Odds are good you don’t need to be told how important taking care of your oral health is. You probably know it’s necessary to brush and floss your teeth and gums every day. You’ve been told to (and hopefully do!) see your dentist every six months. If your dentist recommends specialized treatment, such as oral surgery, you’ve heeded their advice and taken appropriate action.
You rely on your teeth every single day. That’s why dentists and oral surgeons emphasize the importance of taking care of them. That said, oral health can be a complex topic. There are unfortunately several misconceptions about the subject that many patients fall prey to. You may have even believed some of the following myths yourself.
This blog will help you better understand how you may not be caring for your teeth and gums quite as well as you think. Luckily, by knowing what you’re doing wrong, you can make the necessary changes.
Of course, if you ever feel as though you’re misunderstanding an oral health topic, you can always discuss your concerns with a dentist or oral surgeon. They’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Myth: Sugar Is the Primary Cause of Cavities.
It’s worth noting that this point isn’t meant to suggest that consuming excessive amounts of sugar is a good idea. Sugar can contribute dental decay. However, researchers believe it’s not the sole culprit when cavities develop.
Instead, many dental experts now believe that the primary cause of cavities are bacteria that combine with saliva to produce an acidic byproduct that creates plaque buildup. In essence, the bacteria in your mouth feed off the sugars in carbohydrates (think starchy foods like breads, pasta, and baked goods) to eat away at teeth.
That said, this point also reveals why it’s a good idea to brush and floss at least twice a day. As these acids and bacteria develop, you want to prevent them from accumulating on your teeth in the form of plaque.
It’s also a good idea to stay hydrated as much as possible. After all, staying hydrated is already important to your overall wellness. From an oral health perspective, drinking water frequently can also rinse away much of the bacteria in your mouth, further guarding against cavities and gum disease.
Myth: Oral Health Is Separate from General Health.
Some people make the mistake of thinking different aspects of their health are unrelated to each other. For instance, even if their oral health is poor, they may assume this has a limited impact on their cardiovascular health, or mental health, etc.
This is not the case. Your body is a system with interconnected parts. There are many ways in which your oral health affects your body (and potentially your mind) in general.
For example, it’s been shown that sometimes, when a person has gum disease, bacteria can enter the bloodstream. This has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease.
Poor dental health can also affect your overall wellness in ways that may at first seem indirect. For instance, perhaps you lose a tooth. If you don’t replace it with a dental implant or similar substitute, you’ll find chewing to be much more difficult than it once was. This can also happen if you have an unaddressed oral health problem that results in dental pain. Over time, the difficulty involved in simply chewing your food may cause you to change your eating habits, and not necessarily for the better. You might end up lacking key nutrients because you haven’t been eating enough.
You should also consider the degree to which your oral health may impact your mental health. Unfortunately, oral health issues like missing teeth can affect your appearance—many people feel self-conscious or ashamed of such problems, though they absolutely shouldn’t. A dentist or oral surgeon can help.
Myth: Bleeding Gums When Flossing Means You Should Back Off.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can skip flossing if you’ve brushed thoroughly. Flossing regularly is just as important as brushing your teeth. Floss can reach surfaces a toothbrush can’t. In fact, flossing does about 40% of the work involved in removing plaque from your teeth, according to WebMD.
That said, some people mistakenly assume they should leave their gums alone if they start to bleed when they are flossing, thinking that this means they’ve flossed too aggressively or applied too much pressure. In reality, bleeding gums are often a sign you should be flossing more often.
Gums bleed during flossing because a buildup of bacteria has caused inflammation. That’s less likely to occur if you floss every day. Of course, if your gums often bleed, you should also seek care from a dentist.
Remember, your dentist and oral surgeon want you to stay as healthy as possible, and education is a big part of that. That’s why they’ll gladly answer your questions during appointments. Talk to these professionals, and you’ll avoid falling prey to misconceptions such as these.