Chances are that you probably learned most of your oral health practices at home from your parents or your siblings. Perhaps you picked up a few at school, from friends or even from surfing the web or social media. Nothing wrong with it, but we have all learned by now that just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true! So, to help you get your dental and oral care facts straight, here are some common are oral health care myths and misconceptions:
Wrong! Hard toothbrushes and “energetic” brushing can contribute to gum recession and even wear down your enamel.
Here is a good example of a misconception, just about every picture you see of someone brushing their teeth shows them gripping the toothbrush with their entire hand. When held like that, a person can exert a lot of pressure. To get an idea of the recommended pressure, hold your toothbrush with just your thumb and one finger rather than in a full grip. You will get an idea of the proper, light pressure needed.
And more is not necessarily better. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush at least twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush–but that does not mean that 6 times a day would be a good idea!
You should choose a toothbrush that has the size and shape that best suits your mouth, and lets you reach all areas easily. And you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are starting to fray.
Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to your gums, and gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes that are enough to cover your teeth. To clean the inner surface of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up and down strokes.
You should also remember that a good tooth brushing takes at least two minutes, so don’t rush the process.
Nope, your toothbrush is essentially your “first line of defense” against nasty things such as cavities, tooth decay, and gingivitis. But if you don’t take proper care of your toothbrush, then it can become a “delivery truck” for all kinds of pathogens that don’t belong in your mouth.
Fortunately there are some things you can do. Here are some useful tips to properly care for your toothbrush:
You’ve probably had the idea that “sugar rots your teeth” hardwired into your brain, right? While there is a relationship between the high consumption of sugary foods and the formation of cavities, a relation is not the same as the “cause of something.”
Cavities, or dental caries, are basically places where your tooth enamel has eroded and that hard, protective layer has been broken through. These cavities are formed when the bacteria in your mouth digest carbohydrate debris left on the surface of your teeth after eating. This is not just from sugar, in fact some of the worst offenders can be “healthy” foods such as whole grains, and fruit.
Cavities are primarily caused by plaque, which is a clear, sticky film that covers your teeth and can over time harden to become tartar. The acids in plaque erode the minerals in your tooth’s outer layer, or enamel. Once the enamel has been worn away, the softer, inner layer of your tooth, called dentin, is exposed and is a lot less resistant to acid than enamel.
The bottomline is that sugar alone does not cause cavities. In fact, even drinking carbonated drinks containing phosphoric and citric acids, as well as a high consumption of highly acidic foods, even citrus fruits, can erode enamel. And so, it isn’t enough to cutdown on sugary treats alone.
Realize that even healthy foods can contribute to tooth decay. Understanding this, you should also take steps to prevent the buildup of plaque through regular tooth brushing and flossing, as well as a semi-annual professional cleaning. You can also consider a water, or salt water, rinse and swish after eating, or drinking. You can also try an essential oil blend, such as OraRestore from Great Oral Health, as a means of controlling bacterial growth throughout the day.
Water Is Only Good for Swishing Away Food Debris
Yes, you’re probably aware that drinking sufficient quantities of water is essential to staying healthy. But you probably did not connect this habit to a healthy mouth as well.
It is true, drinking sufficient amounts of water daily can impact your oral health in a big way. But this is not only because swishing with water helps to clean your mouth of lingering food that cavity-causing bacteria might feed on.
The most important thing is that adequate saliva production is CRITICAL to maintaining a healthy mouth and strong teeth. Keeping well hydrated helps to ensure that your mouth produces sufficient amounts of saliva.
Saliva not only assists in keeping the growth of harmful bacteria in check, it also helps reduce the acids in your mouth and actually provides mineralization support to your enamel.
So, help keep your teeth and gums healthy–plus have fresher breath–by staying adequately hydrated.
The Reason that You Floss Is to Remove Food Particles
You know by now that it is important to remove food debris from the mouth. And if this is the only reason that you think you need to floss, then you might find yourself being inconsistent–or not flossing at all!
But removing food is only a small part of the picture. The most important reason that you floss is to prevent the buildup of plaque. Bacteria has a growth cycle and when you floss you actually disturb and break-up that growth cycle. It generally takes the bacteria a day to regroup. This is why DAILY flossing is so important (twice a day is better) as you aren’t just removing food debris, you are actually breaking up the bacteria party that is taking place on your teeth and your gums.
Based on this, recent studies indicate that you should floss first and then brush. This sequence has been shown to provide better plaque reduction. The flossing loosens up the plaque and brushing is now more effective at removal. Your oral care regimen should then be followed by a water rinse and swish, to best clear bacteria and debris.
Of course, you should remember to floss gently so as to avoid damaging your gums. Carefully guide the floss between your teeth without using too much force. Rub the floss back and forth, then up and down, curving it around each tooth while doing so. As with toothbrushes, it is important to choose the right kind of floss for your needs. Waxed floss typically slides more easily between your teeth. Floss also comes in thin or wide sizes, and you should choose the size that best suits your particular teeth.
Bacteria Is BAD and You Should Kill It Off for a Healthy Mouth
Drug companies and other product companies have sold us on the idea of eradicating all germs and bacteria. Yet the truth is that our human bodies are a solid partnership between human cells and bacterial cells. Without bacteria you would die. In fact, your well being, both physically and emotionally, depends upon a healthy balance of bacteria throughout your body.
Your mouth is no exception. There are dozens and dozens of strains of bacteria in your mouth. The problem is not that there is bacteria in your mouth but that certain “bad” bacteria take over and the resulting imbalance contributes to conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and more.
One effective way to boost the healthy balance in your mouth is to supplement with a good blend of oral probiotic strains. The regular use of these will populate beneficial bacteria back into your oral cavity and these will then “crowd out” the overgrowth of the damaging strains of bacteria. It is a good way to naturally restore a healthy environment to your mouth and to support overall good oral health.
Some of the benefits associated with the ongoing use of oral probiotics are:
Additionally, by providing support against oral health disease, the use of oral probiotics helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and other ills linked to poor oral health.
Note: oral probiotics are different than those taken for the gut. And so, an oral probiotic will not replace your gut supplements or vice versa.
I Don’t Have Cavities, So Why See a Dentist?
Of course, this list would not be complete without discussing the elephant in the room: regular visits to the dentist. You should typically visit your dentist once every six months for cleanings and to catch any problems early on when they are easy to fix.
The problem is most people put this off. Often this is due to simple neglect or that idea that dental visits are a “low priority. Or it could be due to fear of dentists. Or even financial reasons–which don’t make too much sense as dental repairs can become very expensive if not treated early on.
As unpleasant a prospect a visit to the dentist may be, your oral health will be much better off from regular dental visits. Not only will you be able to detect and handle problems early on (less expense, less time and less pain!) but dental visits also ensure your teeth get cleaned at a level that is simply impossible to achieve from regular brushing or flossing.
A study published in the March 2010 issue of the Journal of Dental Research determined that regular visits to the dentist were instrumental in promoting demonstrably better oral health as a whole. So, the next time you get the urge to skip your upcoming dental appointment, do yourself (and your teeth a favor), and don’t!
Oral health isn’t rocket science, but it does take a commitment and perhaps most importantly, CONSISTENCY.
Studies have shown that it takes about 66 days to cement a new habit or routine, so here is your challenge: put these tips to work for the next two months and set yourself up for a future of great oral health!