There are commonly held myths about dental health that many people of various ages and mindsets share. We’re here to debunk these myths, because they can be detrimental to your oral health!
If you want to take better care of your smile, it’s important to understand these commonly held beliefs for what they are — which is false. And, if you haven’t seen your dentist in a while, it’s a good idea to schedule a dental visit ASAP to ensure your smile and your whole body stays healthy, happy and bright.
The 5 Must-bust Dental Myths
We hear smart, generally healthy people say these types of things all the time, and we’re out to bust these dental myths for the sake of your smile.
- I’ll know if something’s wrong with my teeth or gums because they’ll hurt.
- Going to the dentist is painful.
- Periodontal disease is only something old people get.
- Oral cancer is a smoker’s disease.
- Flossing and brushing daily aren’t really as critical as my dentist claims.
Myth 1: I’ll know if something’s wrong with my teeth or gums because they’ll hurt.
This is a super common dental myth. Many people think no pain means no problem. But that’s just not true. Most dental health issues progress without pain until they’re in very advanced stages, when treatment is invasive and expensive. Catching dental health issues early is the key to healthy teeth and gums. Early detection also helps you avoid the pain that comes from ignoring problems you can’t see or feel until it’s too late.
This myth comes in other forms, too, like “I’m only 25 and my mouth seems healthy. Do I really need to see a dentist every six months?” Absolutely! Dental wellness is best maintained through preventative dental care, which means going to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup even when you don’t have pain — no matter what your age.
What you do now to care for your smile will have an impact on your dental health for the rest of your life. One group of adults we often see avoiding dental checkups are in their 20s and 30s. Research shows they’re actually more likely than older adults to have untreated decay. Did you know that only 50% of adults ages 20-34 have been to the dentist in the past year? If you’re overdue, schedule your visit today!
Myth 2: Going to the dentist will be painful.
We hear this all the time, especially from patients who have had bad experiences in other dental offices. Much to their relief, every First Choice Dental hygienist, dentist and specialist practices comfort-conscious care — which means your physical and emotional comfort are just as important to us as making sure your mouth is healthy. Now, these same patients see a visit to their dentist as no big deal.
This is one of the dental myths we also hear about indirectly from concerned friends and relatives who know their loved one needs to visit the dentist, but are too afraid to do so. Dentistry has changed a LOT in the past decade. Dental visits are typically uneventful and relatively pain free, especially if you stick to a regular routine of dental checkups to keep big problems at bay.
For those who’ve avoided the dentist for 10 or 20 years or more, you are NOT alone. The good news is we can help with something called sedation dentistry, which allows you to get the care you need without fear. Sedation dentistry is a safe, effective way to have years of dental treatment completed safely and without anxiety in just one or two visits. “Conscious sedation,” involves medication in pill form, as well as working with a sedation dentist who is specially trained to administer this small dose of medication and help you relax throughout your appointment.
You’ll be awake throughout the procedure and can respond to questions from your dentist, but you will be relaxed and anxiety-free, with low memory of the work you had done. For phobic patients, this is truly life changing. We offer complimentary sedation dentistry consultations for those who’d like to know more. Simply make an appointment at your local First Choice Dentist, and type “free sedation dentistry consultation,” in the comments section.
Myth 3: Periodontal disease is something old people get.
Not true, unless you consider people in their 30s or 40s to be “old people.” Individuals usually don’t show signs of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, until they are in their 30s or 40s, and men are more likely to have gum disease than women.
Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss, and may be associated with other chronic diseases including diabetes and heart disease.
Some dentists, including those at First Choice Dental, focus on the detection, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease to help keep your dental health, and your overall health, at its best. Regular checkups with your dentist are key ingredient to keeping your gums healthy at any age, so you can preserve your smile for years to come.
Myth 4: Oral cancer is a smoker’s disease.
The truth is that more newly diagnosed cases of oral cancer are being attributed to the HPV virus than smoking. Even more discouraging is that the high death rate associated with oral cancer isn’t due to the cancer being difficult to detect, but to the fact that it progresses without symptoms so it’s often detected only when it’s very advanced. These facts make this one of the most dangerous dental myths.
You cannot see oral cancer with the naked eye until it's extremely advanced, so dentists use special equipment to detect it in its early stages. That means anyone who is sexually active, regardless of whether or not you use tobacco, should be getting screened regularly for oral cancer by a trained dentist who uses the proper equipment.
We have made a commitment to offering FREE oral cancer screenings as a regular part of any new patient exam, and once each year for regular patients. We use Velscope technology, which can detect oral tissue abnormalities not visible to the naked eye, making it possible to catch these abnormalities early. If something is found, you can then seek further examination by a physician or oral surgeon.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time of year for you to make an oral cancer screening with a First Choice Dentist as part of your health checklist.
Myth 5: Flossing and twice-daily brushing isn’t really as critical as dentists claim.
It is amazing how many responsible, otherwise healthy adults still avoid flossing, and tend to get lax on brushing twice a day. This truly is the most critical thing you can do to positively influence your dental wellness.
Bacteria formed from small food particles left behind after eating food and sugar cling to teeth. If left alone, these particles can become plaque and then tartar. Brushing in the morning and at night keeps bacteria at bay and maintains smooth tooth surfaces so bacteria can’t cling to the surface as easily.
Flossing ensures the between-teeth surfaces get clean, too. Brushing and not flossing leaves two of four sides of your teeth vulnerable, like washing only one side of your dishes at home before putting them back in the cupboard. If you can’t bring yourself to floss daily, start by flossing once every 2-3 days and work up to daily. Once every few days is certainly better than not at all.
Now that these dental myths are busted, it’s time to take action to ensure your dental wellness! Feel free to contact us anytime online, or at 608-848-5366. Your smile will thank you!