April 1, 2019
The internet can be a great source of dental information, from reputable sources like the American Dental Association. For example, you’ll find lots of informational videos on the ADA’s YouTube channel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of dental misinformation online too – much of it posted by well-meaning individuals who just don’t have all the facts.
Some of this dental misinformation is harmless, while other claims may lead people to make bad decisions. It’s April 1 – a day when many of us are fooled by friends and family playing pranks. But don’t be fooled by questionable information online. If you have questions about any dental information that you see online – or anywhere else – just give us a call at 828-355-5673.
Beware of Dangerous Dental Misinformation
Like most dentists, we’re concerned about the sheer volume of dental misinformation online. For example, fluoride is generally a good thing – which we know after many years of widespread usage and the approval of the American Dental Association (ADA). Yet there are many groups online that are devoted to removing fluoride from public water systems. Some of them present some questionable, and even scary, claims.
Earlier this year, Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming video services began airing a documentary that makes the claim that its director’s depression stems from a root canal procedure he had years before. More disturbingly, the film makes some scary connections between root canals and breast cancer.
The problem, as the ADA, American Association of Endodontists, and American Association of Dental Research have all pointed out, is that the cancer claims date back to widely discredited research conducted in the 1920s. Since then, other researchers have been unable to duplicate the results from the original experiment.
These claims aren’t backed up by evidence or science. Worse, they may lead people to avoid getting a root canal. Some teeth are too damaged to be saved by the procedure. In many cases, though, you can avoid extracting an infected tooth by undergoing root canal therapy.
In most instances, keeping your natural tooth structure in place is preferable to extraction. That’s because you’ll begin losing bone density in your jaw when you lose a tooth. Not only that, but your remaining teeth tend to shift out of place
There’s No Harm – and May Be Some Good – in Oil Pulling
In contrast, there is lots of advice online about home oral hygiene practices like oil pulling. Many of these practices aren’t harmful, even if they may not yield all of the promised benefits. Oil pulling has been around for at least 3,000 years. Practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine believe it can cure 30 different diseases. Interest in the practice grew when a Russian physician wrote about health benefits associated with it in the 1990s.
Some dentists are converts. Dr. Mark Burhenne, the California dentist who created the Ask the Dentist website, has incorporated oil pulling into his oral hygiene routine. He finds it offers numerous benefits because it helps reduce “bad” bacteria in the mouth while not affecting “good” bacteria. Eliminating bad bacteria in your mouth is a good thing, because it’s what causes tooth decay and gum disease.
Writing about it on his site, he stresses that oil pulling is a supplement not a substitute for daily brushing and flossing.
If you’re interested in trying oil pulling, feel free to give it a try. Just be aware that it may not do everything that some folks online say it can. For instance, while the practice may help fight bad breath and does show promise in preventing decay, it won’t make your teeth whiter.
If you’re interested, Dr. Burhenne offers some tips. He recommends using cold-pressed organic oil, preferably coconut oil. Again, don’t stop brushing or flossing. He also suggests:
- Pulling oil after you brush your teeth – rather than before as some sources recommend.
- Using about a tablespoon of oil.
- Swishing it around your mouth for one to three minutes – not the 20 minutes you see mentioned by some others.
- Discarding it in the trash, not into a sink or toilet. It can harden and cause plumbing problems over time.
Read something online you’re not sure about? Talk to us to find out if it’s dental misinformation. Call Appalachian Dental Care at 828-355-5673 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.