Common dental myths

Here are 6 common dental myths and the truth behind them.

Always brush your teeth immediately after eating

No, wait at least 30 minutes. Saliva is your mouth's natural way to offset the acids in the foods you eat. So wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to give your saliva a chance to do its job. This is especially important if you're eating or drinking anything acidic, such as oranges or lemonade.1

You can use mouthwash instead of brushing

No. Mouthwash and mouth rinses can help freshen breath, and some even have fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. However, nothing does a better job of removing the sticky plaque that builds up on your teeth than a good brushing.2

If your teeth look and feel fine, you don't need to see a dentist

Not so. Dentists and dental hygienists are trained to look for problems before they occur, so regular checkups are the best way to avoid future problems.

Do you use alcohol or tobacco? Eat an unhealthy diet? Then you are more vulnerable to dental problems in general.

Get routine checkups every 6 months as recommended and you can avoid the discomfort and expense of dental problems.3

You can skip flossing if you use an electric toothbrush

Not the case. An electric toothbrush is meant to clean tooth surfaces. While some electric toothbrush makers claim the brushes can reach between teeth, nothing is as effective as plain old dental floss.

Only flossing removes plaque between teeth and below the gum line. It's simple—for healthy teeth you have to brush, and for healthy gums, you have to floss.4

Fruit juice and diet drinks are OK to drink

Not really. Unfortunately, fruit juices are bad for teeth. They contain natural acids and sugars that can break down enamel and cause cavities and gum disease. Diet drinks also contain acids that wear down tooth enamel.5

Your best bet is always water. If you do choose to drink something else, be sure to have a drink of water afterward to help rinse away any acids and sugars.

You should rinse out your mouth with water after brushing your teeth

No. While it's perfectly fine to spit out any excess foam and toothpaste, you should not rinse out your mouth after brushing. If you do, you'll wash away a valuable layer of fluoride that protects your teeth.6

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Sources

  1. “Really? Never Brush Your Teeth Immediately After a Meal,” The New York Times, last accessed September 22, 2021, https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/really-never-brush-your-teeth-immediately-after-a-meal/.
  2. “Oral Health Topics,” American Dental Association, last accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/mouthrinse-mouthwash.
  3. “How Often Should You Go to the Dentist?” Colgate, last accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/how-often-should-you-go-to-the-dentist-as-an-adult-0414.
  4. “5 Benefits of Flossing Your Teeth,” Healthline, last accessed November 11, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-flossing.
  5. “The Truth About Sugary Drinks and Your Smile,” American Dental Association, last accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/nutrition/food-tips/sugary-drinks.
  6. “’Spit don’t rinse’ for better oral health,” Oral Health Foundation, last accessed September 22, 2021, https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/spit-dont-rinse-for-better-oral-health.