A lot of experts say that your oral health is directly related to your overall health but there are some misconceptions. For one, people often associate sugar with tooth decay, but that's not always the case, according to Dr. Roger Briggs, a dentist in Scottsdale, Arizona with Briggs Family Dentistry. The sugar, he says, is just the fuel that feeds the germ and in turn, it produces a lot of acid. This acid is what makes its way into the enamel.
Another misconception is that teeth whitening can damage the enamel but if done properly, no damage will occur, says Dr. Briggs. He cautions against using home whitening kits and urges people to see a professional about teeth whitening, so you know you're using materials that will work.
A lot of people still have amalgam fillings in their mouth, which contain mercury, raising a lot of concern about the neurotoxin mercury produces. Dr. Briggs says that the WHO, CDC and ADA have all found that amalgam is still a fine, inexpensive restoration for the tooth. While it's a debatable issue, Dr. Briggs is happy to replace a patient's amalgam fillings with tooth-colored fillings, should they have concerns about the mercury. The composite overlays that Dr. Briggs uses are beautiful and long-lasting, so he feels very comfortable about doing the procedure. As there is more cost involved with tooth-colored fillings, Dr. Briggs feels that amalgam fillings should not be banned so as to not prohibit people from taking care of their teeth.
There is concern about the existence of alcohol in mouthwash, related to a link to oral cancer and Dr. Briggs doesn't believe there should be alcohol in any mouth rinse. With so many other options available, he says it doesn't need to be there at all.
Some wonder if wisdom teeth serve a purpose and Dr. Briggs says if they're crowding the mouth or are partially covered, they can cause some life-threatening infections. While that's an extreme example, some people want to have them removed just to have them removed. Dr. Briggs still has his and credits them to protecting his temporomandibular joint when he bites down hard on something. His position, along with oral surgeons, is that they don't need to be taken out "just because they're there." If the jaw is growing properly, wisdom teeth should be maintained and kept, he says.
Dr. Roger Briggs is with Briggs Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Briggs is a leading dental expert with Dentist News Network, providing online, on-demand dental news video content across many dental specialties. Dentist News Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.