Common Dental Myths Debunked
The vast majority of people in today’s world seek regular dental care. Yet myths and legends about dentistry run rampant. Some are passed down through families and groups of friends, while others traverse the internet at lightning speed. Here are some of the most common dental myths, debunked.
Myth: My Teeth Seem Healthy, So I Can Skip the Dentist
Fact: It is difficult or impossible to see most dental issues at their earliest, most treatable, stages. Even if your teeth look terrific and you have no pain, you need to visit the dentist every six months. A professional cleaning removes plaque and tartar that brushing leaves behind, and a thorough exam will catch any emerging issues.
Myth: Dental Health Is Determined by Genetics, So It Is Outside My Control
Fact: It is true that some people are more prone to gum disease and tooth decay than others, partially due to genetics. But modern dentistry allows us to prevent most dental issues, and to quickly treat those that arise. You are responsible for proactively managing your own oral health, regardless of your genes.
Myth: Brushing My Teeth Often Will Damage the Enamel
Fact: Hard toothbrushes, not over brushing, will damage tooth enamel. Select a soft-bristled toothbrush and use it at least twice per day, for 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth.
Myth: I Can Chew Gum Instead of Brushing My Teeth
Fact: It is true that if you can’t immediately brush your teeth, chewing sugar-free gum will freshen your breath and stimulate saliva production to rinse food debris from your mouth. However, gum cannot remove plaque, so it is no substitute for proper brushing.
Myth: If My Gums Are Bleeding, Brushing Them Will Cause More Damage
Fact: Gums bleed when food debris or dental plaque and tartar get trapped in them. It is important to brush more, not less, to stop the bleeding. If your gums still bleed despite regular brushing and flossing, make a dental appointment right away.
Myth: An Aspirin Tablet Will Stop My Toothache
Fact: If you can’t see the dentist right away, an over the counter pain reliever can help reduce your suffering until your appointment. However, it will not correct the underlying problem. Never put aspirin directly on the soft tissues of your mouth, which could lead to painful chemical burns.
Myth: Teeth Whitening Can Damage Enamel
Fact: At one time, teeth whitening methods were hard on tooth enamel. Today’s products, though, are much safer. Ask your dentist for recommendations and follow all directions precisely.
Myth: Baby Teeth Are Unimportant
Fact: Teaching your child to properly care for his baby teeth sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health. Baby teeth also hold space open for the permanent teeth, and allowing them to decay could cause orthodontic issues later in life. Finally, your child relies on the baby teeth for biting, chewing, and talking. They can also be painful if they start to decay. Treat your child’s baby teeth as carefully as your own permanent teeth.
Myth: Pregnant Women Should Avoid Dental Work
Fact: Pregnant women are at heightened risk for gum disease, so regular cleanings and exams are vital throughout pregnancy. Pain and infection in the mother can affect the baby, so any emergency dental work should be performed as soon as possible. It is best to schedule dental work during the second trimester when possible, and to delay elective procedures until the baby is born, but pregnant women should not avoid the dentist.