There are many myths about teeth and gum care. It’s important to get information from experts for accurate information, but remember that any time you’re feeling unsure or start experiencing pain, contact your dentist for more information or an appointment. Preventing a larger issue can save you both time and money! Here are some common dental care myths:
Myth #1: Sugar Causes Cavities
Sugar is a part of it, but the truth is that sugar in and of itself does not cause cavities. Cavities are linked to sugar because the bacteria that live in your mouth consume the various types of sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose) and convert it into acid through a process known as glycolysis. So, technically, cavities are being caused by the increased acid levels in your mouth.
This is why it is important to consume less sugar and brush/floss after meals. If you cannot do that for some reason, rinse your mouth with water after eating. Chewing sugar free gum can also help you increase saliva production, lowering the acid levels in your mouth. Gum that is sweetened with Xylitol is known for helping as it not only promotes saliva production, but it inhibits the growth of these cavity-causing bacteria.
Myth #2: Brushing Harder Cleans Your Teeth Better
This seems counterintuitive since you want to scrub off bacteria and plaque, but brushing too hard can damage your enamel and contribute to gum recession. This is why most dentists recommend that you use soft bristle toothbrushes. Instead of brushing your teeth aggressively, you should focus on your brushing technique and longevity. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and brush your teeth for 2 minutes.
Myth #3: Chew Sugar-Free Gum or Use Mouthwash Instead of Brushing
There is no substitute for brushing twice a day and flossing daily, minimum. These activities are a key priority in maintaining your oral hygiene. Chewing gum or rinsing your mouth out are simply not going to clean your teeth to the same level that brushing and flossing will. Even with regular brushing and flossing, it is recommended that you get a dental cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist at least once every six months.
Don’t look for shortcuts and easier methods to clean your teeth. Chewing sugar-free gum and using mouthwash should be looked at as supplemental methods to maintaining your oral hygiene, not in lieu of brushing and flossing.
Myth #4: If You Don’t Have Any Pain, You Don’t Need A Dentist
Perhaps you aren’t experiencing any pain, but have not been to the dentist in quite some time. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to see a dentist.
There are multiple reasons to seek the help of a dentist every six months or so. One reason is to get a deep cleaning that people are unable to attain on their own, but the other reason is that the dentist can screen you for oral cancer and other potential problems that you may not be aware of.
Not all cavities and oral health problems are accompanied with pain or easily spotted areas of concern. If you haven’t had a scan or x-ray done anytime recently, your dentist may recommend one. These scans can give the dentist a detailed view of your jawbone, tooth roots, and unerupted teeth, and more. Many of these issues can be solved quicker, and with less pain and financial strain if they are caught early on.
Myth #5: Bleeding Gums Are Normal
Bleeding gums are not normal and usually indicate that you have gingivitis or inflammation in the gums. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, and if it is caught and treated early enough it can be reversed. However, if it progresses to the point of periodontal disease, it becomes much more difficult to treat.
While over 50% of people over the age of 30 may have gum disease, it is not normal for healthy and good oral hygiene. If your gums are bleeding, you need to do a better job of brushing and flossing, at the least. It is possible that you may need to see a dental professional.
Myth #6: Everyone Has Wisdom Teeth
Most people have wisdom teeth and most people should have their wisdom teeth removed to prevent the problems often associated with them. However, some people do not have a full set. Some people have 3, 2, 1, or even none. And in rare instances, some people even have more than 4 wisdom teeth. The only way to know prior to the time where they often become problematic is to see a dentist around the age of 16 or so. The dentist will take x-rays which will allow him to determine how many you have and when they should be taken out.
In some instances the dentist will refer you to a specialist such as an oral surgeon. Especially if he is uncomfortable with the procedure or if your case is particularly troublesome. In rare cases, wisdom teeth will not even need to be removed, but your dentist will be able to advise you on this matter.
Myth #7: Silver Fillings (Amalgam) Are Not Safe
There is no known evidence to back up this claim. Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings have been studied extensively and have been found to be safe according to the American Dental Association, Food and Drug Administration, Mayo clinic, U.S. Public Health Service, World Health Organization, and The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and others as well.
Myth #8: Braces Are For Aesthetics Only
While it is true that braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign or clear correct are great methods to straightening teeth and giving people more confidence to smile, that is not their only purpose. Straightened teeth will improve your ability to clean your teeth, speak, and chew properly.
Cosmetic dentistry is often not covered by many dental insurances. Orthodontics are often covered by dental insurances, at least partially, because they do more than make your smile aesthetically pleasing. They improve the function of your mouth, jaw/bite.