Teeth Truths: Debunking Common Dental Care Myths

dental care

Most of us would like to have a bright and beautiful smile, but we don’t always do everything we can to achieve that goal. In fact, a 2018 survey by the American Dental Association found that 42% of Americans don’t see a dentist as frequently as they would like. And in many cases, the avoidance of your family dentist may come down to pervasive misconceptions relating to oral health. In today’s post, we’re debunking some of the most common dental care myths to reveal the “tooth” behind them.

MYTH: Chewing gum and rinsing with mouthwash are good substitutes for brushing and flossing.

After meals, you might be inclined to chew a piece of gum or quickly rinse with mouthwash — and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, as long as you’re using dentist-recommended products. But while your mouth may feel minty fresh, that’s not an indication that you’re improving your oral health. Gum and oral rinses are really no match for brushing and flossing, no matter how sweet your breath smells. Although they can neutralize acids that would normally eat away at enamel, they can’t compete with a toothbrush and dental floss.

MYTH: Since baby teeth fall out anyway, it’s not necessary to focus on dental care for children.

Some parents think that because primary teeth aren’t permanent, they don’t need to worry about their child’s oral health right away. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Experts typically agree that a child’s first dental visit should take place just after their first birthday (or when their first tooth emerges, whichever comes sooner). But even before that happens, parents should wipe their baby’s mouth with a soft cloth to remove bacteria. Getting your child used to the idea of caring for their teeth from the start can set them up for better oral health habits throughout their life. We know that children who aren’t taught about dental care early on will be less likely to follow healthy routines later.

MYTH: Brushing harder will remove more plaque.

Improper brushing technique will often do more harm than good. If you think you need to scrub your teeth until it hurts in order to remove plaque, you could actually end up damaging your teeth and gums in the process — and that could leave you vulnerable to infections, decay, and receding gums. Brushing too aggressively won’t allow you to brush for a shorter amount of time. Instead, you should brush for two minutes twice a day. Whether you’re using a standard or electric toothbrush, you should use gentle, circular strokes and position the brush at a 45-degree angle. Your family dentist would be more than happy to demonstrate if you need an example.

MYTH: Unless you’re in pain, it’s not necessary to visit the dental office regularly.

This misconception is one that you may know is illogical, but that doesn’t always mean you adhere to best practices. Certainly, pain or discomfort should signal an urgent need for a dental appointment. But this isn’t the only time you should visit your dentist! It’s best to schedule a dental appointment every six months. This will actually allow you to avoid many of those emergency issues through preventative measures (which can also save you money in the long run). Another problem with this misconception is that it assumes cavities and other dental issues are obvious. The reality is that you might not always know when you’ve developed a cavity or have an underlying issue. Regular visits are the best way to spot problems that might otherwise go undetected.

MYTH: Dental care doesn’t have much of an effect on your overall health.

Whether due to dental phobias, perceived costs, or scheduling conflicts, you might even be inclined to believe that dental care isn’t all that important. But we now know that poor oral hygiene has links to a number of serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. By prioritizing your dental health, you may reduce your risk of other medical complications in the process.

Now that you know the “tooth” behind these myths, you might be convinced it’s time to make your next dentist appointment. To learn more, please contact our team today. To set up your next appointment, call our team at 207-767-3211.