How often should you brush and floss? What really causes cavities? We’re debunking some common misconceptions concerning your dental health.
“Only sugary foods and liquids cause cavities”
Sugary foods and liquids, in fact, do not directly cause cavities. Carbohydrates of all varieties (including sugars), in conjunction with certain types of bacteria, promote the production of acids in the mouth. These acids, which over time weaken tooth enamel, eventually cause cavities, decay, and infections. While sugars are one of the primary promoters of cavities in the mouth, cavities can just as easily formed by any carbohydrates like breads, pastas, crackers, or potato chips.
A reduction of the time (not solely the amount) in which your teeth are exposed to carbohydrates including sugars, along with proper daily oral hygiene practices, can help lessen the probability of cavities, infections, and decay from forming.
“It is best to brush right after every meal”
Brushing and flossing your teeth twice per day is an integral part of maintaining proper oral health. However, brushing teeth immediately after consuming a meal can actually be a harmful and damaging practice. During meals, tooth enamel (a protective covering) softens when the mouth is exposed to acidic foods and liquids. Brushing directly afterward when the enamel is in this softened and weakened state, can increase the likelihood of enamel erosion. Accordingly, it is recommended that you wait at least 30-60 minutes after a meal to brush your teeth, particularly if highly acidic foods and liquids are consumed.
“Brush and floss less if gums are bleeding”
Although it may seem counterintuitive when your gums are bleeding, you should not leave them alone and brush or floss any less. It is normal for gums to occasionally become irritated and bleed when removing plaque and debris through brushing and flossing.
However, if you have been brushing and flossing regularly and notice that your gums still continue to bleed, it may be symptomatic of the periodontal gum condition gingivitis. To evaluate your oral hygiene practices and begin treatment for any potential gum conditions, please schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
“No pain means no problems”
Experiencing or not experiencing pain in your mouth is not an accurate indicator of oral health. Often infection and decay can occur throughout the mouth without causing any abnormal feelings or pain at all.
When pains do develop, they may actually be a lagging rather than a preceding indicator that serious problems have already emerged. Therefore avoid waiting until pains fully develop to seek professional care, and as always practice proper daily oral hygiene and schedule regular visits with your dentist.
“Whitening will weaken teeth”
If administered properly and professionally by your dentist, whitening treatments will not damage your teeth. Some temporary irritation to teeth and gums, especially for those with preexisting sensitivity, is possible within the first 24 to 48 hours following a treatment. Ongoing research studies however, have indicated no long-term consequence of using low level hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide whitening treatments on tooth enamel density and composition.
Teeth whitening products and treatments are not the all the same unfortunately. Excessively using some non-professionally administered products (such as strips, trays, pastes, gels, and gums) can potentially strip tooth enamel, burn gums, harm root structure, and cause extreme sensitivity.
To avoid any possible problems with teeth whitening, please discuss any concerns or questions with your dentist and always consult before considering any treatment options.
“Dental visits are only necessary every six months”
For the majority of people, having a dental check-up every six months is appropriate. Sometimes however, depending on the state of your oral or overall health and risk of getting cavities or gum disease, more frequent or fewer check-ups may be necessary. Your dentist is best suited to perform your risk assessment and determine your appropriate check-up and cleaning schedule.
Regardless of the frequency of your dental visitations, your oral care is primarily your responsibility. Continue to practice good oral hygiene, consume a healthy diet, and follow all recommendations given to you by your dentist and dental hygienist.
Questions? Just call the Dorosti Dental Team at 740/452-3697.