020, https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-positions-policies-and-statements/statement-on-dental-amalgam, opens new window.