Don't believe these 6 dental myths

Around Halloween you can count on several frightening urban myths to circulate. But there are also some pretty spooky fictional tales about your smile. If you believe some of these myths, you could end up with a monster cavity or eerie gum disease. That’s why we’re debunking these common dental myths. 

1. The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. 

Brushing regularly helps remove plaque from your teeth. But brushing harder does not necessarily mean you’re brushing better. In fact, you can brush so hard that you damage your gums, causing them the recede. You can also wear down tooth enamel and root surfaces, leading to tooth pain and sensitivity.

The motion you use to brush (with a soft-bristled toothbrush) is more important. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and brush gently in a circular motion, focusing on one tooth at a time.

2. Chewing sugar-free gum is as good as brushing your teeth. 

Chewing sugar-free gum does have its benefits, such as temporarily masking bad breath and relieving dry mouth. It also helps clean your mouth and neutralize acid on your teeth because more saliva is produced as you chew.

However, chewing sugar-free gum is not a substitute for daily brushing sessions. Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time — plus flossing daily and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings — is the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

3. Whiter teeth always equal a healthier smile. 

Most people want a bright white smile. The thickness of the white outer enamel layer of teeth, which is a product of genetics, is a major factor in brightness. Your teeth may naturally be darker or may have darkened due to aging, medication, trauma or stains from food and drink.

Although people associate white teeth with good oral health, somewhat darker teeth can still be perfectly healthy. And even if your teeth are white and shiny, you can have cavities, gum disease, bone loss, weakened enamel or sensitive teeth. 

4. There’s no need to visit the dentist until there’s a problem. 

Prevention is the key to great dental health. Even if your teeth aren’t bothering you, it’s still important to keep regular dental appointments.

Not only can cleanings help keep your teeth and gums healthy, but your dentist can often uncover issues early, when they are less serious and easier and less costly to treat. For example, you may have a cavity that is not causing you pain. But as it grows larger, it can become painful and sensitive and could require a root canal or tooth extraction.

5. Sugary foods and drinks are the only ones that cause cavities. 

Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and break them down into acids that can cause cavities. But sugary foods aren’t the only cavity-causing culprits. Starchy foods like chips and crackers contain a lot of carbohydrates that break down into sugars on your teeth. In addition, they often stick in your teeth. Because they linger on your teeth, they have more time to do damage.

You also need to watch out for acidic foods and drinks. For instance, while sugar-free sodas won’t bathe your teeth in sugar, they do contain acid that can wear down your tooth enamel and lead to  tooth decay and sensitivity.

6. Cavities in baby teeth are no big deal because they fall out any way. 

Healthy baby teeth are essential because they help kids chew and speak correctly. Cavities in baby teeth can cause children a great deal of pain and even lead to infection. Those cavities can also cause baby teeth to fall out before permanent teeth are ready to emerge. This can cause alignment issues with permanent teeth.

It’s vital for children to have a good oral health routine from a young age. Regular brushing and dental visits should begin as soon as teeth emerge.

Make sure to visit your dental office regularly. Your dentist and dental hygienist are both great sources for the truth about your teeth. 

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