Do you know your dental fact from dental fiction?
Does orange juice harm your teeth? Is brushing twice a day enough? Is flossing really necessary? We look at commonly held beliefs around oral health and reveal which rules to follow – and which to forget.
If the eyes are the gateway to the soul, then the smile must certainly be the path. A nice smile can light up a room, win hearts, engender empathy and end arguments. Yes, your smile is pretty powerful – making your teeth an important asset. Aside from the fact that well-maintained teeth are aesthetically pleasing – giving the whole face a beauty boost – you need your teeth to be in good working order.
From the moment the tooth fairy whisks your last baby tooth away to the moment you tuck into a custard cream aged 93, your teeth are chewing, grinding, biting, crushing and tearing. Teeth play a vital role in the digestive system as a whole.
There is a famous adage that proclaims, ‘ignore your teeth and they’ll go away.’ Put simply – if you fail to care for your pearly whites, they will simply decay and fall out. But what does it really mean to ‘care for’ your teeth? With a dizzying number of dental products on the market and – at times – conflicting reports on dental hygiene best practice, how can you be sure you’re caring for your teeth the right way?
Over the years you will have heard many statements about what’s good or bad for your teeth. Some may even have influenced your daily routine. But is there any truth to these so-called ‘rules’? Can you separate dental fact from dental fiction?
Let’s examine the veracity of the following statements. See which ones you instinctively get right!
Orange juice is good for me
Think orange juice is better for your teeth than fizzy drinks? Think again. This is dental fiction! Orange juice may be packed-full of Vitamin C and beneficial to your overall health, but when it comes to your teeth, think if it as public enemy number one. Orange juice – and other fruit juices – are high in acid and naturally-occurring sugars (fructose).
Over time, these acidic juices can wear away the enamel on your teeth and lead to all manner of dental problems. Juice is particularly dangerous, because people tend to consume it in the morning, right before teeth-brushing. Brushing so soon after drinking an acidic drink just helps the sugars permeate deeper into the enamel.
I brush twice a day, so my teeth are healthy
This is dental fiction! Dental health takes in far more than just when you brush. What you eat (or drink, as outlined above) also impact the state of your teeth. As do visits to the dentist etc. And even the simple statement of ‘I brush twice a day’ is not in itself complete. The frequency is correct. But what about the manner of brushing? Brushing too vigorously, for example, could strip the teeth of enamel or cause the gums to recede. Getting a softer brush is one way to reduce the risk of damage from excessive brushing.
I use a toothbrush, so I don’t need to floss
This is dental fiction! You need more tools in your anti-plaque arsenal. Bacteria and food stuffs can lodge in between the crevices of your teeth and cause decay. Flossing before you brush helps to eliminate a greater percentage of bacteria from your mouth.
I go to the dentist whether my teeth hurt or not
This is dental fact! You should arrange to see your dentist at least once a year – whether you have symptoms of a dental problem or not – to keep your dental health in check.
I find eating hot or cold things painful – but that’s normal
This is dental fiction! Enjoying the foods and drinks you love shouldn’t be a painful ordeal. Consider ramping up your teeth’s defence to sensitivity – so you can drink piping-hot tea and scoff ice-cream with abandon.
I’m too old for braces
This is dental fiction! While it is common for braces to be prescribed to children or teenagers, it is never too late in life to straighten your smile. In fact, as you get older, overcrowding in your mouth can become more of an issue, leading to a build-up of bacteria. Braces can help to even out your teeth and create more regular spaces between each one – reducing the concentration of bacteria.
My gums bleed a little when I brush but it’s nothing to worry about
This is dental fiction! Bleeding gums are very serious and should be taken as an indication that something is very wrong. It is never ‘normal’ for gums to bleed. Bleeding gums can be a symptom of some cancers, cirrhosis of the liver, low platelet count and, more commonly, cavities and gum disease. It is not something to be ignored and should be treated immediately. If left unchecked, gum disease can lead to the recession of the gums that hold your teeth in place – causing them to fall out.
Maybe separating the fact from the fiction will help to bring a little bit of clarity to your daily routine. The more you care for your teeth, the longer you’ll have them. It’s as simple as that.
For more information on dental health, check out the All-Ireland Smiles campaign.
Sensodyne Rapid Relief Toothpaste contains fluoride for cavity protection and helps patients beat sensitivity pain fast. Spitting blood and bleeding gums can be caused by the build-up of plaque bacteria. Corsodyl Ultra Clean toothpaste, is specially formulated for people who spit blood when they brush. Both Sensodyne Rapid Relief and Corsodyl Ultra Clean Toothpaste contain 1450ppm fluoride. For more information, visit https://www.sensodyne.ie or www.corsodyl.ie.