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Facts vs. Fiction: truths & myths about oral hygiene

Facts vs. Fiction: truths & myths about oral hygiene

Everyone has advice about what is good and what’s not good for you. And with the overabundance of health blogs online, it’s easy to get conflicting advice about what you should do to keep healthy. So today we’re going to take a quick look at some common myths surrounding oral hygiene, and find out what really keeps your mouth healthy.

MYTH: SUGAR IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF CAVITIES

FACT: SUGAR IS ACIDIC, AND IT’S THE ACID THAT CAUSES TOOTH DECAY.

We’ve seen many more cases of cavities from poor diets than from sugar alone. While sugar is acidic and eating too much can lead to cavities, it’s often the processed foods and acidic sodas like Coke and Sprite, for example, that quickly degrade tooth enamel. There are other factors that contribute to tooth decay, too, like plaque and tartar buildup, and the condition of your teeth and gums.


MYTH: SENSITIVE TEETH ARE A SIGN OF CAVITIES.

FACT: MANY THINGS CAN LEAD TO SENSITIVE TEETH, INCLUDING:

  1. Brushing too aggressively or using a hard toothbrush

  2. Tooth erosion from acids (like we talked about above)

  3. Acidic stomach conditions of vomiting, such as with gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) or bulimia

  4. Exposed tooth roots due to receding gums

Toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate or strontium chloride can help keep sensitivity at bay for some people, but only your dentist can advise you on the real cause of your sensitivity and how to solve it.

 

MYTH: BLEACHING CAN HARM OR WEAKEN YOUR TEETH.

FACT: COSMETIC BLEACHING ONLY LIGHTENS THE OUTER LAYER OF ENAMEL BY REMOVING STAINS. IT DOES NOT WEAKEN THE TOOTH STRUCTURE.

Teeth are porous and it’s easy for food particles and stains to get stuck in the pores. Dental whitening products lift those stains to reveal the natural brightness underneath. 

But not all stains can be removed through cosmetic dentistry, and some people should avoid whitening procedures. If you want to whiten your teeth, be sure to come in for a checkup to discuss whether whitening is safe for you.

 

MYTH: IT’S NOT GOOD TO USE FLUORIDATED TOOTHPASTE OR MOUTHWASH.

FACT: THIS IS A COMMON MISCONCEPTION THAT WE HEAR ALL THE TIME.

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral, and getting the right amount of fluoride is good for your teeth. Too little fluoride in your diet can weaken your teeth, while too much leads to fluorosis.

Just like Vitamin D is added to milk to facilitate calcium absorption and folic acid is added to breads and cereals, most cities still use fluoride in the water. And we advise our patients to brush and rinse with fluoride-containing products to help strengthen their teeth.

 

MYTH: IT’S NOT AS IMPORTANT TO CARE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN’S TEETH.

FACT: IT’S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO CARE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN’S TEETH.

Children are especially prone to cavities because the enamel of their baby teeth -- also referred to as “milk teeth” -- is softer than that of adult teeth. All children have a sweet tooth, and while you can limit their sugar intake, even good-for-you foods like grapes and natural fruit juice contain high amounts of sugar. 

It’s very common today for young children to develop painful cavities and even get root canals before their teeth are ready to fall out. So you need to take extra care of children’s teeth, and teach children healthy habits early on so that when their adult teeth arrive, they can keep them in good shape for the rest of their life.

 

MYTH: I DON’T FEEL OR SEE ANY PROBLEM WITH MY TEETH. I DON’T NEED TO GO TO THE DENTIST.

FACT: EVEN IF YOU HAVE GREAT ORAL HYGIENE, PROBLEMS CAN CREEP IN UNEXPECTEDLY.

Even after a cavity has been filled, a new cavity can develop around the filling if you’re not careful. Also, fillings get old and you will need to replace them after some years to prevent new cavities from forming.

But fillings and cavities are just one aspect of your dental care, and there are many other facets of oral health that only your dentist can advise on. That’s why we recommend for all of our patients to visit us at least twice a year but maybe more, depending on their conditions.

These are just a few of the common myths we have heard surrounding oral hygiene, but we know there are many more! The main thing we can advise is that everyone’s mouth is different, and the only way to really keep it healthy is to come in for your appointments and take the advice of our trained staff.