9 Bogus Myths about Dental Care That You Shouldn’t Believe

Unravel the biggest myths and misconceptions about dental health and dental care. Find out what you should NOT be doing if you want to maintain a healthy smile.

dental myths and tips

 

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Among adults in developed nations, the general attitude to dental health is simple. We need to brush and floss regularly. If there is pain, we need to go to the dentist. While there is certainly nothing wrong with either of these principles, it simply isn’t true that a dentist is redundant until pain emerges. You must not avoid dental appointments, just because your teeth do not hurt.

For a start, this is not a very good prevention method. And if you, like most people, are very keen to avoid toothache because you know how traumatic it can be, there is only one option. As they say, a good defense is a good offense. To keep teeth healthy and hold aches and pains at bay, you need to be seeing the dentist at least once a year (preferably twice or more).

This is one of the most pervasive myths about dental care, but it is certainly not the only one. There are lots of misconceptions and inaccuracies floating around about dental procedures, treatment safety measures, repair work, overall oral health, and even brushing and flossing. Ultimately, while we all think that we know our teeth quite well, the reality is a little different.

So, it is time to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding dental care and dental health. It is time to get to the bottom of the myths and start digging up some nuggets of wisdom. It is important to remember that knowledge is power. If you feel anxious or afraid of visiting the dentist, it really can help to find out a little more about it. The majority of dental phobias are based on fear of the unknown, so why not find out for yourself whether dental care is really as scary as it seems (spoiler alert – it really isn’t!)

This guide to some of the most common myths about dental care will help you get to grips with the real picture.

  1. Baby Teeth Do Not Need Dental Check-Ups

We will start with one of the most harmful misconceptions of all. The idea that very young children, who have not yet developed adult teeth, do not require regular dental check-ups is simply inaccurate. And worse still, it can lead to serious dental problems. Yes, structural damage to baby teeth is technically temporary. If tooth decay eats away at a tooth, it can still be replaced with an entirely healthy adult replacement.

However, there are so many reasons why a child should never be left to suffer with a cavity or an infection. For a start, they can be very painful. If regular appointments with the dentist can prevent a child from ever being in pain with their teeth, this is a good enough reason to keep up with them. Also, decay and damage affects the gums too – and they don’t get replaced.

The recommendation is for babies to be taken for their first dental appointment as soon as their first baby teeth begin to emerge. For most, these check-ups will be nothing but routine. The dentist will perform a quick examination, confirm that everything is as it should be, and send you on your way. If nothing else, they are a great opportunity to instil good dental health habits in a child from an early age.

  1. Bleeding Gums Are Nothing Serious

This is a very common misconception. It is so common, in fact, that a number of governments around the world have funded high profile advertising campaigns to try and raise awareness of the issue. Just because bleeding gums (gingivitis) occurs in a huge amount of people, this does not mean that it should be ignored or treated as a minor niggle. It may be a symptom of an underlying infection or a sign of degenerative tooth loss.

If you experience bleeding from the gums, you must book a dental appointment as soon as possible. In the interim, while you are waiting to see the dentist, you are advised to brush and floss twice a day. The ironic thing is that gingivitis can be easily fixed as long as it has not been left to do any permanent damage. So, do not be tempted to ignore it. ‘Fess up to your dentist and they can help you to make sure that the problem does not progress.

You will not necessarily be in pain just because your gums are bleeding, so do not use this as a signifier for whether or not you should consult a dentist either. Over time, however, untreated gingivitis leads to tenderness, soreness, and pain in and around the mouth. It may be difficult to eat certain foods. If left long enough, your teeth will begin to degenerate and this is when the point of no return arrives. It is imperative that you reverse the impact of bleeding gums before this happens.

  1. Gums Only Bleed Because You Brush Too Hard

It is not inaccurate to say that brushing too aggressively can damage gums and make them bleed, but the tissue in this area is fairly robust. Generally speaking, it will hold up to vigorous brushing and flossing unless there is an underlying problem. This is the thing to remember. If your gums are bleeding, it is probably because there is an infection in the tissue.

As aforementioned, this can be cleared up quickly, but you need to visit the dentist as soon as you notice that it has become a persistent issue. If you notice blood in the sink or on your toothbrush once, keep an eye out for signs of gingivitis over the next 4-5 days. If your teeth continue to bleed, you need to seek treatment.

And if you are worried about brushing your teeth too hard, you can relax. While you certainly don’t need to be applying a huge amount of pressure, most people are pretty good at this. The only common mistake is assuming that brushing harder is a substitute for brushing for the recommended three minutes. It is not, so do not brush aggressively because you want to speed up the process. Your patience will be rewarded.

  1. All Toothpaste Brands Are the Same

On the whole, this is correct. There is very little difference between many of the mainstream toothpaste brands on the market, because they all contain the same ingredients. However, specialist toothpastes – particularly those designed for people with allergies and sensitivities – have a slightly different ‘recipe,’ so to speak.

They remove and replace the substances that most commonly cause allergic reactions. Now, if you are surprised to hear that toothpaste can be an irritant, you might want to check your own mouth for signs of a reaction. The most obvious symptom is peeling skin on the inside of the cheeks. This is known as ‘mucosal sloughing’ and it occurs when an irritant burns away some of the cells.

This kind of reaction cannot harm you, nor does it ordinarily cause pain, but you should still switch to a kinder toothpaste formula if you think that you might have an allergy. Your mouth is visibly and physically crying out for a change, if you are experiencing mucosal sloughing, so listen to its needs and pick up a gentler product. For more advice on toothpaste allergies, consult your dental professional.  

