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The Truth Behind Some Dental Urban Legends: 1800Dentist.com

Urban legends have been part of the American storytelling tradition for decades. Unlike other folklore or tall tales, urban legends are generally believed to be true by the storyteller and regardless of the harrowing tale shared: they must be taken with a grain of salt, as the stories are mostly unsubstantiated. There are urban legends regarding men in bunny suits with axes, parked lovers being taunted by hooked-handed maniacs, dental care and dentistry.1-800-DENTIST is here to set the record straight on the latter.

Myth: George Washington Wore Wooden Teeth

During his lifetime, the nation's first president, George Washington, was a busy guy. Legend has it that Washington skipped a silver dollar across the Potomac River, cut down cherry trees, lead America to victory over the Brits in the American Revolutionary War and wore false teeth (AKA dentures) made of wood. Historians dedicated to unraveling the truth behind the man, have concluded that the great leader did wear false teeth, but wood had very little to do with it.

The truth is Washington had many fine attributes, but dental health was not one of them. Historical records have shown that Washington had dental problems for a majority of his life. Documentation has shown that he lost his first permanent tooth by the time he was 22, and by the time he entered office, missing teeth outnumbered the number of teeth present. As a result, Washington wore false teeth, but his devices were constructed out of material like animal bones, human teeth and gold. That fact was determined courtesy of scientists in 2005 that used lasers to scan some of his famous choppers.


Myth: Lucille Ball's Dental Work Picked Up Radio Frequency

Lucille Ball was a spunky redhead that earned the auspicious title of being the first woman of comedy. Ball was a comedienne, actress from film, television, stage and radio, model, and an executive in both film and television. According to her own words, she also was a heroin as she broke up a Japanese spy ring circa World War II and the radio transmissions she picked up courtesy of her dental work was how she did it.

Snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/fillings.asp), a site dedicated to reporting and dispelling urban legends, reported on her 1942 spy and dental work tale. Ball was returning to her ranch in the San Fernando Valley after spending some time getting her tooth decay treated at her dental office. She had gotten temporary fillings made of lead and thought she had heard music despite not turning on the radio for her trip. She recounted her experience to her buddy, Buster Keaton and he suggested that her dental work was picking up radio frequencies. Keaton reported that he had known of someone else who had experienced the same fate. The both laughed it off and disregarded the incident for the time being.

One week later, Ball was driving on a similar route and during this road trip she also picked up radio signals. This time, music was not being heard, instead it was the rhythmic tapping associated with Morse code. Ball reported this incident to the security team at MGM studies who in turn shared her tip with a government agency. The actress claimed that the agency followed up on her report, which unearthed a Japanese spy cell using an underground radio station to transmit their secret wartime plans. Her fillings applied by her dentist reportedly picked up those signals.

Myth: Coca-Cola Dissolves Teeth

Having a "Coke and a Smile," was a common American past time for decades and eventually an urban legend evolved about the refreshing treat. For decades, people have believed that leaving a tooth in a bowl of Coke would completely dissolve the tooth enamel and the device overnight. While the beverage is not the best choice for dental health, the toxic effects of Coke have been greatly exaggerated.

The popular TV show, Mythbusters tested out the rumor and while soaking a tooth in Coke did not completely dissolve a tooth,tooth-staining and dental erosion did start to occur. Like many soft drinks, Coke is filled with sugar and acids. Both those compounds can negatively impact dental health, but since most people do not take a sip of cola and hold it in their mouths for a full 24-hours, the risk is not as great as the urban legend reports.

Patients looking for a skilled dental hygiene can count on 1-800-DENTIST to assist with the task.

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