There are so many rules out there about oral care that it’s hard to keep everything straight: brush your teeth (of course), brush your tongue, floss, use mouthwash, candy and soda will rot your teeth, are only a few. But just because we were told these things growing up doesn’t make them hard and fast rules. We asked dentists which myths about your teeth they wanted to rebuff. Some of the things they shared might surprise you.
Myth #1: Mouthwash is a necessity
Some people rely on mouthwash and consider it a medicine cabinet staple. Kellee Kattleman Stanton, a Minnesota dentist with George Dental Group and Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, isn’t a huge mouthwash enthusiast.
“A lot of mouthwashes have alcohol in them, and even though alcohol has great anti-bacterial properties, it dries your mouth,” she explains. “You’re also exposing yourself to alcohol every day, and it has negative health effects.”
Stanton feels there are homemade rinses you can make that have the same effect as a brand name mouthwash. She calls mouthwash a decent product but says there is “total misinformation out there” about it.
Myth #2: Chewing gum is bad for your teeth
It is true that sugared gum can cause cavities in the long-run. However, Stanton says other types of gum can be beneficial for your teeth. Whitening gum doesn’t really whiten your teeth, yet it can help keep stains off your teeth.
“When you chew gum immediately after eating, saliva acts to protect your teeth..It also helps keep your teeth clean,” she explains.
Stanton says gum sweetened with Xylitol is a different story. While this chemical is just another form of sugar, studies have been shown that it has some anti-cavity properties.
Myth #3: Whitening toothpaste actually changes the color of your teeth
Everyone wants whiter teeth, and it often seems like whitening toothpaste is the easiest way to accomplish this. Most people gravitate towards any variety of whitening toothpaste and assuming it’s doing something for them. Beverly Hills dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman isn’t convinced.
“The biggest myth is whitening toothpastes,” he asserts. “They may remove stains, but they don’t whiten your teeth. The only way to whiten your teeth is to use a real whitening product, and I’d recommend talking to a real dentist to do that.”
He suggests doing the Zoom whitening procedure and getting trays to touch them up on your own for the best results.
Myth #4: Toothbrushes are just for your teeth
Seattle-area dental hygienist, Cindy Sawyer, says most people neglect a very important part of oral care when brushing their teeth – scraping and brushing their tongues.
“Our tongue holds a lot of bacteria and food debris. It can cause bad breath. It depends on what you eat, but your tongue will have this coating,” Sawyer explains. “Every time you brush your teeth brush your tongue and your mouth will feel so much better.”
She uses a tongue scraper for thorough cleaning but says brushing your tongue can also help with cleaning.
Myth #5: If you use an electric toothbrush, you don’t need to floss
While electric toothbrushes brush the surface in between your teeth, floss actually catches the food in between your teeth and gums. Especially if your teeth are close together, floss helps reach tight areas and it also prevents gum disease. According to Stanton, flossing should become part of your daily routine, just like putting your shoes on.