Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Top 5 Oral Health Misconceptions

When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, there are unfortunately many widespread, common misconceptions about how to go about it. This is, we believe, to a large extent due to the fact that there exists in the public's psyche at large a myriad of "old wives tales" that have been passed down so long throughout time that they often unfortunately become taken as truth. So, without further ado, we here at the Oakville Place Dental Office Blog present the top 5 misconceptions about oral health.

1. Hard Bristles Equal a Thorough Brushing

Although we've covered this topic before on this blog, it seems to us that it bears repeating, due to just how commonly held this misconception is by so may people. Of course, probably one of the reasons that so many people continue to believe that a stiff brush will more effectively clean teeth is a pretty logical one; just like a scrub-brush will do a better job of cleaning the dishes than a simple sponge, it is believed that applying a harsher tool to the teeth will make more efficient work of ridding them of plague build-up. However, the use of too stiff of a brush can lead to early erosion of the enamel of your teeth, so it is important to use a soft brush, and then just brush more thoroughly.

2. Using Toothpicks is Good for Your Gums

Unfortunately, there is a new school of thought that using toothpicks thoroughly along the gum line can increase circulation and thus improve gum health. Some folks even believe that using toothpicks can serve as a replacement for dental floss! However, this is sadly not the case, because the use of toothpicks to clean out food in between the teeth can often cause more harm than good, leading to injured gums and even further erosion of the teeth themselves, due to the often rough surfaces of toothpicks. So; stick to dental floss!

3. The Use of Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Agents

What with the relatively high price of having your teeth whitened by a professional, many end up believing that they can save money, and even time, by using over-the-counter teeth-whitening products. While it is true that many of these products can help whiten your teeth a certain amount, the results that they generally yield do not even come close to touching the level of whitening that you can be achieved by having it done professionally. Also, there is what is called a "catch-22" situation that can arise when it comes to these OTC whitening products, because the more potentially effective these products can be, the more likely that they can be dangerous for the consumer if they are used improperly, which generally isn't that hard to do, considering the dedication that it takes to use them correctly in the first place. In addition to this, by having the whitening treatment done by your dentist, you are more likely to enjoy more lasting results, as well.

4. The Avoidance of Brushing Due to Bleeding Gums

Though this may seem counter-intuitive to most of us, there are some folks out there who believe that if their gums start bleeding, they should lighten up on the brushing, usually because this is when their gums are more likely to bleed in the first place. However, quite the opposite is usually the case; most people who experience bleeding of the gums are having this happen due to the fact that they haven't been brushing (and flossing) enough in the first place, which can cause inflammation of the gums, and they just need to continue practicing the act of thorough brushing (with a soft bristled brush, of course!) and the situation will usually resolve itself as the gums slowly toughen up. However, it should be stated that if you experience long-term bleeding of the gums you should definitely inform your dentist of this, and, actually, any incedence of bleeding of the gums should be mentioned to your dentist as well.

5. Misconceptions About Children's Teeth

Although it is easy to understand why there would be many misconceptions when it comes to dental care for young children (first-time parents especially), the most common of these misconceptions can be very harmful to the children involved. The first of these involves the common and seemingly innocuous act of leaving a baby's bottle in the child's mouth to calm it down. Unfortunately, most milk products contain a certain amount of sugar, and by leaving the bottle in the baby's mouth they are creating a scenario in which the child's teeth will be immersed in milk for long periods of time, which can promote the existence of bacteria and decay of the teeth in the not-so-distant future.

Which brings us to the other common misconception about dental health that specifically applies to children; many parents unfortunately believe that, since children's "baby teeth" will all be eventually replaced by adult teeth, they do not need the attention and care that adult teeth require. However, this is indeed false. From as early as age two, young children can indeed benefit from dental care, if only to teach the children as early on as possible the importance of taking care of their teeth. Also, just because baby teeth are essentially temporary, if problems with them become serious enough they can effect the young child's overall health, so consistently taking young children to their dental visits is of the utmost importance.

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