There are some principles of dentistry that have been commonly understood and unquestioned for centuries. Brushing your teeth is good; sugar is bad for your teeth; and our teeth decay as we age.
Believe it or not, there are still a plethora of dental myths that float around regarding oral hygiene. It’s important to shed light on these myths to make sure that they don’t gain any more traction than they already have.
If you’ve heard a few controversial statements floating around, such as “flossing doesn’t do anything!,” you should check out the following 10 dental myths as explained by our general dentist in San Diego.
When it doubt, take a trip to your local dentist and ask them directly about your oral health care routine.
1. Brushing Harder = Brushing Better
This is one of the all-too common myths that we hear just about every day at our dental office in San Diego. Many people assume that brushing harder is better because it more effectively breaks down plaque, gets every surface of the tooth, or targets food residue.
Instead, think about brushing your teeth like you’d think about hammering a nail. You certainly want to put some weight behind the hammering, but you never want to smash it entirely. If you do, you risk damaging the nail, whatever the nail is going into, and yourself.
With brushing your teeth, there’s a just-right balance. In fact, it’s far more important to brush for a full two minutes (and to reach every surface) than to brush intensely. You’re much more likely to damage your enamel and gums if you brush too hard.
For this reason, dentists recommend soft-bristled brushes as opposed to hard ones.
2. Flossing Is Arbitrary
There’s a direct root as to why this myth has spread. Recently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed flossing based on lack of scientific evidence that proved its effectiveness. While there might not be enough evidence to keep flossing in these guidelines, we can bet that any local dentist you visit will tell you to keep flossing.
It’d be a different story if the Dietary Guidelines for Americans found that flossing was dangerous or had negative effects, but that isn’t the reality. Flossing makes sense for oral care. If you had a build up of snow on your driveway, you’d certainly want to shovel it to keep it clean and safe. It’s the same concept for flossing.
3. Don’t Floss If Your Gums Are Bleeding
Usually bleeding is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong. When it comes to flossing, that also holds true — but it doesn’t mean you should stop.
If your gums bleed when you floss, it’s a sign that they’re inflamed from bacteria buildup. Rather than tell you not to floss, the blood should tell you to floss more regularly! Indeed, regular flossing can help to lessen the inflammation and promote healthier gums.
4. Candy Causes Cavities
While this isn’t necessarily a myth, it’s not the whole story either. We immediately think of candy, especially lollipops and caramel, when it comes to cavities. If anything, dentists say that crackers and chips are far worse for your teeth. That’s because they’re also packed with carbohydrates and they’re more likely to remain stuck in your molars. These sugars break down in the mouth and are much harder to remove with saliva alone.
This myth certainly doesn’t mean that candy is okay for teeth. Instead, limiting your carbohydrate intake in general or at least making sure to thoroughly brush, floss, and rinse your teeth after is a good rule of thumb.
5. Sugar-Free Gum Is Good For You
There are some benefits to sugar-free gums. For one, gum with xylitol encourages our bodies to produce more saliva. With increased saliva, the mouth is better at breaking down food residue and bacteria (thanks to the digestive enzymes in our spit).
Just because gums with xylitol help to produce more saliva doesn’t mean they’re good for you or can replace a standard oral health routine.
6. Dental Appointments Aren’t Always Necessary
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of any healthcare check-ups, dental appointments depend on proactive, consistent treatment. Many dental issues start as small problems that aren’t noticeable to the common eye. You might not even feel pain until months after the problem has started.
It’s imperative to seek dental care at least annually, or as recommended by your local dentist.
About Estrella Dental in San Diego
At our dental office in San Diego, we’re committed to treating and educating patients. We firmly believe that preventative dental care—or treating issues before they happen— is the best practice for oral care.
If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile or you’re looking for a new dentist in San Diego, contact Estrella Dental today. We’re excited to speak with you and provide dental care for you or your family!