These days it seems we're always hearing buzz about some new wacky dental fad, from extreme modifications like tooth piercings, grills and sharpening teeth into fangs to cleaning trends like oil pulling and charcoal teeth whitening.
Of course you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that some of these fads are just plain bad for your mouth! However, as dental professionals - whose main priority is your oral health - our concern is the vast amount of incorrect dental hygiene tips pouring out all over the internet. While some may seem true, much of this misinformation can be very dangerous - not just cosmetically, but to your whole body health.
Which is why we're here to help you distinguish between fact and fiction among some common oral health misconceptions.
Let's go ahead and debunk some dental hygiene myths!
Myth #1: The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be.
Many people believe that using a hard-bristled toothbrush and/or a harder brushing motion, will clean your teeth better.
The truth is that brushing too hard or with a stiff-bristled toothbrush can cause damage to your enamel and irritation to your gums. Your risk of gum disease, cavities, and decay will be higher. Use a soft toothbrush, brush gently and take your time to be thorough.
Myth #2: Bleeding gums are not a cause for concern.
No. No. And Definitely NO! Often it is something simple - like not flossing your teeth regularly, but if they continue to bleed even after a period of regular (daily) flossing, it could be an indication of something more serious.
Bleeding gums may be an indication of gum (periodontal) disease, which can have negative effects on your dental health and whole body wellness. This happens when your gums are inflamed, which is caused by all the plaque and bacteria between your teeth. Consult your dentist if bleeding gums occur frequently.
Myth #3: Gum disease isn't that big of a problem.
As we just touched on in the previous myth, gum disease can become a very serious problem. It's also quite common. We've had so many patients tell us how shocked they are when they learn how deadly it can be. If left untreated, advanced periodontitis can cause long-term damage to your body, including tooth loss, gum recession, and increased risk for diabetes and hypertension.
Do not let gum disease fool you - it has the potential to attack and wreak havoc on all vital internal organs.
Fortunately, it's also easily treatable with a proper home dental care routine, regular dental hygiene visits and exams from your dentist.
Myth #4: If you don't consume sugary foods/drinks you won't get cavities.
Chances are, you grew up hearing about the dangers of sugar and how it damages your teeth. Certainly this is much is true, but lollies and soda pops are not the sole cause of cavities (caries). Acid and carbohydrates are the real sneaky culprits, mostly because people don't suspect them.
Crackers, chips, white bread, and other similar foods can cause more harm to your teeth than you might think. These foods not only contain sugars that can cause tooth decay, but they are also very sticky. They get stuck in corners and wedge in tight between your teeth. Bacteria that eat sugars then produces acid, which erodes and demineralizes teeth. This can lead to decay and of course, cavities.
This is why every dentist worth his/her salt will always recommend proper, regular flossing. (We really can't stress enough how important daily flossing is! If you've been to our clinic you may have noticed how strongly we feel about it simply by accessing the internet using our Wifi password!)
Myth #5: Tooth Loss is due to cavities.
Tooth loss can be caused by many factors, including cavities. Periodontal disease can be caused by unhealthy gums, which can lead to a weakening of the gums' grip on teeth and increase your susceptibility for tooth loss. Bone density loss due to age and other reasons is another common cause.
As always, if you have any concerns at all about your potential for loosing teeth - or any dental concern - a quick consultation with your dentist can save you time, health, money and quite literally - your teeth.
Myth #6: Bad breath can be fixed with mints/gum.
Sure, bad breath is sometimes caused by something you ate. And yes, brushing your teeth and/or taking a mint is a viable option to eliminate said bad breath. If you have persistent bad breath, no matter how often you brush or how many mints you chew, there may be a more serious problem lurking in the depths of your insides.
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of potential health issues such as gingivitis, acid re-flux and/or other internal problems. No amount of mints can fix chronic bad breath.
Your first step is to visit your dentist.
He/she can help determine if it is, in fact, an oral concern - and offer treatment options - or if it may be the cause of something else - in which case, a visit to your physician will most likely be recommended.
Myth #7: Crooked teeth are only a cosmetic problem.
Most people think braces and other cosmetic treatments are purely to improve the appearance of one's
smile, and often it is the sole purpose people opt for such treatments. Straight teeth certainly are more aesthetically pleasing, but a beautiful smile isn't the only reason
why it's a good idea to ensure your teeth are properly aligned.
Crooked teeth can lead to other dental health issues. It can be difficult to floss or brush properly if your teeth are overlapping. These tight spaces can be home to bacteria that can cause decay and cavities, which, if severe, could even cause problems to your internal organs. Misaligned teeth can also be damaged by pressure, causing excessive wear, cracked teeth, jaw pain, periodontal disease, bone loss and more.
Myth #8: White teeth are healthy teeth.
The whitest of white teeth seems to have become the epitome of perfect smile standards here in North America. There isn't anything wrong with wanting a brighter smile, but focusing only on achieving white teeth doesn't mean that will be healthy. There are many factors that can affect the colour of your teeth, but they're not necessarily a sign of poor dental health.
Stains can be caused by medications, coffee, wine and other substances and usually aren't permanent. So stains aren't a true indication that you have an unhealthy mouth. Even people with extremely white teeth may still suffer from cavities or other oral health problems, which can't always be seen - or even felt - and may only be detectable by a trained professional with proper equipment.
Myth #9: My family has good teeth, so I don’t have to spend as much time taking care of my dental health.
Although genetics may play a part in someone's oral health, this is not an excuse to neglect good oral hygiene habits. Even if you have "good genes", you will still suffer from the same dental problems as the rest of the population if you don't take care of your teeth or visit the dentist regularly.
No matter how many - or few - cavities your parents had - or didn't have - in their lives, it's still important for you to maintain good dental health.
The point we're trying to make here is, don't believe everything others say about how to take care of your teeth, gums, and mouth - especially if it comes from random internet sites/blogs/etc. Make sure you consult a dentist professional and/or your local Dental Association before making any dental care decisions. We are happy to clarify any misconceptions about your teeth and answer your questions. We'll work together with you at your regular checkups to bring out your best - and healthiest - smile and give you the knowledge and skills to care for your teeth and gums.