Let’s take a moment to get a few things straight regarding your teeth and oral health! Everyone knows that bad oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss and many other complications. But did you know your oral health plays a big role in your overall health? Diseases like heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes have been linked to oral health issues. Spoiler alert, we’re going to dispel some common misconceptions about caring for your teeth, as well as your child’s teeth.
Myth #1: My kids and I only need to see the dentist when there's an emergency.
Just because your teeth look healthy doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to skip seeing the dentist. Six months is a good benchmark for a routine dental exam and cleaning. Some people may need to see the dentist more frequently, and some a little less. During the dental appointment, your dentist will discuss a personalized care plan that’s based on age, and potentially some dental or developmental concerns. Remember, check-ups allow the dentist or hygienist to spot and treat issues BEFORE they become emergencies.
Myth #2: I shouldn't brush my teeth if my gums are bleeding.
Studies show that 25% of adults DO NOT brush their teeth twice a day. So often times when you see bleeding gums, it’s actually a sign that plaque or food debris isn’t being removed properly by brushing and flossing often enough. If your gums are more prone to bleeding, try using a soft-bristle toothbrush and gently, but thoroughly, brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, especially after eating. If the bleeding continues, then it’s a good idea to visit your dentist.
Myth #3: Baby teeth aren't as important to take care of as adult teeth, because they'll fall out anyway.
False! Neglecting to care for your child’s baby teeth can cause problems with their bite and/or permanent teeth if the baby teeth fall out too early. It’s never too early to start teaching your child(ren) healthy oral hygiene habits!
Myth #4: All dental procedures must be avoided during pregnancy.
The ADA notes that pregnancy hormones in some women can lead to sensitive and inflamed gums, called “pregnancy gingivitis”. Plaque builds up on the teeth, irritates the gums making them red, sore, and sometimes cause bleeding. Studies also reveal that expectant mothers with poor oral hygiene are 7 times more likely to deliver premature and low birth weight babies! Bottom line, regular dental exams and cleanings should continue as usual to prevent gingivitis from turning into gum disease and effecting yours or your baby’s health. Procedures like X-rays and dental surgery are the ones that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Myth #5: Teeth whitening damages tooth enamel.
It does depend on the product you use. Watch for products that contain strong bleaching agents. In general, advances in over-the-counter teeth whitening products have come a long way, and if used as directed, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The benefit of in-office professional teeth whitening is that it’s regulated to help prevent adverse effects on your teeth and gums.
Myth #6: Only sugar causes cavities and tooth decay.
While consuming too much sugar can play a role in forming cavities, acids are just as big of an issue! People often think they’re making a healthier choice by selecting a “sugar-free” drink, but that’s not true. Acids in soda (diet or regular) are the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel, which can ultimately make teeth more susceptible to cavities.
Myth #7: My child can wait until all their baby teeth come in before visiting a dentist.
Actually, teeth start to form before a child is even born! The American Dental Association recommends booking a child’s first dental visit when their first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months. A big concern is “Early Childhood Caries” also known as “baby bottle tooth decay” or “nursing caries”. Once more solid foods are introduced into a child’s diet, their teeth are at risk for decay. By visiting the dentist early, and regularly, there’s a better chance of preventing dental problems down the road.
Myth #8: Chewing sugar-free gum is just as effective as brushing.
Did you know that kids in North America spend close to half a billion dollars on chewing gum! Yes, it’s true that chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help clean your teeth and freshen your breath, especially if you’re not at home to brush. However, it IS NOT a replacement for thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove plaque and debris! Another option to try, if you can’t brush right away, is simply rinsing your mouth with water. Water helps remove food particles and neutralizes the effects of acid and sugary foods which often lead to cavities.
Myth #9: Kids should have their wisdom teeth removed.
That’s not always the case! Often times removal is recommended due to overcrowding. Some teens may also have issues with developing cavities in their wisdom teeth because they’re too far back in the mouth to properly brush and floss. Each individual is different so your dentist, or potentially orthodontist, will make recommendations based on your child’s jaw and teeth development.
Myth #10: I need to use a hard-bristle toothbrush to get my teeth really clean.
Did you know the first toothbrush with bristles was made in China in 1498, by using bristles from boars, hogs, horses and badgers? In today’s modern world, it’s recommended using any soft-bristle toothbrush, making sure the head of the toothbrush is small enough to fit comfortably in yours, or your child’s mouth. It can be an electric toothbrush, or regular toothbrush… the choice is up to you. Just remember to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, when bristles start to look frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do a good job of cleaning! And it’s best not to cap your toothbrush. Capping it will spark even more bacterial growth than usual. Let it breath in the open air!
Got more questions? We're here to help!
If you have any questions about caring for your child’s teeth, please call (214) 618-5200 during our office hours and our team will be happy to answer questions or book an appointment.