Do we really need the floss? For a number of years dentists have been recommending that we should floss every time that we brush our teeth, but guidance from Public Health England has recently suggested that there is no strong evidence that flossing is worthwhile as a part of your dental hygiene routine.
This has caused controversy, as dentists have disagreed with the official analysis. The jury is still out flossing, but there are some spurious ‘facts’ about dental hygiene hanging around which are nothing more than myths. Let’s have a look at eight of the most common and try to understand the truth about them.
Myth One: You should brush your teeth straight after eating
Some people believe that the more tooth brushing you do, the better your dental hygiene will be. While it’s true that you should brush your teeth twice a day, there’s no need to become overzealous – in fact it can actually start to damage your teeth. It can be very tempting to grab your toothbrush after a meal in order to freshen up and get rid of the feeling and taste of food in your mouth, but this could be doing more harm than good.
There is evidence to show that brushing your teeth within half an hour of eating a meal can damage enamel. Food and drink usually contains acid, and that will weaken enamel, leaving it vulnerable. If you brush immediately, it can be abrasive to the teeth and wear down the enamel. It takes a little while for saliva to wash away the acid from your mouth, so if you feel that you have to brush after a meal, leave it for half an hour or so.
Myth Two: You need to let bleeding gums heal
What do you do if you discover your gums have been bleeding after you brush your teeth? Many people think it’s a good idea to give your teeth a break from brushing for a couple of days to allow the gums to heal up. But this is actually a very bad idea. Bleeding gums are very rarely a sign of aggressive brushing, and often indicate gum disease which will not heal unless you brush regularly.
Myth Three: White teeth are the healthiest teeth
There is a misconception that having bright white teeth must indicate that they are in good condition. But remember that this is not always the case. The natural colour of teeth varies drastically from person to person, so it’s perfectly possible for someone to have darker or yellowed teeth that are in much better condition than some that are very white. Likewise you shouldn’t assume that just because your teeth are white that they are in good condition.
Myth Four: You need to brush your tongue
Tongue brushing became fashionable a few years ago when toothbrushes started featuring a tongue cleaner, usually on the back of the head of the brush. Tongue cleaning is not endorsed as being important for dental hygiene by dentists or Public Health England, which indicates that it cannot be seen as a priority. Instead, you should focus on practicing other forms of good dental hygiene rather than wasting time on tongue brushing.
Myth Five: Seeing the dentist is only for people with bad teeth
One myth that seems to still have traction is that idea that you only need to see a dentist if you start feeling pain or noticing other problems with your teeth. In truth it is sensible to have regular check-ups even if your dental health has always been good. For people at high risk it’s generally recommended to have a check-up every through months, while those with fewer risk factors generally have to visit less often.
Myth Six: Mouthwash can substitute for brushing
Mouthwash is designed to complement tooth brushing, not act as a replacement for it. Brushing your teeth is undoubtedly the most important aspect of dental hygiene and if you start simply rinsing your mouth instead, it will be very bad for your teeth in the long-term.
Myth Seven: Teeth whitening damages your teeth
As we previously mentioned, white teeth do not equal healthy teeth, but still many people like to have their teeth bleached or whitened, usually for the cosmetic appeal. There have been suggestions that this kind of whitening may cause damage to your teeth, however, it should be noted that if you go to a professional dentist they will use pH neutral materials in order to whiten the teeth, this means that the enamel itself will not be damaged.
Myth Eight: Maintaining dental health is difficult
Actually, maintaining your dental health is easy: brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes (ideally when you wake up and just before you go to bed), reduce your intake of sugary foods and avoid items that can stain teeth, such as tobacco. You can also use mouthwash and floss if you want to spend additional time ensuring your mouth is healthy.
Article provided by Sara Bryant, an independent content writer working alongside a selection of companies including Precision Dentistry, who were consulted over this post.