We all know the importance of brushing our teeth and flossing, but there’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to our oral health resulting in a waste of money, gum disease, tooth loss and more.
To clear up the confusion, Dr. Susan Maples, author of Blabber Mouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You To Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life, who has been named one of the top eight innovators in U.S. dentistry, breaks through some of the biggest myths about our oral health.
- Swish off the claims about mouth rinses. Nix mouthwashes with alcohol because this is a preserving agent that can actually cause oral cancer. Stay away from mouthwashes that claim to make you teeth feel smooth as they contain a detergent that coats the plaque and debris trapping it underneath the slick. Finally, save your money on rinses that claim to “whiten” teeth. It doesn’t work in the typical 30-second rinse.
- Tooth lightening: The secret to pearly whites or is it? Tooth lightening can brighten your teeth, but chasing an unceasing glow-in-the-dark smile can damage pulp and cause teeth to die. Over-the-counter products will only lighten your teeth by one or two shades. Avoid one-hour laser or light therapy because it’s temporary and dehydrates the teeth. The best results come through bleaching with custom trays only available through your dentist.
- How hard should it be? The only choice for hardness in a toothbrush is not hard at all. Make sure you always choose soft bristles to avoid traumatizing your gums. Scrubbing with a medium or hard bristle brush can make the gums recede from the teeth and it’s irreversible except through surgery.
Get probed. Your dentist should provide a thorough perio exam at least once each year that includes “pocket” measurements using a probe around the cuff of each tooth. Good numbers are 3 mm or less. Bad are 4mm or worse. Periodontal disease is the #1 reason adults lose teeth, and unlike other bones in your body which can heal when broken, the bone you lose around your teeth doesn’t grow back.
- Let ‘em bleed. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, don’t stop your routine. Bleeding is a natural response when you clean inflamed gums and isn’t from brushing or flossing too hard. Keep at it to reduce the bacteria and avoid periodontal disease. The bleeding will subside as the bacteria load is cleaned up.
- The lowdown on tooth sensitivity. A cold-sensitive tooth does not signify a dying tooth like a heat-sensitive tooth does. Cold sensitivity can heal and reverse itself. Toothaches stimulated by heat or biting pressure toothaches that appear without any stimulus are signs that you pulp is dying and you need a root canal.
Dr Susan Maples book, Blabbermouth can be ordered here.