9 Dental Health Facts That Will Surprise You and Improve Your Health

Improve your dental health

Do you know that your teeth tell a story? It’s true! Your teeth are integral to your overall health. When your mouth is unhealthy, it can cause other health effects. An unhealthy mouth is correlated with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Plus, oral disease is linked to tobacco usage and overconsumption of sugary beverages and foods. 

Perhaps you knew that already, but we bet there are some facts about dental health you don’t know. We’re pretty sure they’ll surprise you.

Do you know these dental health facts?

At Sheppard Family Dental Care, we love teeth. That’s probably a good thing, too, since we’re a dental clinic. But over the years, as we have shared our passion for good dental health with our patients, we have learned that our patients also love teeth, mainly when it results in a happy, healthy, and beautiful smile. That’s how we know that taking care of your teeth and gums is just as important to you as it is to us. 

We want to share some dental health facts with you that you might not be aware of. And since knowledge is power, these facts might help you make a few changes to your dental health to keep your mouth in tip-top shape.

1. Those baby teeth are just as important as your adult teeth.

So many parents have told us that they don’t think baby teeth are all that important. But that’s not the case. Those baby teeth help your child learn to chew and speak. And baby teeth serve as placeholders for their permanent teeth down the road. Neglecting those baby teeth can cause damage to their future adult teeth, possibly resulting in spacing issues, not to mention difficulty chewing and speaking as an adult.

2. Tooth sensitivity is quite common.

Dental sensitivity is quite common for people between the ages of 20 and 40. If you experience dental sensitivity, it isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but it is something to pay attention to. Most people with sensitive teeth experience zingers here or there, or discomfort when the tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures. This is due to worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. In other situations, tooth sensitivity can be due to a cavity, a chipped or cracked tooth, a worn filling, or gum disease. If you are experiencing sensitivity in your mouth, mention it to your dentist at your next appointment.

3. Over 42 million Americans will have dentures by 2024.

The use of dentures in the United States continues to rise. In 2020, there were just under 40 million denture wearers, but now, it is estimated that about 42.46 million Americans will wear dentures by 2024. That’s nearly 13% of the U.S. population. So why is denture usage so common? As we age, we’re more likely to experience tooth loss from gum disease, injury, or tooth decay. Dentures are quick and relatively cost-effective for those with tooth loss to restore their smile.

4. Your tooth will lose feeling if you have a root canal.

Root canal treatments are common. In fact, according to 2016 data, nearly 15 million root canals were being performed every year. One of the earliest signs that you may need a root canal is a tooth that is sensitive to heat and cold. And one of the most urgently obvious signs is intense, throbbing pain. This is typically an indicator that decay or infection has reached the pulp and nerves of your tooth. A root canal treats the damage and infection by removing the nerves and pulp from the roots of the tooth. 

Once the cause of pain as well as the pain sensors are removed, your tooth will lose feeling. Of course, you will still be able to feel pain if your tooth is bumped or extracted or if the tissue surrounding the tooth is hurt. This is due to the healthy nerves surrounding the tooth. 

While root canal therapy is common and no more painful than a filling, there are steps that patients can take to avoid it. Taking the following steps can not only help you maintain good dental health but can help you avoid a root canal.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Floss once per day.
  • Avoid hard and sticky foods, such as hard candies and lollipops.
  • Avoid chewing on ice cubes.
  • Wear a mouthguard when you play contact sports.
  • Wear a night guard if you clench and grind your teeth at night (bruxism).
  • Avoid acidic drinks and foods, like soda and citrus juices.
  • See your dentist in Lawton, Oklahoma, every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation.

5. Wisdom teeth got their name for a reason.

Your third molars are your wisdom teeth and they probably got their name because they come through at a more mature age than your other teeth. According to the National Library of Medicine, your wisdom teeth don’t fully develop until between the ages of 18 and 24, though for some people, wisdom teeth don’t develop at all.  

Unfortunately, these teeth have a bit of a bad rap simply because in our modern era many people need their wisdom teeth extracted. Your wisdom teeth can cause overcrowding, impaction, and cause decay and infection. As a result, patients with wisdom teeth often complain of pain, difficulty chewing, and bad breath. If your wisdom teeth cause issues, your dentist will recommend wisdom tooth removal.

6. Baby bottle tooth decay is real.

Many parents don’t believe us when we tell them about baby bottle decay. After all, how can a necessary feeding device for your baby cause tooth rot? But the truth is that when your baby has access to a bottle full of sugar water, juice, or soft drinks, it can lead to tooth decay in their newly developed teeth. The best way to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to fill their bottle only with formula, milk, or breast milk. Have your baby finish their nighttime bottle before they go to bed, and avoid leaving a full bottle in bed with them for the night.

7. Get sealants for your kids.

Sealants are thin coatings that your kids’ dentist paints on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to help prevent cavities. Dentists recommend that kids get dental sealants for their first molars around age six. As a follow-up, your dentist will recommend sealants for second molars around age 12. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.

8. Periodontitis is a chronic dental health concern.

When gum disease is in its earliest stage, it is treatable and reversible. However, it is not reversible once it progresses to the later stage, called periodontitis. The bacteria responsible for this late-stage gum disease can enter your bloodstream through your gum tissue, possibly negatively impacting other body parts. This means that you are at greater risk for tooth loss from gum disease and at higher risk of respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and complications related to diabetes.

Periodontitis affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States and is caused by bacteria in the mouth infecting tissue surrounding the tooth, causing inflammation. When bacteria stay on your teeth long enough, they form plaque, which eventually hardens to tartar. This tartar buildup can spread below the gum line when it isn’t caught in time, making teeth harder to clean. At that point, only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the periodontal disease process.

9. Moms can pass tooth decay onto their children.

Tooth decay can be passed down from mother to child. The primary way this happens is via Streptococcus mutans, bacteria that passes from person to person through the transfer of saliva. So, if you share utensils, clean your child’s pacifier with your mouth, or kiss your child on the mouth, you can transfer this harmful decay-causing bacteria. To avoid passing tooth decay on to your kids, ensure your oral hygiene is as healthy as possible before your child comes along, and maintain it. Parents who practice good oral hygiene can help prevent future cavities in their preschool children.

Help protect your dental health with a visit to Sheppard Family Dental Care.

One of the best things you can do to protect your dental health is to ensure you see your dentist every six months. So if you or your child is due or overdue for their dental cleaning and oral evaluation, now is the time to request an appointment with Sheppard Family Dental Care. We look forward to seeing you and sharing more of our favorite surprising dental health facts.