10 most common dental myths revealed
It’s been said that a lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is still lacing up its boots. And as if to prove the point, that quote itself has long been misattributed to Mark Twain – even though its origins date back significantly further.
Well, this has certainly been our experience at the Essex Smile Centre, where we are consistently surprised by the variety of mistruths, half-truths and downright untruths we hear from patients. So, to put these to bed once and for all, we would like to present our very own 10 most common dentistry myths – busted.
It’s normal to have bleeding gums
Everyone spits out blood when they brush their teeth, right? Wrong. Bleeding is caused by inflammation – itself a result of plaque build-up, gum disease or even the onset of gingivitis. Admittedly you may experience some bleeding when you start flossing for the first time, but it certainly shouldn’t be the norm. If it’s regular, please book an appointment to see us.
If teeth are white, they’re healthy
Just because teeth appear healthy on the surface, it’s no guarantee that everything is OK underneath. If teeth have been whitened after becoming stained, the aesthetics may have been resolved but not the underlying issue that caused the discolouration in the first place. The Essex Smile Centre can help on both counts – to make teeth look nice and white, but without neglecting the initial cause.
Brushing harder cleans better
Admittedly, this is more believable than some other dental myths, but it’s also not true. Brushing harder or with abrasive bristles can actually damage the hard enamel that forms a protective layer to help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Remove or damage this enamel and you’re only going to make things worse. Harder brushing also causes gum recession, and it’s also why we’ll always recommend a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Flossing creates gaps between teeth
Cleaning between your teeth won’t leave gaps behind – if anything quite the opposite. Flossing removes inter-dental food debris and plaque, meaning the area between your teeth is healthier and better protected against decay. And whilst we’re here, flossing shouldn’t be optional, but something everybody does regularly.
You don’t need to see the dentist if you don’t have toothache
We understand not being in a rush to book an appointment if nothing seems to be wrong, but you could be getting yourself into much more trouble further down the line. A number of dental issues don’t cause any pain when at first, but by the time a person feels sensitivity the issue has started to become much worse. Visit us every six months to prevent any issues from becoming a problem before they can properly start.
Chewing gum is a substitute for brushing
Sugar-free gum isn’t actually as bad as some may think (and definitely better than most sweets) – but it’s certainly no substitute for brushing and flossing. You may get slightly cleaner teeth and fresher breath from gum, but it cannot reach the same areas in the same way as brushing can.
Gum problems only concern the mouth
Gum disease is caused by bacteria that don’t just stay in the mouth, but which can move around the body. A number of studies have looked into how much of an impact gum disease has on the rest of the body and the results are startling. It’s thought to be linked to a whole number of other conditions, not least cancer, diabetes and heart disease – so all the more reason to keep your mouth healthy.
Sugar will cause cavities
Eating too much sugar can indeed lead to cavities, but it’s not the sugar itself that causes the issue, but bacteria instead. Bacteria thrive on sticky, sweet foods, so will multiply in the mouth of someone with a high-sugar diet. The process then produces acid – which is what eats away at the teeth and causes cavities. A rinse after eating will help prevent decay.
Sensitivity is caused by enamel loss
Sure, enamel loss can cause sensitivity, but it’s not the only thing. In fact, there’s a whole array of potential reasons why you may have sensitivity, including gum recession, using abrasive toothpastes, brushing too hard, grinding your teeth, or one of many other causes. An appointment at the Essex Smile Centre will identify the cause of any sensitivity and help you get back to normal.
A good brush before visiting the dentist covers up months of ills
Unfortunately, our dentists are not so easily hoodwinked! Though it’s good form to brush your teeth thoroughly before attending your appointment, we’ll still be able to tell if you’ve not been brushing as often as you should. This is because of hard tartar which forms around the teeth if they’re not brushed and flossed regularly – and when it sets in there’s no amount of brushing that can dislodge it.
And finally … the dentist had his knee on my chest when extracting my tooth
This is a physically impossible move – even for our yoga-loving dentists.
Hopefully, our explanations above will help dispel some of the most common dental myths. Feel free to get in touch with us at the Essex Smile Centre if you have any other questions or concerns.