The internet is a great place for discovering lots of interesting facts and information, but not all of it is true, and unfortunately, many dentistry myths continue to persist. Knowing what they are and understanding good dental practices will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. Best of all, you only need to set aside a few minutes each day.
Myth 1: Brushing Your Teeth Harder Will Get Them Cleaner
The truth is that brushing your teeth too hard could damage them irreversibly. Using a toothbrush that is too hard, or toothpaste that is too abrasive can wear away your tooth enamel and even your gums. Instead, make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste that isn’t abrasive. Choose a reputable brand of toothpaste and look for a make that has the American Dental Association seal of approval.
Myth 2: You Don’t Really Need to Floss
A while back there was an article that stated you didn’t need to floss for healthy gums. However, this goes against a practice that dentists know is effective in maintaining good dental health. Most dentists are horrified to learn that patients don’t floss regularly, even though many don’t! If you discuss the subject with your dentist, you will almost certainly find they believe firmly in daily flossing.
It makes perfect sense because each day a sticky layer of plaque gradually builds up over your teeth and in between them. The plaque contains bacteria which utilize leftover food particles for energy, and especially when food is trapped in between teeth and isn’t removed through brushing regularly. Flossing is the only way to reach plaque and food debris trapped in between your teeth and just below the gum line, and it only takes a few minutes each day. Your dentist can really tell when someone flosses regularly compared with the gums of someone who will only floss before their dental appointment. You cannot fool your dentist!
Myth 3: If You Chew Sugar-Free Gum You Don’t Need to Brush Your Teeth
If this were true, it would be good news for an awful lot of people, but unfortunately, it isn’t! Chewing sugar-free gum and especially gum that contains xylitol can help protect your teeth and gums because xylitol disrupts the formation of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Also, chewing gum stimulates saliva production which helps to wash away loose food particles, and it normalizes pH levels in the mouth. It is a good idea to chew gum after a meal and when acidity levels tend to be higher but chewing gum cannot replace a regular brushing and flossing routine. When you chew gum, it will not remove all the plaque and food debris from all your tooth surfaces. You still need to make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and that you floss once-a-day.
Myth 4: Bleeding Gums Can Heal If You Stop Brushing and Flossing for a Day or Two
It’s a common myth that bleeding gums are caused by brushing your teeth too hard. You can brush too hard, but it’s more likely that bleeding gums are due to inflammation and infection. Your gums can become infected and inflamed if your oral hygiene routine isn’t the best. Plaque and food debris buildup on tooth surfaces and especially in areas where toothbrush bristles cannot reach. The bacteria in plaque cause infection in the gum tissues, but the inflammation is caused when your body’s immune system tries to fight the infection. Failing to brush and floss your teeth for even just a day or two will only make things worse.
It’s far better to book an appointment with your dentist to find out why your gums are bleeding and if any treatment is required. Often, the very first signs of gum infection or gum disease, a condition which is called gingivitis can be treated by having your teeth cleaned professionally and by improving your brushing and flossing routine. A professional dental cleaning will remove plaque and tartar buildup so your gums can fight the infection more easily. Afterward, your hygienist can review your oral hygiene routine and can suggest ways to improve it. Make sure you follow their instructions carefully, even though daily flossing may initially make your gums bleed for a while. Persevering will soon result in healthier and stronger gums that no longer bleed.
Myth 5: Gum Disease Only Affects Your Mouth
Gum disease may begin in your mouth, but it is a problem that can affect your general health. Initially, the bacteria which cause gum disease are only confined to your mouth, but as the condition worsens it causes bleeding gums, allowing these bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, bacteria have the freedom to travel anywhere in your body, potentially worsening any existing health problems or increasing your risk of developing serious health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and possibly even some cancers. Unfortunately, the early signs of gum disease are easily ignored which is why your regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for good general health. If it’s been a while since you saw a dentist, pick up the phone or get online and schedule an appointment.
Myth 6: Whiter Teeth are Healthier Teeth
When you think about a beautiful white smile, it’s something that is often associated with youthfulness and good health so it’s hardly a surprise that lots of people believe that whiter teeth must be healthier too. Although teeth are naturally white, they can become darker because of foods and beverages that stain tooth enamel, or from taking certain medications. Teeth naturally darken with age but can still be perfectly healthy. Also, some people with extremely white teeth can still have dental problems including gum disease and tooth decay. Another potential problem is overusing whitening products in the mistaken belief that it will provide you with an even whiter and brighter smile. In fact, over bleaching your teeth can have the opposite effect, eventually causing your teeth to look gray and lifeless
If you do want a whiter smile, a dental checkup is essential, and afterward, your dentist can talk to you about ways to brighten your pearly whites using laser teeth whitening. It’s the safest and most effective way to ensure that your whiter teeth are healthier teeth too.