As much as we talk to our patients about good oral health, we still find that many patients believe in some common dental hygiene myths. They may have been passed down from their parents or are a part of their overall philosophy about their health (e.g. “more is better”). Read through these myths, then ask your dentist about them at your next teeth cleaning exam.
6 Common Dental Hygiene Myths about Your Oral Health
Even the smartest, most fastidious patients can believe some of these common dental hygiene myths. Here are six myths about oral health and the real truth about them.
Dental Hygiene Myth #1: Gum Disease Won’t Happen to Me
Fact: nearly every American will experience at least a mild form of gum disease in their lifetime. Gum disease can be due to a number of factors that don’t always have to do with oral hygiene habits. For example, we have many patients who practice near-perfect oral hygiene, but experience mild gum disease during pregnancy or while on certain antibiotics.
The main thing to remember with gum disease treatment is that catching gum disease early is key. Mild gingivitis can be treated and corrected in a matter of days. Patients should keep up with their regular teeth cleaning exams so that their dentist can diagnose gum disease in its early stages.
Dental Hygiene Myth #2: Brushing Harder is Better and Will Make My Teeth Cleaner
Fact: Brushing too hard can cause irreparable damage in extreme cases to your overall oral health. In fact, we’ve seen patients who are fastidious brushers and flossers cause their gums to recede and experience painful symptoms as a result of brushing too hard.
When it comes to proper brushing, technique is always more important than pressure. Use light pressure and small circles as you make your way from quadrant to quadrant in your mouth. Never “scrub” hard back and forth over your teeth. Sonic and electric toothbrushes can be a great solution if you think you’re brushing too hard. The toothbrush itself will do a majority of the work, and it’s almost impossible to use pressure that’s too hard with these types of brushes.
Dental Myth #3: If I Use an Electric Toothbrush, I Don’t Need to Floss
Fact: Even if you use the most expensive, high-tech toothbrush, you’ll still need to floss twice a day. While these toothbrushes can certainly clean surface area better than most manual brushes, they still can’t reach in between the teeth fully. The only way to remove plaque and build-up between the teeth is with floss.
Not all floss is created equal, so choose a floss that works for you and that you enjoy using. If you have teeth that fit very tightly together, a “tape” floss might be a better fit for your oral hygiene routine. Floss threaders and floss picks might be a great alternative if you have mobility issues or want something that is portable. We’re not super particular on the type of floss you use, just as long as you use it!
Dental Myth #4: If My Gums Bleed When I Floss, I Should Let Them “Rest” or Leave Them Alone
Fact: Bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease or gum irritation, and the answer to stopping the bleeding is to keep the area as clean as possible. Blood is a sign that the gums are irritated and that bacteria and plaque are flourishing at or below the gumline. It also might be a sign that food is stuck in between the teeth and causing irritation as well.
If your gums are also painful along with the swelling or bleeding, you will still want to gently brush and floss the area until the gum is no longer puffy. You might also want to rinse with a mild salt water solution, which can help act as a disinfectant. If your gums don’t stop bleeding after a few days and still remain sore and puffy, even with gentle brushing and flossing, see your dentist.
Dental Myth #5: If Nothing is Bothering Me, I Don’t Need a Regular Check Up
Fact: Twice yearly teeth cleaning exams aren’t just to correct things that might be bothering you. These exams are important because your dentist may be able to catch a problem when it’s small and correct it quickly. It also ensures that any tartar build up is cleared away before it builds too much.
The problem with only going to the dentist when something is bothering you is that patients tend to wait until the issue is dire. That often means that the problem is much, much bigger than it needed to be if a dentist had been able to catch it earlier. Remember, when it comes to your oral health, smaller issues tend to be far less painful, expensive and time consuming than large issues. So don’t skip your check ups!
Dental Myth #6: If I Have Sensitive Teeth, They are Damaged In Some Way
Fact: Millions of Americans experience teeth sensitivity. Often this is due to genetics (if you have sensitive teeth, your mom or dad probably do, too). Sometimes tooth sensitivity is due to a new cavity or other issue, but that sensitivity tends to be localized to the problem area. Some people simply have more “porous” teeth, which means they will naturally be more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
General tooth sensitivity is easily treatable with a good sensitivity toothpaste, which can help shore up the tooth surface. If you’re experiencing acute sensitivity for the first time, however, or if it came on suddenly, visit your dentist. It could be an indication of a deeper problem.
These are some of the most common dental myths we see in our office. Fortunately, there is more information available than ever for patients to learn about their oral health. Plus, with regular check ups, patients can learn better habits and practice great oral hygiene all year long.
Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Professional Dentistry and Teeth Cleaning Exams in Columbus Ohio
We are proud to offer professional dentistry, teeth cleaning exams and gum disease treatment in Central Ohio. If you’re worried about your oral health, come see us! Contact us today to learn more.