Dr. Jaye Jelley (BDS DipDH, GDC: 6280) dispels the most common dental myths, and gives you honest, truthful answers.
MYTH – I’m not in pain, so I don’t need to go to the dentist.
One of the biggest misconceptions! Regular dental check-ups are vital so that your dentist can monitor your teeth and gum health. Prevention is the key theme, and your dentist will be able to notice any changes that may become bigger issues if left untreated.
MYTH – I use an electric toothbrush, so I don’t need to floss.
Toothbrushes will only clean 60 per cent of the tooth surface, and cannot reach between your teeth or beneath the gums where food debris gets trapped, causing plaque and tartar to build up. It is essential that you clean between your teeth using little interdental brushes or floss every time you brush your teeth to ensure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible.
MYTH – My gums are bleeding, so I’ll avoid brushing them.
Another very common myth! If your gums bleed, it is because they are inflamed and have a degree of gum disease. Inflammation is caused by plaque which, if left untreated, becomes hard tartar deposits. The plaque and deposits irritate the soft gum tissue, causing redness, swelling and bleeding. Brushing the gums as well as the teeth, and daily interdental cleaning, will remove the soft plaque that is causing the irritation and the gums will soon stop bleeding. If you have bleeding gums, you should arrange to see your dentist or hygienist so they can assess your gum health and advise you on the best course of treatment.
MYTH – The harder I brush, the cleaner my teeth will be.
False! Brushing too hard, particularly if you scrub from side to side, will gradually wear away the enamel and cause grooves in the tooth surface. Loss of enamel exposes the dentine underneath, causing gum recession, tooth sensitivity and increasing the risk of decay.
MYTH – Electric toothbrushes are a waste of money.
Electric toothbrushes are much more effective at removing plaque and cleaning the gums and teeth properly. Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum and hold for three seconds on each surface before moving to the next surface to clean them most effectively.
MYTH – I won’t get any decay if I cut out sweets and chocolate.
While sweets and chocolate play a large part in developing tooth decay, it is just as important to think about other foods as well. Most foods contain sugar, including bread, cereal, crackers and dried fruit. It is important to realise that it is the frequency of sugar intake that increases the decay risk. Any time you eat or drink anything containing sugar, it takes an hour for the mouth to recover. Another large culprit is sugar or honey in hot drinks – switch to sweetener (or try to wean yourself off!) to avoid constantly bathing the teeth in sugar. Limit your sugar intake to mealtimes and drink water, milk or sugarless tea and coffee between meals.
MYTH – I should brush my teeth straight after eating.
While it is important to remove trapped food debris after eating, you should wait for at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Enamel becomes weaker after it has been exposed to food and drink, and brushing straight after eating can gradually remove excess enamel. This can ultimately make your teeth weaker, darker and more sensitive as the underlying dentine becomes more exposed.
MYTH – I should rinse my mouth with water or mouthwash straight after brushing.
After brushing your teeth, you should spit out the excess toothpaste but avoid rinsing your mouth with anything, including mouthwash! Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral that is absorbed through the enamel, strengthening the teeth and helping to protect against decay. Rinsing after brushing is counter-productive, as the fluoride takes about 30 minutes to be absorbed.
MYTH – using mouthwash is as good as brushing my teeth.
Using a mouthwash should never be a substitute for brushing your teeth. A mouthwash will freshen your breath for a short period of time, but plaque and food debris can only be removed by physically cleaning your teeth and gums. While many mouthwashes claim they can help stop bleeding gums, this can actually be detrimental to your oral health. The bleeding may stop, but mouthwash will not remove the underlying cause of gum inflammation or gum disease, giving you a false sense of security. Some mouthwashes, particularly those containing chlorhexidine, can actually stain the teeth too!
If you have any questions, or would like to arrange an appointment, please contact The Dentist @ Tupsley
133 Quarry Road, Hereford HR1 1SX
Tel: 01432 343 158
Founder and editor of FitNet.
Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.