Think you have your oral health all figured out? Take our mini-quiz to determine whether you know the truth behind common dental misconceptions.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is enough to maintain good oral hygiene
False. While brushing your teeth at least twice a day is essential to good oral hygiene, brushing alone only removes up to 70% of bad bacteria and can’t protect your teeth from the buildup of plaque or the breakdown of tooth enamel. Flossing and using antibacterial mouthwashes are also essential parts of your daily hygiene routine. Make sure you brush your tongue as well and floss thoroughly to keep your gums healthy and reach the spaces between your teeth.
Bleeding gums is a bad sign
True. Even if you don’t have pain while flossing or brushing, it’s usually a bad sign if your gums are bleeding. Weak gums are more prone to damage and recession, sensitivity, and bacteria buildup that can lead to gum disease. If you notice that your gums bleed while you floss, brush, or eat, talk to your dentist right away to prevent gum damage and further complications.
Anyone can get a cavity
True. Cavities aren’t just a danger to kids; adults, even adults with a history of great dental health, can develop cavities if their oral hygiene declines. In fact, some adults are at greater risk for cavities than children. Over time, gum recession and normal enamel breakdown can expose teeth and gums to plaque buildup. Some older adults develop cavities because they didn’t employ proper oral hygiene when they were younger. As you get older, be sure to check in regularly with your dentist to help prevent cavities that can compromise your health.
There is no “right” way to floss
False. Flossing takes a bit of practice. Fortunately, once you learn the proper method, flossing can become second nature, like brushing your teeth. The best technique for flossing is to hold the floss taught and pull it between your teeth all the way up to the gum line (without hurting your gums). Wrap the floss around one tooth, and pull it gently against the side of your tooth as you wiggle it out. Repeat this between the same two teeth, gently scraping off food scraps and plaque that build up to where your toothbrush can’t reach. This ensures that bacteria don’t have a chance to grow in those hard-to-reach places.
Oral health affects your overall health
True. Think about it this way: your health is largely based on what you put in your body—if part of what you’re putting in your body passes through a mouth filled with bacteria, decay, or infection, the rest of your body will suffer. A “bad tooth” can cause illness. Additionally, problems like tooth decay or gum disease can cause issues with proper chewing and swallowing. Finally, oral issues can be indicative of or linked to problems with digestion; for example, acid reflux can lead to dry-mouth and can irritate the throat, mouth, and nasal passages.
Cavities are caused by sweets
False. Although sweets are typically the most condemned as the cause of cavities, the same tooth decay can occur from eating any carbohydrate, like fruit, bread, or chips. When you eat carbohydrates, the bacteria in your mouth produce acid to help break down the food; however, this acid also begins to dissolve your tooth enamel, leading to a cavity. To prevent cavities, make sure you brush and floss regularly to counteract the buildup of plaque and damage to your tooth enamel.