Regardless of how far dentistry has advanced in the last century, there are many myths that still exist out there. We put five common ones together for you to watch out for.
The More Sugar You Consume, The More Your Teeth Decay
Tooth decay isn’t primarily determined by the quantity of sugar you consume. It’s the amount of time that sugar spends in contact with your teeth and gums that determine the rate at which your teeth decay. Soda and candy that slowly dissolves are just some common culprits to tooth decay due to sugar.
The reasoning behind this is that plaque, the bacteria that constantly grows where your gum line meets your teeth, breaks sugar down. As a result of the breakdown, plaque produces acids that gradually degrade tooth enamel, inherently causing tooth decay. The longer plaque has access to the sugar in your mouth, the more acid it will produce. If unable to brush, rinsing with water after having a sugary snack can help dilute the sugar left behind.
Don’t Brush If Your Gums Are Bleeding
Bleeding gums are early indication of gum disease such as early periodontal disease (gingivitis). If they are bleeding, refraining from your daily oral hygiene will not help the healing process go any faster. The bleeding is due to plaque and food debris not being regularly removed by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day as recommended by the American Dental Association.
When plaque deposits are left to accumulate, the bacteria begin to irritate your gums. If left unattended, the resulting inflammation can advance to late stage periodontal disease, which attacks both the gum and bone that support your teeth. Early signs of periodontal disease such as bleeding gums indicate you may need to brush and floss more often, as counterintuitive as that may sound to some.
Brushing With Salt Whitens Teeth
Avoid using salt to brush your teeth, it will to far more harm than good. Salt is abrasive, and can result in cut gums and notched teeth. Using abrasive materials, such as salt, strips away tooth enamel, which does not grow back. Wearing of your enamel can result in tooth sensitivity, even if you think your teeth look whiter after the use of salt.
Saline solution (salt water), though, can help your oral health by helping to kill germs in your mouth. Of course, this is no substitute for brushing and flossing daily, but can help for keeping cuts on the tongue or gums from becoming infected.
Lemon Juice Whitens Teeth
With natural bleaching properties and serving as an ancient antibacterial, many assume lemon juice serves perfectly for whitening their teeth. However, lemon juice is acidic and directly contributes to the breakdown of tooth enamel as a result. It can also affect your teeth if used in food and drinks.
Additionally, it is best to avoid brushing your teeth for 40 minutes to an hour after consuming a lemon product. Doing so can further the acid breakdown of your teeth. The best thing you can do is rinse your mouth out with water in order to dilute the acid solution, making it weaker.
Toothpicks are Harmful to Your Teeth
Toothpick use does not pose a risk to your teeth or widen existing teeth gaps. When properly used, toothpicks can help remove food particles caught between your teeth after a meal. Using a toothpick does not serve as a substitute to flossing once a day, but is often more readily available and more socially acceptable than flossing at the table.
Of course, improper or overuse of toothpicks can pose a risk. If used with too much force or too often, a toothpick can cause gum damage. Simply guide the pick between your teeth to loosen food, and if you encounter resistance, don’t force it.
Dr. Robert D’Alfonso is the head of Austin Dental Implants in Austin, Texas. Dr. D’Alfonso and his dental team offer a wide variety of dental implant services ranging to serving those with dentures, to anyone simply missing a tooth.