Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 12-01-2022
There are many myths and misconceptions about oral hygiene that can lead you astray, thus resulting in damage to your teeth and gums. Let’s investigate 12 common dental myths and set the record straight.
Myth #1: Brushing your teeth really hard will make them cleaner and healthier
It’s easy to think that by brushing your teeth really hard, you’re keeping them healthy. In reality, this does more harm than good. Overly vigorous brushing can wear down the enamel that surrounds your teeth and cause your gums to recede. (The enamel is the hard outer layer that covers your teeth and protects them from cavities, so you do not want to damage it.) You should always opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush over one that is medium or firm.
Myth #2: You don’t need to floss
Flossing is a key component of your oral health. Daily flossing combats the buildup of plaque in between your teeth that can be missed by just brushing alone.
Myth #3: If flossing causes your teeth to bleed, then don’t floss
Irregular flossing could be why your gums are bleeding! When you neglect to floss consistently, plaque and bacteria build-up. Eventually, your gums become inflamed and once this happens, they will bleed easily. This does not mean you should stop flossing; rather, it means you must floss far more. As you develop your flossing habit, your gums should stop bleeding.
Myth #4: You should use an alcohol-based mouthwash after every meal
Wrong! When you use a mouthwash that has an alcohol base, you change the very ecology of your mouth. The mouth is full of bacteria, and not all of it is bad.
The alcohol in mouthwash can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria; it destroys all of it. If you use alcohol-based mouthwash too frequently, it can lead to ulcers, ruin cavity fillings, and increase your risk of oral cancer.
Myth #5: Cavities are caused by sugar
It’s common to blame cavities exclusively on sugar. Sweet treats are often thought to be the main culprit behind tooth decay. While sugar is definitely a large contributor to the problem, it’s not the sole cause.
Carbohydrates can also contribute to the formation of cavities. While in the mouth, carbohydrates break down into sugars that stick to the teeth. Ultimately, tooth decay is a result of bacteria, and that bacteria feed on sugar and carbs.
Myth #6: White teeth are healthy teeth
Teeth are naturally white, but a change in colour doesn’t always indicate that something is wrong. Certain food and drinks can stain teeth, as can some medications. Ageing can also cause teeth to darken in colour. Smoking is one example of an unhealthy habit that often turns teeth yellow.
When it comes to teeth whitening, it can pose risks. Many over-the-counter whitening products are bad for the natural enamel that coats your teeth because they contain acidic ingredients. Hydrogen peroxide, which is often found in these products, pierces through the enamel and can lead to tooth sensitivity.
If you want to whiten your teeth, consult with your dentist and follow their advice. There are safe teeth-whitening procedures that won’t damage your enamel.
Myth #7: If your teeth are sensitive, then you’ve worn down the enamel
Tooth sensitivity is often brought on by a wearing down of the enamel. Once this protective layer is weakened, chances are that you will begin to experience pain. That being said, sensitive teeth can also be brought on by a range of things including gum disease.
Myth #8: Poor oral health won’t impact your overall health
Problems in the mouth don’t end there. Conditions like gum disease can impact your heart and lungs. It also places you at a higher risk for issues such as hypertension, diabetes, and dementia.
Myth #9: If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t go to the dentist
Keeping your regular dental appointments is just as important when you’re pregnant as it is at all other times in life. Routine check-ups and cleanings are perfectly safe for pregnant women. The hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy can actually increase the risk of gingivitis.
Myth #10: You don’t have to worry about the health of your child’s primary teeth
The primary teeth (or baby teeth) aren’t permanent, so do you really have to worry about them? The short answer is yes. The development of your child’s permanent teeth is heavily influenced by the health of their primary teeth. One of the roles of the primary teeth is to guide the permanent teeth into the right positions!
Myth #11: As long as you start brushing and flossing before your dental appointment, your dentist won’t be any wiser
If you’re hoping to fool your dentist into thinking you have a rigorous oral hygiene practice, then you’re out of luck. Dentists can easily spot a person who brushes and flosses regularly, and someone who doesn’t. Poor and infrequent brushing and flossing lead hard tartar forming on your teeth—and it can only be removed by a professional cleaning from your dentist. A buildup of plaque and tartar, along with inflammation, is a clear sign that you haven’t been looking after your teeth.
Myth #12: You only have to visit the dentist if something is bothering you
When you wait until you’re in pain to visit your dentist, then you may find yourself in a lot of trouble that could have otherwise been avoided. Many dental issues are much easier to treat or reverse when caught early. Cavities and conditions like gum disease are usually painless for a very long time, so you won’t know if something is wrong.
Once you begin feeling pain, the issue has already worsened. You might find yourself needing a root canal or tooth extraction for something that could have been treated with less invasive and severe measures.
Fact: Dental Check-Ups are Crucial for Your Oral Health
Maintaining your oral health means getting the facts, ignoring the myths, and visiting your dentist on a regular basis. A professional dental cleaning will remove any plaque and tartar that has built up, as well as screen for diseases. For a healthy mouth, brush, floss, and keep your appointments at Milltown Dental.