5 myths you might believe about your teeth

We all know the basics of looking after our oral health and hygiene, such as regular brushing, and trying to avoid too many of those tempting sugar attacks! Over the years though, sometimes misconceptions and old wives tales can start sneaking into public consciousness, and eventually these can end up becoming quite persistent and even harmful myths. The team and I hear some quite strange ones occasionally at AP Smilecare – here are five of the most common!

Myth #1 – Children don’t need to see a dentist

This is a particularly widespread one, which is worrying in itself to be honest. In 2018, a study found that more than half of children under the age of four (almost 58%) didn’t see an NHS dentist. Take it from me – if you’re a parent, it’s really important that you make sure you do! Children’s oral health is just as important as the rest of their wellbeing, so it’s best to see a dentist as soon as their first teeth start coming through.

Why are children not attending the dentist?

A related myth that the team and I sometimes hear is one that says milk teeth don’t really matter, since they’ll fall out anyway. In reality though, tooth decay affects both permanent teeth and deciduous ones (milk teeth). If milk teeth decay, the result is often pain and infection, which nobody wants for their child! (And it’s worth bearing in mind that tooth decay is the leading cause for general anaesthetic for children under 5 here in the UK.) What’s more, milk teeth act as a guide for the adult teeth coming through – so if they’re gone early because of tooth decay, adult teeth can start emerging in the wrong places, that can cause problems later in life. The best way to prevent this is to practice good oral hygiene, limit the amount of sugar young children consume, and arrange regular dentist visits.

Myth #2 – If you’re not in pain, you don’t need to see a dentist

This is another quite risky one, mostly because a lot of oral health conditions begin painlessly. By the time you start to experience pain or discomfort, it’s often a sign that the damage has already progressed to quite an advanced stage. It’s one of the reasons that gingivitis and other dental diseases can be so harmful – because they’re able to go undetected for quite a long time!

What’s more, your oral health also affects your overall health, as I detailed in a recent blog. For this reason alone, it’s important to have regular checkups – generally, the official advice is once every six months or so.

Myth #3 – You shouldn’t brush bleeding gums

It’s easy to see why this misconception exists, as it sounds like common sense. Actually though, the opposite is true! Gums bleed when they’re damaged, and the best way to help them heal is to continue or improve your oral care regime. Plaque and food buildup are amongst the chief culprits for gums to end up irritated or inflamed, which is how they can start to bleed. The best course of action is to brush them gently, but if you experience sustained bleeding, then it’s a good idea to consult a dental expert like myself or one of the team here at AP Smilecare.

checking the gums

Myth #4 – You should brush your teeth straight after eating meals or sugar

Again, it’s easy to see where this one comes from, as the idea is that it cleans out any food particles that are still left in your teeth, or lingering bits of sugar from a sugar attack! It’s better to leave it a little bit though – after a meal your teeth take a little time to deal with the sugar and acid in your food, and during this time the enamel is actually a bit weaker. Instead, it’s best to rise your mouth out with water, or chew sugarless gum to get your saliva going (saliva is great for your teeth, as it neutralises plaque acids). Half an hour after eating, your enamel should have hardened up again, so you’re free to brush away!

Myth #5 – Rinse your mouth out with water after brushing

You may have heard the term ‘spit not rinse’, although possibly out of context. (If nothing else, it sounds like a terrible way to do the dishes.) But yes, it refers to our teeth. When you brush your teeth, if you immediately rinse them out with water then it removes a lot of the fluoride, which contains a tonne of ingredients that help to strengthen your tooth enamel and protect it from the cavity-causing acid that bacteria produces. The longer it’s left to work its magic on your teeth, the healthier they’ll be. So… spit, don’t rinse!

And of course, if you’ve got any remaining questions about your oral health (or any of the treatments we offer here at AP Smilecare), don’t hesitate to let us know! I’m always happy to help patients, as are all the other team members – your oral health is our priority. If you want more information, or to book an appointment at our Blackburn dental clinic, just give us a call on 01254 270 000. The Covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing at the time of writing, so don’t hesitate to take advantage of our brand new Remote Appointment service!