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Answers to Strange Oral Health Questions

There are a lot of dental myths out there - and sometimes it can be hard to tell fact from fiction. Many of us have probably heard the common myth that if you swallow your chewing gum it will stay in your stomach for seven years. Thankfully, this myth isn’t true. While it is true that the stomach cannot break down or digest the resin compound used in gum, that doesn’t mean the gum stays in your stomach. In reality, your swallowed gum just gets sent down your intestines with the rest of the digested food in your stomach, and exits your body at the same time. 

While we don’t recommend swallowing a lot of gum at once (it can cause intestinal blockages in small children), a few pieces should be fine. Just make sure it’s sugarless gum, because sugar-sweetened gum is more harmful to your teeth than it ever will be to your digestive system.

Read on for more truths about oral health!

Can you really get periodontal disease from your family, partner or pet?

You may have heard that sharing toothbrushes or cups can pass along periodontal disease, and that parents should never share these items with their children. You may have even heard that getting a "kiss" on the mouth from a pet can pass along the bacteria that causes gum disease. But is this true? Yes! It’s true. 

You can pass along the oral bacteria responsible for gum disease from human to human as well as from animal to human. And it goes both ways - you can also give your pet gum disease if you have the bacteria and he doesn’t! So, the next time your dog moves in for a big slobbery smooch, give him a cheek instead. We promise he won’t take it personally. If he does manage to take you by surprise and get saliva near your mouth, brush your teeth as soon as possible, and maybe give Fido a dental chew or a quick brushing for good measure.

Do toothbrush caps protect your brush from airborne bacteria?

While it is true that toothbrush covers can protect your toothbrush from dust and particles floating in the air in your bathroom, as well as keeping it free of dirt and debris while you travel, that doesn’t mean toothbrush covers are a good idea for regular use. In fact, they may actually be making your brush dirtier than leaving them exposed to the air! Why? Because that toothbrush cover is trapping in bacteria and promoting a fertile ground to grow new forms of bacteria. 

A better idea is to buy a pack of disposable fabric antimicrobial toothbrush shields and put on a new one each time you brush.

Can toothbrush bristles cause appendicitis?

You may have heard that swallowing your toothbrush bristles can trigger appendicitis. It seems pretty far-fetched, but believe it or not, this is true! Though it rarely happens, you can rupture your appendix if you swallow toothbrush bristles, small bones found in fish and even pins (ouch!). A good way to prevent this is to make sure you are changing your toothbrush or brush head every three months, or sooner if the bristles are becoming loose or bent.

Toothpicks are the most commonly choked-on item in America.

Unfortunately, this is true. In fact, about 9,000 people a year choke on wooden toothpicks. Got a food particle stuck in your teeth? Save the toothpicks for making sure your cake is fully baked and reach for dental floss instead to clean between your teeth. After all, there’s a good reason you don’t hear about people choking on dental floss.

Tooth decay is the second most common disease in the world.

Sadly, this is also true. The only disease that’s more common than tooth decay is the common cold. There are over 200 types of common cold, with the most frequent offender being the rhinovirus, which accounts for more than half of all colds. In America, the Centers for Disease Control estimates we suffer from 2 billion colds a year! 

So, how common is tooth decay by proxy? It’s so common that an astonishing 92 percent of adults have tooth decay in at least one tooth. It’s also the most common chronic disease in children – more common than the common cold, and five times more common than asthma.

Got more questions about your oral health, or are you ready to schedule your next appointment? Give Dr. Hill’s office a call at 469-640-9550.

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