Learn the truth about how to properly care for your smile
Tooth piercings, sharpening teeth into fangs, tooth bejeweling…there are some weird dental fads making their way around the internet these days. Thankfully, you can spot bad ideas like these from a distance. What’s more frightening are the countless incorrect dental hygiene tips that seem to be true, but are in fact very dangerous.
We’re here to separate dental facts from fiction.
1. The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be
It makes sense why so many people think a more vigorous brushing motion will do a better job of scrubbing your teeth clean. But here’s the truth: Brushing too hard (or with a stiff-bristled brush) erodes your tooth enamel and irritates your gums. You’ll be left at greater risk for cavities, decay, gum disease, and gum recession.
Always use a soft toothbrush and be gentle when brushing!
2. It’s normal for your gums to bleed when flossing
If it’s been a while since you practiced proper dental hygiene and you’re just getting back into a flossing routine, it is common to experience a little bleeding. This bleeding happens when your gums are inflamed, which is caused by all the plaque and bacteria between your teeth.
After you establish a routine, steady flossing habit, this inflammation and bleeding should die down. If it still hasn’t stopped after a few weeks, it’s time to contact your dentist. Bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease, which can have negative effects on your dental health and whole body wellness.
3. Gum disease is not that big of a problem
Speaking of gum disease, we’ve heard so many patients say they’re surprised to learn how dangerous gum disease really is. Yes, gum disease is quite common (almost 50% of US adults suffer from it!), but that doesn’t mean it’s ok.
Left untreated, gum disease will progress into advanced periodontitis and can wreak havoc on your mouth, creating long-term effects on your whole body health, too — from gum recession and tooth loss to increased risk of diabetes and hypertension.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that gum disease is no big deal.
4. Cut out candy and you’ll never get a cavity
You probably grew up hearing how bad sugar is for your teeth. This is definitely true, but lollipops and other candies are not the only (or even the main) cause of cavities. The real culprits are carbohydrates and acid.
Foods like crackers, chips, and white bread do a lot more damage to your teeth. These types of foods are not only filled with sugars that break down teeth, they’re also really sticky. They have a knack for coating your teeth, getting stuck in hard to reach corners, and sneaking down between your teeth. When bacteria eat sugars, they excrete acid which erodes and demineralizes your teeth, leading to cavities and decay.
5. The best way to fix bad breath is with mints/gum
Sometimes bad breath is a result of something you ate. In these cases, brushing your teeth or grabbing a mint until you can get to your toothbrush is a quick fix. But if you always seem to have bad breath no matter how much you brush (or how many mints you eat), there’s a more serious issue going on.
Bad breath (also called halitosis) can be a symptom of a number of potential dental health problems from gum disease to acid reflux. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, no number of mints will fix the problem. It’s time to talk to your dentist.
6. Crooked teeth are purely a cosmetic issue
If you’re teeth are crooked or misaligned, investing in braces or other cosmetic treatments isn’t just a way to feel better about the appearance of your smile. Crooked teeth can also lead to various dental health problems.
For example, overlapping teeth can make it difficult for you to brush or floss properly. Bacteria can build up in these tight spaces and cause cavities, decay, and gum disease. Pressure on these teeth can also cause excessive wear and jaw pain.
7. The whiter your teeth, the healthier they are
Most people wouldn’t mind having a brighter smile, but white teeth don’t automatically translate to healthy teeth. The color of your teeth comes from many factors that don’t necessarily affect your dental health.
For example, stained teeth are often caused by things like coffee, wine, and medications. But these stains are just that…stains. Not automatically a sign of an unhealthy mouth. People with incredibly white teeth can still have cavities and other dental health issues.
8. Good teeth run in my family, so I don’t need to spend as much time caring for my dental health
While genetics can play a role in a person’s dental health, it is never an excuse to skimp on proper oral hygiene habits. Even with “good genes”, if you’re not taking care of your teeth and going to the dentist, you’re bound to suffer the same dental issues as others.
Proper dental health habits are important whether or not your parents never had a cavity in their life.
Fact: Your dentist has the answers
Don’t be quick to believe what other people tell you about taking care of your mouth, teeth, and gums. Always make dental care decisions based on the recommendations of your dentist and the American Dental Association.
At The Winning Smile Dental Group, we’re happy to clear up any dental misconceptions and answer any questions about taking care of your teeth. Working together at your regular dental checkups, we’ll help bring out the best in your smile and equip you with the knowledge to take great care of your teeth and gums.
Dr. Lewis is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. She’s a member of the American Dental Association, the Mississippi Dental Association, the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Lewis is known for providing high-quality, comfortable care, while giving you a smile you’ll be proud to share with the world!