Debunking 10 Myths About Oral Hygiene

Are You Aware of the Importance of Oral Hygiene in Relation to Overall Health? Unveiling Some Common Misconceptions and Truths.

10 Myths And Facts On Oral Hygiene
10 Myths And Facts On Oral Hygiene

For years, oral hygiene myths have persisted, passed down from one generation to another. While tips for proper oral care can be found in print or online, a significant portion of this information is often inaccurate or deceptive. Dr. Vidya Saraswathi M from Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, shed light on these common misconceptions about oral hygiene. Speaking to Onlymyhealth, she clarified the truth behind these myths and presented the facts that everyone should be aware of.

Myth 1: Dental cavities are solely caused by consuming sweets and sugar

Fact: While high sugar intake, particularly processed sugar, increases the risk of tooth decay, cavities aren’t solely caused by sugar consumption. Even with a low sugar diet, improper brushing and flossing habits can still pose a risk. Decay isn’t directly caused by sugar itself, but rather by certain mouth bacteria breaking down dietary sugar, releasing acids that erode enamel—the outer protective layer of teeth—leading to cavity formation.

Myth 1: Dental cavities are solely caused by consuming sweets and sugar

Myth 2: Brushing harder with a hard-bristled toothbrush cleans teeth better

Fact: This belief is entirely incorrect and can even be counterproductive. Brushing too hard can damage tooth enamel, accelerating the loss of tooth structure prematurely. Additionally, it can cause bruising of the soft tissues surrounding the teeth, leading to gum recession. Hence, it’s advisable to use gentle strokes with soft-bristled brushes. Brushing gently in circular motions while holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth is recommended for optimal oral hygiene.

Myth 3: If you have bleeding gums, do not brush or floss for a few days

Fact: Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing are typically caused by gum inflammation, often due to plaque or tartar buildup leading to gum disease. This condition may also be indicative of broader health issues. It’s important to maintain regular oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing, and consult your dentist for guidance and treatment.

Myth 4: Flossing doesn’t contribute to oral hygiene practices and can lead to gaps between the teeth

Fact: Flossing plays a crucial role in oral hygiene by removing plaque and food particles trapped between adjacent teeth. While it’s true that flossing might not be necessary if the contact between two adjacent teeth is tight, regular flossing is still beneficial for overall oral health. It helps prevent problems such as gingival recession or spacing between teeth, which can lead to plaque or food particle accumulation. Therefore, incorporating flossing into your oral hygiene routine is important for maintaining optimal oral health.

Myth 5: Oral disease is only a concern for the mouth

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, oral disease doesn’t just affect the mouth. Bacteria present in the mouth, particularly in the gums, can potentially spread to other parts of the body. Recent scientific research has revealed correlations between gum disease and various systemic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, and certain forms of cancer. This highlights the interconnectedness of oral health with overall bodily health, emphasizing the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene for overall well-being.

Myth 6: As you age, teeth inevitably become unhealthy

Fact: The health of your teeth isn’t solely determined by age. Younger individuals who haven’t maintained good oral hygiene may experience tooth loss at a young age. Conversely, individuals who have consistently practiced good oral hygiene throughout their lives can maintain healthy teeth well into their senior years. Thus, proper oral care habits play a more significant role than age in determining dental health.

Myth 6: As you age, teeth inevitably become unhealthy

Myth 7: Placing a cap on your toothbrush shields it from bacteria

Fact: Contrary to the myth, placing a cap on your toothbrush doesn’t protect it from bacteria. In reality, toothbrushes should be kept dry to prevent bacteria growth on the bristles. It’s important to avoid storing your toothbrush near others’ toothbrushes to prevent the exchange of germs. Furthermore, capping your toothbrush should be avoided as it can trap moisture and promote bacterial growth. Instead, rinse your toothbrush thoroughly after each use and allow it to air dry between brushings to maintain hygiene.

Myth 8: It is a good practice to brush teeth immediately after eating

Fact: Brushing your teeth immediately after eating isn’t advisable. The acid present in food and drinks can soften the enamel, making it more susceptible to damage during brushing. It’s recommended to wait for at least 30 minutes after eating to allow saliva to dilute and remove the acid content from the mouth before brushing. This helps to protect the enamel and maintain optimal oral health.

Myth 9: Some people mistakenly believe that using mouthwash alone is sufficient to substitute for the essential oral hygiene practices of brushing and flossing

Fact: While mouthwash can provide temporary freshness and help remove bacteria, it’s crucial to understand that only brushing and flossing can effectively eliminate food particles and plaque from your teeth for optimal oral hygiene.

Myth 9: Some people mistakenly believe that using mouthwash alone is sufficient to substitute for the essential oral hygiene practices of brushing and flossing

Myth 10: It is commonly believed that professional teeth cleaning every six months is necessary

Fact: Regular dental visits are crucial for preventive care, as “prevention is better than cure.” However, the necessity of professional teeth cleaning depends on individual factors assessed by your dentist. Tartar and plaque buildup vary among individuals, hence the frequency of cleaning may differ. Following your dentist’s recommendations is key. Be proactive in maintaining oral health by visiting your dentist regularly and dedicating time each day to oral hygiene. This proactive approach can save you significant trouble in the long run.

Expert insight provided by Dr. Vidya Saraswathi M, Associate Dean and Professor in the Department of Conservative Dentistry & Endodontics at Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal Academy of Higher Education.