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Dental Myths: Separating Fact From Fiction, Finally!

Identifying dental myths when you hear them can help you take better care of your teeth.

Over the years, dentistry has evolved from an imprecise practice based on folk cures to a structured medical discipline that relies on science and technology.

Although modern dentistry has come a long way, there are still many dental myths that are passed on by word of mouth. Here is the truth about some common dental misconceptions:

Myth: If there is no visible problem with my teeth, I don't have to see a dentist.

Fact: Just because your teeth look healthy doesn't mean that it is a good idea to skip going to the dentist. You should visit your dentist twice a year for an exam and dental cleaning to make sure that your teeth stay healthy and that any dental problems are treated before they become serious.

Myth: My parents had good dental health so I don't really have to worry about mine.

Fact
: Though genetics may play a small role in determining your dental health, it is mostly up to you to take good care of your teeth and gums to keep them healthy in the long term.

Myth: Brushing my teeth more than once a day can harm my enamel.

Fact
: Most dentists recommend using a soft toothbrush to avoid being overly rough on gums and teeth. If you do so, you shouldn't run into any problems brushing twice a day or -- if possible -- after each meal.

Myth: Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal is just as effective as brushing.

Fact
: While chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help clean your teeth and freshen your breath after meals, it is no replacement for thoroughly brushing and flossing to remove dental plaque and debris.

Myth: I shouldn't brush my teeth if my gums are bleeding.

Fact
: Bleeding gums are often caused when dental plaque or food debris is not properly removed by regular brushing and flossing. If you notice that your gums become more prone to bleeding, it is a good idea to thoroughly and gently brush and floss them at least twice a day. If the bleeding continues, visit your dentist.


Myth: If I have a toothache, placing an aspirin tablet next to the tooth will relieve pain.

Fact
: At-home toothache remedies won't correct your dental problems. Putting an aspirin tablet in direct contact with the soft tissues of your mouth will not help relieve a toothache, and can lead to painful chemical burns -- don't do it!

Myth: Teeth whitening will damage my enamel.

Fact
Teeth whitening has gotten much safer as new technological developments in both over-the-counter and in-office products have evolved. In general, if you follow directions and consult your cosmetic dentist about possible dental treatment options, you should have nothing to worry about.

Myth: It isn't really important to take care of my child's baby teeth because they are going to fall out in a few years anyway.

Fact
: Not only is it a good idea to start teaching your child about good oral hygiene at an early age, neglecting to take proper care of their baby teeth can cause problems with their bite or permanent teeth if they fall out too early.

Myth: All dental procedures must be avoided during pregnancy.

Fact
: Although certain procedures, such as X-rays or dental surgery, should be avoided during pregnancy, regular dental treatments should continue as usual.

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