When it comes to protecting your oral health, it’s easy to find yourself facing conflicting information that makes it difficult to know the best practices for enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. While we encourage our patients to feel free to ask questions when visiting our general dentistry in Eugene, many of Dr. Feldmanis’ patients may not know to ask about an oral health topic because they already believe they have the answer.
Does using whitening toothpaste damage your teeth? Do silver fillings really present a long-term health risk? Does eating too much sugar really cause cavities? When it comes to understanding the intricacies of your oral health, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction.
Despite this difficulty, research has found that your mouth can say a lot about your overall health. With this in mind, here are a few common dental myths – along with some helpful facts – that you should know before your next visit to see Dr. Feldmanis.
Myth: Sugar Causes Cavities
Ever since childhood we’ve been warned that eating too much sugar will rot our teeth. However, it really turns out that the primary cause of cavities is plaque, sticky biofilm that clings to the surface of our teeth and along the gum line.
Plaque uses the sugars we consume to produce harmful acids that slowly erode away our tooth enamel, which protects the delicate interior of our teeth. The more sugar we consume the more fuel we provide plaque to create acids. Over the years, the acids breakdown our enamel, causing cavities to develop. Once a tooth begins to decay, the chance of gum disease developing and the need for fillings also increases.
In addition to brushing and flossing daily, eating a balanced diet is one of the best practices we can have for lowering our risk of tooth decay. Cutting back on the amount of soda, chocolates, candies, and pastas we consume can greatly improve our long-term oral health. Not because sugar is directly responsible for causing cavities, but because too much sugar provides plaque what it needs to wreak havoc on our oral health.
Myth: Mouthwash Brands with Alcohol are the Most Effective
Actually, studies have shown that the best brands of mouthwash are those that contain no alcohol at all. Alcohol can have a dehydrating effect, and not just when you have a couple of drinks. When rinsing with an alcohol based mouthwash, not only do you kill of some of the germs that linger in the mouth, you also run the risk of drying your mouth out.
Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense against plaque and other harmful oral substances. When you rinse with a mouthwash that contains alcohol at night or during the day, you risk drying your mouth out so that it has a harder time keeping the acids created by plaque in check.
Myth: Whiter Teeth Means Healthier Teeth
While a beautifully bright smile might look incredibly healthy, whiter teeth don’t necessarily mean a healthier mouth. White teeth may still hide an infection or cavities between the teeth. In fact, the natural color of an individual’s teeth varies from person to person. Some people may enjoy a wonderfully white smile even if they have a serious daily coffee or tea habit, while others may have teeth that stain easily or have a naturally darker shade.
Since you can’t judge the health of a tooth by its color, it’s important that patients schedule regular visits to our general dentistry in Eugene to maintain their long-term oral health.
Myth: You Shouldn’t Brush Bleeding Gums
Gums bleed after brushing or flossing as a result of an infection caused by plaque and gum disease. Brushing your gums, even if bleeding, helps to remove plaque buildup. An excessive amount of plaque can cause the inflammation that leads to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease.
While brushing can help heal your gums and prevent bleeding in the future, you need to brush a little more gently to prevent further irritation. Try brushing at an angel to avoid causing any further damage to your gums.
Myth: You Don’t Need to Floss
Despite some recent news reports, flossing still plays a vital role in promoting quality long-term oral health. That’s because flossing helps to remove food particles from areas of your mouth a toothbrush cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line. If you don’t take time to floss daily, you’re not cleaning over 30 percent of your teeth surface or below the gum line.
Bacteria that builds up in these hard to clean areas can cause a variety of problems that range from cavities to gum disease and oral pain. It’s no surprise that the most common place for cavities to develop is actually between an individual’s teeth. Flossing ranks as an inexpensive and vital part of any quality daily oral hygiene regimen.