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Dental Cleaning Myths Debunked

Dr. Ty Eriks

Did you know that more than about 36% of adults have a fear of the dentist? The fear and anxiety surrounding dental cleanings often keep people from seeking crucial medical care that can affect overall health. Because of the fear and anxiety associated with going to the dentist, all kinds of myths exist when it comes to caring for our teeth.

One way to help alleviate anxiety and fear surrounding dental cleanings is to learn. Here are five dental cleaning myths debunked.

1. Your Dentist Won’t Notice

Many people believe brushing and flossing immediately before a check-up will hide the evidence of poor dental cleaning at home. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Dentists can tell if you’re dishonest about your brushing and flossing habits at home. Brushing and flossing immediately before a check-up at the dentist but not regularly can lead to potential health concerns like heart and gum disease.

2. Children Shouldn’t See The Dentist Until They Have Teeth

The fear and anxiety surrounding dental care begin because of bad experiences or a lack of dentist visits in childhood. Many people believe babies without teeth don’t need dental care. This isn’t true. Babies should see a dentist within the first year to establish proper dental care. During this initial visit, your dentist will do an exam to check growth and development. One benefit of early dental care is a reduction in fear and anxiety surrounding dental cleanings.

3. Mouthwash Replaces Flossing

Rinsing with mouthwash should be part of your at-home dental cleaning and flossing routine, but mouthwash isn’t a substitute for flossing. Flossing is responsible for cleaning up to 40% of the surface area of your teeth. It’s important to remember you should never swallow mouthwash and make sure to supervise children when introducing it to their routine. Also, mouthwash isn’t recommended for children under the age of 6.

4. Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, & Brushing

Many myths surround toothbrushes and toothpaste, including that:

  • You should replace your toothbrush annually
  • Harder bristle brushes are better
  • Manual brushing is better than a mechanical toothbrush
  • Toothpaste should work up a lather to be effective
  • Using tartar control toothpaste means you don’t have to go to the dentist as often
  • You should brush after each meal

None of the above statements are true. The ADA recommends that toothbrushes be replaced every 3 months. Ideally, you should have a new toothbrush or toothbrush head 4 times per year. Harder bristle brushes can’t always conform to the contours of your teeth as a softer bristle brush can. Tartar control toothpaste is great, but never a substitute for a professional dental cleaning.

Finally, brushing after each meal or too frequently during the day can actually harm your teeth. Stick to brushing twice per day for at least 2 minutes each time.

5. Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Brush Or Floss

This myth is based on an old wives' tale and is totally false. During pregnancy, the body experiences an increase in blood volume and additional hormones that can increase the risk of gum disease. If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you must let your dental cleaning team know as soon as possible so they can create a care plan for your needs.

Dr. Ty Eriks
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