  1. Male and Female Teeth Have the Same Needs

Fundamentally, male and female teeth do need the same things. Regular brushing and flossing, regular dental appointments, and a healthy diet and lifestyle. The difference is that female teeth come under much greater strain than male teeth, so it is even more important for ladies to care for their mouths.

The idea that hormones might have a turbulent impact on far flung areas of the body is hardly a new one. These magic (but mighty troublesome) chemicals have a way of influencing everything from the size of feet to the smell of sweat and the speed at which fingernails grow. So, it really should come as no surprise to find that they also have an impact on dental health.

At various points within the menstrual cycle, the mouth is at a greater risk of gingivitis and infection. This is because hormones levels are soaring and then falling again, only to rise and drop again later. This increased risk is, fortunately, not something that needs to be proactively worried about, as long as you take good care of your teeth and gums all through the month.

  1. Fruit Juices Are Really Healthy

In many ways, this is a bit of a cruel reality. We know that fruit juice contains lots of vitamins and is very good for the body. The problem is that it is also filled with naturally occurring sugars. These sugars are what turn into plaque, attach themselves to tooth enamel, and eventually wear away at its surface. In enough time, they eat right through the tooth and create infections and cavities.

So, what are you supposed if you love fruit juice? What if your doctor is quite keen for you to continue drinking lots of fruit juice, because it is good for your immune system? Well, the best thing to do is to restrict your enjoyment of fruit juices to mealtimes. That way, the plaque will do less damage because it is being mixed up with other substances that you were always going to consume anyway.

As studies have now shown, snacking and grazing on foods is much more harmful for the teeth than enjoying a few large meals, throughout the day. So, if you cannot bear to go without your apple or orange juice in the morning, make sure that you eat breakfast too. The same rules apply to evening beverages; restrict juices to the dining table and resist the urge to bring them to bed and continue sipping.

  1. Medications Do Not Affect Oral Health

As the mouth is such a delicate and sensitive ecosystem, there are lots of different things that can upset its balance. One of the most common is prescription medications. The majority come with a minor side effect – dry mouth. And while dry mouth is no big deal, as far as everyday life and health goes, it can play havoc with the teeth.

This is something that happens slowly, so it can be tricky to notice that anything is amiss at all until your teeth start to ache and your gums feel sore. The saliva in our mouths is very important, because it contains mild antibacterial properties and it washes away much of the plaque that sticks to the tooth enamel.

Without it, the bacteria is allowed to run riot and develop into decay and cavities at a much faster rate. This can, to some degree, be alleviated with plenty of fresh drinking water, but it is also a good idea to ask your dentist for advice. Your dental specialists should be the first to know about any changes to medication anyway, because it might affect treatments and procedures. If you do suffer with dry mouth, ask your dentist for some practical solutions.

  1. Bleaching is Harmful for Teeth

A lot of people think that bleaching and whitening is damaging for the teeth, but there is no evidence to support this idea. This misconception may stem from the fact that bleaching causes temporary sensitivity. So, if you do use a product of this kind of your teeth, you are likely to feel sensations from food and the movement of air a lot more keenly.

In some cases, this will translate as sharp pains, but the feeling should only last for a few hours at most. You can alleviate the sensitivity by staying away from very hot or very cold foods. Where possible, resist the urge to jump straight back into coffees or other cold beverages. If the sensitivity lasts for longer than a few hours (and certainly if it persists for a whole day), you must ring your dentist for advice.

Always follow the instructions on the packet very carefully, if you are using an at home bleaching or whitening kit. Ideally, you should head to your dental surgery to get this procedure done, just to be sure of safety, but this will not be convenient for everybody. Never exceed the recommended application time provided in the instruction booklet, no matter how well you think the process has or has not gone.

  1. Dental Problems Stay in the Mouth

If you can understand anything about oral and dental health, make it this essential truth. The health of your teeth can have far reaching consequences for parts of the body that you would never guess could be connected to them. Essentially, your mouth is a window on the rest of your physical health. If your teeth are in tip top condition, your body is likely to follow suit.

Alternatively, poor dental health can contribute to strokes, diabetes, heart disease, and more. If you are constantly struggling with tooth decay and cavities, your body is strained as it works hard to fight off infection. This means that less attention is being paid to other essential processes. You should never underestimate the power and influence of good dental health, because its impact is tremendously far reaching.

The good news is that keeping your teeth healthy is simple. All that they need is a consistent flossing and brushing routine (twice a day), plenty of water, a healthy diet and lifestyle, and regular trips to the dentist for check-ups. As with almost all physical health routines, a good dental plan is based on prevention. It really is cheaper (and a lot less painful) than the cure. Save yourself the trouble of a root canal, filling, or extraction by solving problems now.  

Getting into a Healthy Dental Routine

If you have not visited the dentist for a long time, it is not going to be easy to make the first move. It will feel scary and you will worry about the dentist thinks about the state of your teeth. However, here are some of the things that will not happen at your dental exam. The dentist will not lecture you or make you feel embarrassed. They will not rush you into anything that you are not ready or willing to do.

They will not lie to you about the length or complexity of procedures and they will not tell you that it won’t hurt if they know that it will. Ultimately, your dentist is there to take care of your teeth and, in order to do that, they must also take care of you. They will be your advisor, expert, reassuring voice, and a reliable source of information.

So, don’t waste this amazing resource; get in touch with a local dentist and start working on building up a relationship right now. The more often you visit – and stick to regular appointments – the more chance you will have to work with the dentist and feel comfortable around them. They are there to help and educate, not to lecture.

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