These days the internet is where most people look first for information on any topic. While there are a lot of really helpful websites out there, the internet is also a place where (urban) myths can be spread. Here are 3 teeth cleaning myths you may find on the net and the truth about them.
Brush your teeth as hard as you can and as often as you can
Maybe this myth took hold as a way to try to get through to people that they really need to brush their teeth both regularly and well to have good oral health. In actual fact you really need to brush your teeth 2 to 3 times a day, ideally after your main meals, at least morning and night. You also need to brush effectively but this is different from forcefully. Basically your aim is to make sure that you reach all surfaces rather than to scrub away at your mouth as though you were cleaning a floor. You may have heard the expression “tooth enamel”, well teeth really do have an enamel surface and if you brush too hard, you are very likely to damage it. What you can and should do is use alternative oral hygiene products such as rinses and sugar free gum or sugar-free mints to keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh between cleans.
Sugar is the number 1 cause of bad teeth
This could actually be classed as a semi-myth in that there is some truth in it, but it is nothing close to the whole truth. Basically what happens is that bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar, as these bacteria multiply they create an acidic environment in the mouth and this damages the teeth. Eating acidic foods can be just as bad for your teeth as eating sugary ones, however many people, especially children, are much more tempted to over-indulge on sugary foods and, in particular, sugary drinks, than on acidic ones. Also excess sugar consumption tends to contribute to other health issues and is therefore best avoided in any case. The reason this (semi-)myth can cause harm is because it may lead people to believe that because they avoid processed sugar, they can skip on regular tooth cleaning. In reality, while they may suffer less from the consequences of poor oral hygiene than people who eat a lot of sugar, they can still expect the health of their teeth to be negatively impacted.
Bleeding gums should be left to heal before being cleaned and flossed
Bleeding in the gums is like bleeding anywhere else in the body. If there’s just a small amount of blood, it’s unlikely to be a huge issue but if there is extensive bleeding then it’s time to get medical help (and if in doubt get medical help). Bleeding in the gums is generally linked to poor oral hygiene, which leads to plaque build up and hence inflammation, gingivitis and, if left untreated, can lead to gum disease. The way to deal with minor bleeds is to get rid of the plaque which is most likely to be causing them and that means taking the time to clean and floss properly. If your teeth are in a really bad state, then a visit to a professional dental hygienist may be required.
Bonus tip – Dentists appreciate patients taking the time to clean their teeth and freshen their breath before their appointment, but no dentist is going to be fooled into thinking that a patient has been taking proper care of their teeth since their last appointment if they haven’t been. By the same token, dentists are keen to help people take care of themselves and to fix and problems as soon as they can. In other words, if you have let your teeth get into a bad state, your best bet is to get to a dentist as quickly as possible rather than putting it off out of fear or embarrassment.