You know your oral health is very important and you want to take care of your teeth as best as possible. However, there are quite a few dental myths circulating that may be impeding your oral healthcare. Here are seven common dental myths and what’s actually true:
- “Brushing harder gives you cleaner teeth.”
- “Candy causes tooth decay.”
- “It doesn’t matter when you brush your teeth.”
- “Diet sodas are safe because there’s no sugar.”
- “Baby teeth aren’t important because they will fall out.”
- “Oral health doesn’t affect the rest of the body.”
- “You only need to visit the dentist if your teeth hurt.”
Doesn’t brushing harder get all the gunk off your teeth more effectively? What can actually end up happening is damage to the outer protective layer of your teeth, called the enamel. And weak enamel makes teeth more vulnerable to decay. So brushing harder and/or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can damage your teeth, as well as irritate your gums. Stick with gently brushing using a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day for two minutes each time.
This myth is parallel to the truth, but it misses the actual cause of decay. Even if you didn’t eat any candy, you still eat carbohydrates, which are macronutrients necessary for energy and proper body function. Carbs are sugars and bacteria in your mouth love to eat them. Well-fed bacteria accumulate into a sticky biofilm called plaque and produce toxins and acidic byproducts that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
You probably know you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, but did you know the time of day matters? At night, your mouth’s saliva flow is reduced, which means it’s easier for plaque to accumulate on your teeth. If you haven’t brushed your teeth before bed, any food you ate sits on your teeth and your oral bacteria feasts all night, producing enamel-destroying acids. Brushing in the morning is also important to get rid of the much-dreaded morning breath and the film of bacteria that grew on your teeth overnight.
Many people think that diet sodas are a better choice for oral health than regular soda. However, diet sodas are still full of carbonation, which is acidic, and are usually slowly sipped throughout the day. Persistent exposure to all that acid will slowly erode your tooth enamel, increasing your risk of decay and sensitivity.
Getting a child to keep up with good oral health habits can be a challenge. Some parents are tempted to “pick their battles” and forgo hounding their kids about oral hygiene. Those teeth will just fall out anyway, right? That’s true, but the health of baby teeth is very important! If not cared for, baby teeth will decay, get infected, and fall out before they’re ready, all which can negatively affect the growth and alignment of the underlying permanent teeth. Additionally, baby teeth are critical for healthy eating and the development of your child’s speech. The dental habits kids develop now also set the foundation for how they care for their adult teeth. Adopting a good brushing and flossing routine and bringing them to regular dental appointments now will help them take better care of their teeth as they grow up.
Because people go to a dentist for their teeth and other kinds of doctors for the rest of their body, it’s a common dental myth that oral health is separate from your overall health. However, if your teeth aren’t healthy, it has a negative impact on the rest of your body. If you don’t care for your oral health, infections can develop and these can spread, even threatening your life. There’s also a link between gum disease and diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Putting off oral care can have serious consequences for your entire well-being.
This is one of the most dangerous dental myths. While it’s true you should always seek emergency dental care if something is wrong, prevention is the best way to care for your oral health. At biannual cleanings and exams, our expert team can catch problems before they develop into something serious and painful, saving you both money and time. If it’s been a while since you saw a dentist–no matter how your teeth currently feel–please make an appointment with us at Sean Abidin, DDS & Vanessa Cao, DDS as soon as you can!