Let’s be honest: nobody loves going to the dentist. In fact, an estimated 9% to 15% of Americans fail to see a dentist regularly because doing so induces stress and anxiety. While this fear can stem from a number of sources, we think one of the most prominent is a simple lack of understanding of what dentists do and why regular dental checkups are important. Too, misunderstanding certain aspects of dental health keeps many people from pursuing treatments and hygiene practices that will not only maintain the quality of their smiles but also improve their overall wellbeing. So before you work yourself into a lather over the thought of your next dental appointment, read up on these five common misconceptions about your mouth.
Chances are, your bad breath is not a sign of your mouth’s impending doom. Bad breath is frequently caused by lingering bacteria on the tongue. Even if you are brushing your teeth 2–3 times each day, if you aren’t also brushing your tongue, you may still be experiencing bad breath. We know brushing your tongue sounds weird, but give it a try. Also be sure to replace your toothbrush every 2–3 months as super resilient bacteria may be camping out in the bristles. Mouthwashes can help too, but only antiseptic washes will kill the germs causing the problem.
There’s also a chance your bad breath is caused by something else. Sinus drainage, acid reflux, and certain medications can cause bad breath, as can certain foods and beverages. Again, brushing and flossing at least twice daily is the best solution for bad breath of any kind, so just keep at it.
If, after trying the whole tongue scraping thing, your bad breath persists, you should come see us. Bad breath is sometimes related to periodontal (gum) disease, which, of course, should be promptly treated. But here’s the thing - we check on your gum health and do an oral cancer screening at every cleaning, so if you have your teeth cleaned twice a year, you are far less likely to get into an emergency situation.
Contrary to popular belief, bleaching does not weaken the enamel of the teeth. It only changes tooth color. Occasionally, bleach can lead to heightened tooth sensitivity for a brief time after its application, but this sensitivity is only temporary. So go ahead. Bleach away the years of coffee, tea, cola, and wine. You will smile whiter, and your teeth won’t be a bit weaker.
We lose our baby teeth, it’s true; however, baby teeth still require regular care. If baby teeth are not properly cared for, they may fall out too soon, and if they fall out too soon, your child’s adult teeth may not come in properly. As soon as your child’s teeth have grown in, you should begin brushing them. Use a fingertip toothbrush to gently rub your baby’s teeth until he or she is old enough to brush without assistance. We typically begin seeing kids around age three, unless, of course, you notice a problem before then.
We hear this all the time: “Well I haven’t been in for a while because I wasn’t having any problems, but then all of a sudden…” All of a sudden. Maybe to you, but not to us. Fact: without the cool tools that we use to photograph and poke around in your mouth, you can’t fully assess your oral health. That’s why even the most diligent brushers should see the dentist every six months. You may brush and floss after every meal and before bed and still be experiencing a problem. Hopefully not. Probably not. But the only way to know for sure is to see us regularly. In addition to cleaning your teeth, we perform oral cancer screenings and check the health of your gum tissue. Assessing your gums is particularly important, as the health of the gum tissue gives us insight into the health of the rest of your body. So, really, don’t stop coming to see us because you haven’t noticed any problems. Let us check you out just to be sure. And if you are brushing like a champ and are, in fact, not experiencing problems, then we’ll have you out the door in no time at all, free brush, tube of toothpaste, and roll of floss in tow.
We’ll say it again: even if you brush and floss daily, seeing the dentist regularly is important for your overall health. People often think of the mouth as an island unto itself. If I take care of it like I’m supposed to, they think, I can get away with not going to the dentist, save a few dollars on my insurance plan. But your mouth is very much connected to the rest of your body, and sometimes we can detect or assist in treating disorders you wouldn’t necessarily associate with your teeth and gums. Cancer, for example, may begin in your mouth before spreading to other parts of the body, and many sleep disorders are caused or worsened by a misaligned bite. We can tell a lot about your overall health by examining your mouth. Those twice yearly visits we recommend aren’t just because we like seeing you, although we do enjoy catching up. They are seriously important for your overall health and wellbeing.