Toothy myths debunked

Some older adults have misconceptions about oral health. Dr Ansgar Cheng, a prosthodontist at Specialist Dental Group, debunks some common myths.

I will lose my teeth as I age.

Fact: Poor oral health can lead to the loss of teeth. However, research has shown that the loss of teeth is avoidable. It is also not unrealistic to expect to have good teeth for life if you take good care of them. The easy way to give your teeth the attention they deserve is to make it a habit to brush them twice a day, for two minutes each time.

I am already so old. It's okay if I forget to maintain oral hygiene.

Fact: Having older teeth does not mean they need less maintenance. In fact, more tender loving care should be given to older teeth. As you age, your teeth go through more wear and tear, making them more vulnerable to getting chipped or broken. Also, seniors become more prone to tooth decay because many medications (including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and asthma) can cause dry mouth. The lack of saliva impairs your ability to fight the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Dental work is expensive. I see the dentist only when I cannot bear the pain anymore.

Fact: The procedures get expensive because many people see the dentist only when they are in pain and the problem has become serious. Unpleasant dental issues are mostly avoidable if they are treated early.

Joyce Teo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2016, with the headline 'Toothy myths debunked'. Print Edition | Subscribe