611 S. Haywood St. • Waynesville, NC 28786 | Pay Online »

Call us (828) 456-9007

Schedule an appointment

Dental Myths: DEBUNKED!

Patients frequently relay information that they have gleaned from an internet article or a Facebook post. While we all love a good conspiracy theory now and then, our practice bases treatment on time-tested science, 26 years of experience, and sound dental principles. Following are several common myths and untruths that we valiantly battle every day.

Dental X-Rays Cause Cancer

There has never been one documented case of cancer directly linked to dental x-rays.


But this story persists because of the use of radiation in x-rays. If this myth were true, each of us in the dental profession would be glowing or would have three mutated eyes. Clearly, that is not the case for most of us.

Dental x-rays are designed to use the lowest possible dose of radiation to achieve a diagnostic image. Countless dental conditions have been arrested early, before they became a major source of pain and discomfort for the patient through dental x-rays. And a few cases of cancer have been found upon routine x-ray examination as well. Poor diet, smoking, and inactivity are the most common causes of cancer.


Babies Suck Calcium from Mother’s Teeth

This is an old wives tale. Some pregnant women experience puffy gums due to the hormonal activity they are undergoing, which may lead to bleeding and sensitivity. This could result in inadequate brushing and flossing that results in cavities but is not due to the baby’s mineral sucking superpower. Bacteria erode calcium from the teeth due to their acidic waste products which are found on the teeth in the form of unremoved dental plaque. So, while it is convenient to blame this on an innocent baby, it is simply not true.


Fluoride is Rat Poison

Fluoride has never, and probably never will be used as rat poison. This myth arises from a clinical study where rats were given HUMONGOUS doses of fluoride. Out of 130 rats studied, 5 developed cancer.

In the human population, fluoride has been shown to prevent dental caries, which is the most common untreated dental disease, according to the World Health Organization.

We recommend use of a fluoride-containing toothpaste daily, as well as fluoride supplements for children on well water. Leave the cavities to the dirty rats in the study and those who push faulty science.


Root Canals Cause Cancer

This myth apparently originates in a 100-year-old study in which the author claimed root canal therapy left behind dead bone, bacteria, and inflammation, which was purported to cause cancer and a host of other problems.

Here again, there is no long-term data to prove this claim. In fact, root canal therapy has saved millions of teeth. Root canal therapy is used to remove diseased nerve tissue, which alleviates infection and inflammation in an abscessed tooth. Root canals have a success rate of approximately 95%, making them a very reliable procedure. Cancer is caused by poor diet, smoking, and inactivity, and in some cases, exposure to carcinogenic chemicals.


Make sure you are getting your information from qualified sources and not from click-bait articles on the internet. Your Dental Dream Team at Dr. Michael Gillespie’s office are trained in the latest technology from the best dental educators in the country. Don’t hesitate to speak with us about any dental concerns you may have. We’ll be happy to provide you with up-to-date information you can trust.

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS