Cleaning up – and cleaning up after – misconceptionsNews
Posted by: The Probe 24th April 2020
Around 4 in 10 adults in England and Wales don’t attend regular check-ups.[i] Many only go when something has gone badly wrong. This is seemingly at odds with how much focus many people otherwise put on their health and appearance.
We often consider dental anxiety as the biggest motivator for non-attendance, but it isn’t the only reason. One demographic we need to ensure is being reached are those in their 20s and 30s. It’s a time in people’s lives when they’ve generally left home, are still on relatively low earnings compared to later in life, and will for the most part not have developed severe oral health problems. Many in this age group can slip into non-attendance, seeing it as a corner they can cut in their busy lives. Young adults who never previously had notable dental problems, may be particularly likely to feel a false sense of security and fall into this trap. However, skipping check-ups is false economy. The relative time and expense of a regular check-up to ensure everything is in order, is trivial compared to the damage that can take hold in a just few unobserved years, which can then require invasive and expensive treatment. Among those who only attend when they have trouble with their teeth, the most frequently given reason is that they thought it was pointless unless they were actively experiencing a problem.[ii] It is critical that patients understand how seeing their dentist regularly helps to prevent oral health problems.
We live in a time where more information is easily available than at any other point in human history. Most of us are more or less permanently connected to the internet, and it’s a genuine challenge to type a question or topic into a search engine and not find anything. Yet for every pearl of verifiable, well-researched information, there is a deluge of opinions, conspiracies, scams and falsehoods. The public’s ability to distinguish between sources and vet them, particularly in medical fields that require specialist knowledge, may be a little lacking.
Rumours and scaremongering run rampant across social media, often spread by well-meaning but all too credulous individuals. Some jump to the other extreme, becoming paranoid about established facts and diving deep into conspiracies. Alternative medicines and treatments that appeal to those who distrust established science and healthcare are everywhere.
While people are entitled to their own beliefs, there can be dangerous real-world repercussions when people’s health is involved. For example, despite considerable efforts on the part of the medical community, the numbers of people choosing to leave their children unvaccinated continue to rise – commonly due to dangerous misinformation spread through social media and other channels.[iii]
Many people have gotten the message that excessive sugar is bad for them and for their teeth. However, awareness is still poor around acid erosion. Sugar-free soft drinks can still contribute to plaque formation and dental erosion, as well as causing caries.[iv]
Soft drinks should generally be avoided, but if patients insist on drinking them, they should not drink them when thirsty. When our mouth is drier, the protective effects of saliva are correspondingly lessened. Moreover, when we’re thirsty, we drink more. Patients should be encouraged to drink water when they are thirsty, so they don’t condition themselves to reach for sweet beverages.
Patients also need to be cautious about health trends and gimmicks. For example, dinking lemon in hot water is gaining popularity and being ascribed with all sorts of benefits. Unfortunately, lemon juice is very acidic, so doing this regularly is potentially harmful. Many are drinking the concoction first thing in the morning, then brushing their teeth. While patients certainly shouldn’t be discouraged from regularly brushing, they do need to be careful about doing so shortly after exposing their teeth to acidic food and drink.
A dangerous misconception that many people have is that “if it’s natural it can’t hurt you” or that “natural” products are inherently benign. People mistrustful of “chemicals” sometimes turn to products such as apple cider vinegar to clean and whiten their teeth. Websites emblazoned with medical-style graphics and respectable sounding names frequently push such methods, yet in reality, following their advice could cause catastrophic dental erosion and general harm. Apple cider vinegar is good for descaling a kettle – not teeth.
Where patients have been led astray and require restorative work, providing excellent care can help reinforce the value of professional dentistry. Sourcing reliable, high-quality equipment and materials is just as important as learning to source information. Stabilok Dentine Pins from Fairfax Dental are as good as it gets. They separate at the shearing-neck of the pin, ensuring reliability. Each and every Stabilok pin comes in its own closed compartment – no fiddling around, no confusion and minimised potential for mistakes. A system is only as good as its weakest part. With Stabilok you are getting the gold standard when it comes to dentine pins.
By helping patients better understand oral health care and by correcting misconceptions, we can help prevent a great deal of dental damage and decay. Education is key. However, it is just as important for professionals to have the knowledge and quality products needed to restore patients’ oral health if they are led astray.
For more information, please call 0208 947 6464
Author Marjan Davasaz, Managing Director
[i] Hill K., Chadwick B., Freeman R., O’Sullivan I., Murray J. Adult dental health survey 2009: relationships between dental attendance patterns, oral health behaviour and the current barriers to dental care. British Dental Journal. 2013; 214(1): 25-32. https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj.2012.1176 January 17, 2020
[ii] Nuttall N., Bradnock G., White D., Morris J., Nunn J. Dental attendance in 1998 and implications for the future. British Dental Journal. 2001; 190(4): 177-182. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11270384 January 17, 2020.
[iii] Public Health England. Childhood vaccination coverage statistics – England 2018-19. NHS Digital. 2019. https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-immunisation-statistics/england-2018-19 January 17, 2019.
[iv] Giacaman R., Pailahaul V., Díaz-Garrido N. Cariogenicity induced by commercial carbonated beverages in an experimental biofilm-caries model. European Journal of Dentistry. 2018; 12(1): 27-35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5883472/ January 17, 2020.
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