image0077Your dentist is, of course, your best source for information on oral care. But if you are like most people, you may only visit your dentist’s office a few times a year. In between those visits, much of the “information” you receive could actually be myths. Using those firmly held, but nevertheless false, beliefs to help you make oral care decisions can lead to some big mistakes.

Here are five common myths you should be aware of:

Myth 1 – Flossing is unnecessary

This is not true. And it may be a bit of wishful thinking. Flossing does add a few extra minutes to your oral care routine, but when you look at the time, money, and pain it can save you down the road, it’s well worth it. Brushing can only reach about 70% of your tooth surface. Flossing helps you get to the 30% that is missed with brushing alone. And once you’re in the habit of flossing daily, it seems to take no time at all!

Myth 2 – The best measure of tooth health is whiteness

This is false. The natural color of teeth varies from person to person. While teeth should generally be on the whiter side of the spectrum, pure white is neither natural nor an accurate indicator of oral health. You can have very white teeth and still have cavities and other tooth issues, not to mention gum disease. The key is to brush and floss regularly and not focus on tooth color.

Myth 3 – Bleaching your teeth is dangerous

This is not true, at least in proper amounts. Prior to 1990, tooth bleaching materials contained acid that could break down tooth enamel. Since that time, manufacturers of bleaching agents have switched to PH neutral compounds using carbamide peroxide that do not damage teeth or harm their roots. Instead they only create an oxidization reaction on the surface that causes the color to lighten. However, be aware that using high concentrations of whitening gels in contradiction to the manufacturer’s directions can potentially traumatize your teeth.

Myth 4 – You should not brush your gums if they have been bleeding
That is false. Brushing removes plaque, which is the cause of inflamed gums, gingivitis, and ultimately gum disease if left unaddressed. The key is to brush your gums, but to do it very gently. Overly aggressive brushing can irritate your gum tissue. Flossing regularly will also help reduce inflammation and bleeding.

Myth 5 – The primary cause of tooth decay is sugar
This one is a “maybe.” The primary cause of tooth decay is a combination of the bacteria in your mouth and the acid they produce. It is true that sugar fuels these bacteria faster than other sources of calories, but here again, the bottom line is that if you brush and floss regularly, you’ll have much better oral health in general. That said, there are many good reasons to cut back on sugar intake, so it’s never a bad idea.

Setting the Record Straight

If you have accurate information, it’s much easier to maintain great oral health. When in doubt about a current trend or an age-old wives’ tale, it’s best to talk with your dentist at University Dental Orlando.