Good oral health is an incredibly important facet of your overall well-being. Unfortunately, it’s also a booming business, and that means there are many different people and organizations out there looking to profit off your fear of getting cavities and other dental issues and your desire to have a beautiful, healthy, sparkling smile.
As a result, there are more than a few questionable practices out there that are supposedly good for your teeth but, in actuality, don’t do much to preserve your dental health. In fact, in some instances, these practices might do more harm than good, making them no better than complete scams! Here are a few of the most questionable products and practices out there, so you can learn how to stay safe from teeth care scams and preserve your oral health.
There’s No Evidence that Oil Pulling Works
One of the newest trends in alternative dental care – a realm already bristling with oddball practices and snake-oil salesmen touting their useless and even harmful wares – is oil pulling. The practice involves swishing oil in the mouth in order to reap dental health benefits, and proponents swear oil pulling can result in whiter teeth, better oral health, and even greater levels of overall health as well.
Of course, a closer examination of oil pulling has revealed that there’s absolutely zero evidence that oil pulling does anything beneficial for your teeth. Despite this, alternative health companies have been quick to jump on the oil pulling bandwagon by producing special products that are touted as “dental health blends” that are ideal for tooth care. Throwing away hard-earned cash on these products isn’t going to help your teeth get any whiter, or cleaner – and relying on oil pulling instead of regular brushing can even make your dental health worse!
No, Fluoride Is Not Killing You Or Your Children
Nothing brings out the conspiracy theorists like the issue of fluoride. A naturally occurring substance that’s already present in trace amounts in virtually every water supply on the planet, fluoride has been proven to be an important nutrient for building healthy teeth and preventing tooth decay – especially in children.
Yet despite this, many people are convinced that fluoride is dangerous. Unfounded claims that fluoride causes cancer or that it lowers IQ in children are unsubstantiated and based on poorly-conducted research, and anyone who markets expensive dental care products that don’t include fluoride isn’t just selling you a bill of goods, they’re robbing you of an essential component of dental care.
Activated Charcoal Isn’t Going to Brighten Your Teeth
There’s no denying that activated charcoal has purifying effects. It’s used in medical situations for treating cases of poisoning, for example, and charcoal filters in air purifiers do trap and eliminate toxins you would otherwise breathe in. Yet the new push towards activated charcoal products for teeth whitening – either in toothpaste or in capsules mixed with water – isn’t going to do you a lick of good.
There’s not a shred of evidence that brushing with activated charcoal whitens your teeth. In fact, most dentists are concerned about the practice, as the naturally abrasive nature of the substance can end up damaging tooth enamel if used too often or too vigorously. In other words, don’t bother buying a tooth whitening product that relies on activated charcoal – instead, go with clinically-proven options. Talk to your dentist for a good idea of the best way to whiten your teeth.
You Don’t Need Your Silver Fillings Removed
If you’re a bit older, you likely have some so-called “silver” fillings. These fillings are made from an amalgam of silver, tin, copper, and, yes, mercury. But before you should think twice before losing your mind about having mercury embedded in your teeth – and begin looking for a less-than-reputable dentist to conduct an expensive procedure to remove these amalgam fillings and replace them with something else.
The truth is that the Food and Drug Administration has cleared amalgam fillings for anyone over the age of 6 years old. Not only that, but removing an amalgam filling in order to replace it with a more modern, mercury-free one has its own risks; drilling the amalgam out almost always necessitates taking some of the healthy tooth out as well, and in cases where the tooth is on the thinner side this can actually crack the entire tooth. Your best bet? Don’t give yourself a bigger problem – and an even bigger dentist bill – by trying to solve an issue that doesn’t exist.
Beware Creative Diagnosis
A growing trend in some dental practices – according to experts from the American Dental Association, is something that’s come to be called “creative diagnosis.” Simply put, it’s finding dental problems in patients that aren’t necessarily there – problems that require expensive procedures, sometimes even surgeries, to “correct.”
If something sounds suspicious, or if you’ve been going to regular checkups without incident for some time only to be presented with a questionable diagnosis, don’t just settle for what you’ve been told. Get a second opinion from another dental practitioner to ensure you’re not getting the wool pulled over your eyes. In many cases, these “problems” will miraculously disappear when you visit a more reputable dentist!
The Final Word
There are a number of teeth care scams you can encounter, from companies touting overpriced questionable over-the-counter dental health products that do more harm than good to dentists that play fast and loose with what types of treatment you need in order to increase their own bottom line. What’s important is that you make sure you educate yourself on any possible scams before you fall victim to them.
Doing so protects more than your wallet – it protects your overall dental health or the health of your children, as well as your sanity. If you ever have any questions about an oral health practice or procedure, turn to the professionals and contact a trusted dental practice or seek a second opinion from another one. You’ve only got one smile, so protect it!