Dental health isn’t always as simple and straightforward as you think. With so many health gurus and fads popping up lately, people are bound to run into popular yet wrong misconceptions about oral health. While simple practices like daily brushing and flossing can do wonders for your teeth, harmful habits born out of myths and misconceptions are very much capable of doing serious damage to your oral health. Here are some common dental health myths to watch out for.
Myth #1: Harder Brushing Leads to Cleaner Teeth
Truth: Your teeth aren’t as tough as walls or floors. They’re just as susceptible to damage as any other part of your body. When you don’t handle your teeth with the gentle touch and care they need, they eventually become too weak and damaged for comfort.
A lot of people approach brushing as if it were like cleaning a kitchen floor. Many think that you only need to scrub hard to make all the stains come off. However, this actually does more harm than good for your oral and overall health. Brushing too hard strips away the enamel responsible for protecting the inner core of your teeth. It also irritates and damages the gums, which can eventually lead to gum recession—a condition where your gums pull back and expose tooth roots.
So, what should you do to keep your teeth clean instead? Simple! Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and stick to toothpastes with a healthy amount of fluoride. The safer and more gentle you are with your teeth, the less likely you are to suffer from weakened enamel and gum problems.
Myth #2: I Only Need to Avoid Sugary Sweets
Truth: Sugary biscuits, candy, and chocolate aren’t the main culprits responsible for cavities and other oral problems. It’s actually plaque and bacteria that are responsible for your dental health woes. Bacteria sticks to teeth, then multiplies as you go about your day. This bacteria grows stronger when you feed it sugar and starches from not just sweet snacks, but even everyday meals and snacks like potato chips and nachos. As harmful bacteria grows stronger from its daily diet of sugar and starch, it also produces acid compounds that erode enamel and increase your risk of cavities.
Does this mean you should forego eating entirely? No, of course not! All you need to do is follow some measures designed to keep your teeth in safe shape. Drink a glass of water after munching on sugary or starchy snacks. That way, you can rinse off harmful bacteria and dislodge food residue. It’s also good to bite smaller portions and use straws to lessen your teeth’s direct contact with harmful bacteria.
Try to find ways to increase your daily fluoride intake, too. See if your community has access to fluoridated water, and enhance your diet with fruits and vegetables full of fiber. You might also want to increase your dental durability and make room in your diet for bone-strengthening dairy.
Myth #3: Stop Brushing and Flossing When Your Gums Bleed
Truth: Flossing eliminates up to 80% of plaque responsible for periodontitis and other oral health problems, so don’t forget to do it every day! And if you’re concerned about your gums bleeding during your daily floss, you need not worry. Your gums should stop bleeding and eventually return to healthy shape after a few days of regular and proper flossing.
What causes our gums to bleed anyway? Harmful plaque build-up does. When we don’t floss as much as we should, plaque sticks to spaces where our toothbrush can’t reach, such as between our teeth. Eventually, this plaque spreads to the gums and causes inflammation.
The best at-home solution to this problem is daily flossing. It can mitigate oral problems before they turn worse and help your gums return to their normal shape. Of course, it’s also important to see your dentist if your gums don’t stop bleeding as that could be a sign of a deeper health problem.
Myth #4: I Can Substitute Daily Brushing
Truth: Nothing can replace daily brushing and flossing. While products like chewing gum and alcohol-free mouthwash are designed to help get rid of dirt and bacteria, they can’t substitute good oral hygiene habits.
Toothbrushes and floss are specially made to remove plaque, food residue, and harmful bacteria from all corners of your teeth. Brushing in particular helps supply teeth with much-needed fluoride. Compared to chewing gum and mouthwash, they are far more effective at cleaning and strengthening every inch of your teeth.
Myth #5: Only Old People Need to Worry About Their Teeth
Truth: Cavities and gum problems can strike at any age. In fact, painful cavities are the most common dental health problem among children! To avoid any early tooth loss and stress, don’t forget to maintain proper oral health even when you’re young. The earlier you protect your teeth, the less likely you are to suffer nasty oral problems when you’re older.
Myth #6: Oral and Overall Health Aren’t Connected
Truth: Every part of the body is connected in some way or another. Neglecting your oral hygiene poses serious consequences not only for your teeth and gums, but also for your overall health. Harmful bacteria from plaque can enter the bloodstream and result in systemic diseases, such as heart disease and bacterial pneumonia. However, with daily brushing and flossing, you are less likely to suffer from serious health issues.
Myth #7: All Toothpaste Brands Work Well
Truth: Toothpaste is essential to good oral hygiene. However, it’s not a good idea to settle for just any brand of toothpaste. To ensure that your teeth stay strong and healthy for years to come, you should always choose brands that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. These brands are always guaranteed to have fluoride—which is essential to protection from painful cavities—and other ingredients that can contribute to a healthy mouth.
Myth #8: You Don’t Need to See the Dentist If Your Teeth Don’t Hurt
Truth: Dental visits are meant for more than just repairing cracks and swollen gums. They are also essential to preventing nasty oral health problems. It’s important to visit your dentist every 6 months for cleanings, and to schedule regular visits whenever possible. Your dentist will be able to remove dirt and plaque left behind by your toothbrush, and check for signs of oral wear-and-tear that you might have missed.
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