Dental Myths and Misconceptions from a Family Dentist in Austin, Texas
People spread information. We pass on information they think is usually important via word of mouth from generation to generation. And we owe a lot to it. Communication is what directs each generation to learn about things relevant to our survival. It is how we thrive in spite of an adverse environment. This is especially true when it comes to information about our health. However, when we get new information that contradicts old fashioned truisms, people are more likely to get their wires crossed. After all, information needs time and accessibility to spread.
So, this leads to the occasional misinformation or ‘old wive’s tales’ about how to take care of ourselves. With that in mind, we are going to look at some of the myths and misconceptions that are commonplace in regards to basic dental care.
Brush Hard and You Get Cleaner Teeth
This is running on the logic that “more equals better”. And to some extent, that sounds logical enough. After all, you need to brush your teeth multiple times a day as well as use a rinse and floss them on a daily basis. By the basis of that alone, doesn’t that mean that harder brushing on top of that you are being more thorough with cleaning your teeth? Not exactly.
When you are applying too much pressure or force on your teeth during brushing, you are creating more friction for your enamel. The enamel is the outer part of the tooth that is supposed to protect the pulp and nerves inside. However, it can still wear down from things like acids, sugars, and blunt trauma that can come in the form of both grinding and heavy-handed brushing.
Just take it easy with the brushing and treat your teeth gently.
Don’t Brush or Floss Bleeding Gums
This one is a little bit understandable because most of us see blood as a sign something is wrong. After all, it is supposed to be inside of our bodies. But in the case of oral hygiene, it isn’t exactly always a bad thing. Most people run on the assumption that bleeding gums cause excess irritation. In truth, they are simply an outcome of that irritation. When there are excess bacteria under the gumline, they cause irritation in the gumline, trying to burrow their way down into the bloodstream.
It is usually a sign that you simply need to floss more often if you have been neglecting it. Either that or you need to ease up on the heaviness of the brushing that was mentioned in the earlier paragraph.
Tooth Decay is Caused by Sugar
Most people hear this one around Halloween. Don’t eat too much candy or you will get cavities. Even a few dentists in Austin, Texas perpetuate this one from time to time. While sugar plays a part in tooth decay, it is hard to blame for every single case of it. In fact, while negative-gram bacteria can find nutrients in simple sugars, they also get it from carbohydrate residue. Everything we eat is made up of various carbohydrates. So, unless you plan on not eating anything, you are going to have residue for bacteria to munch on.
The main cause of tooth decay is acid. When bacteria feed, they create an acid residue. Combine that with the acidity of carbonation or citrus and your teeth would wear out pretty quick. That is why regular tooth brushing is important. It decreases the chance of bacteria settling on top of the tooth to feed and create residue.
White Teeth are Automatically Healthier
People in various forms of visual media depict healthy teeth as white, sparkling and perfectly straight. In fact, the general attitude by all sorts of entertainment figureheads suggests that the whiter the tooth is, the more healthy they are. Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much tooth whitening. Whitening teeth involves a process that literally bleaches them with peroxide. When you overbleach your teeth, the peroxide will blast past the enamel and start affecting the dentin layer, causing it to dissolve and wear thin.
That is why you should always follow the instructions with the over the counter whitening kits or when your dentist is giving you advice about the process. When it comes to tooth whitening, there is such a thing as overkill.