Dental myths and truths

Posted on June 13, 2014

Looking after your teeth should be a top priority. When it comes to dental care, being misinformed can be harmful to your dental health. Not understanding how to look after your teeth can lead to future complaints. Check out the myths below to see how best to get that perfect, healthy smile.

Myth:  "Teeth are naturally white"
Contrary to popular belief the natural colour of teeth is not pure white. You can however help to keep your teeth as white as possible by brushing twice a day (ideally after meals) with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly. You can also help to keep your teeth as white as possible by avoiding food and drinks that can discolour them, such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and red wine.

Myth: "Don't brush bleeding gums"
It may seem logical to stop brushing at the sign of bleeding gums. When your gums bleed, the opposite is true. Plaque and food build up can lead to your gums becoming irritated and inflamed. The most effective way to remove the plaque is by brushing gently. However, if the problem persists then it could be a sign of gum disease so it's best to consult your dentist.

Myth:  "Dentistry is free on the NHS"
Dentistry is one of the few NHS services you have to pay for.  There are three bands of pricing, depending on the type of treatment you require.  A 'band 3' course of treatment can run into the hundreds of pounds, this is where Simplyhealth's dental plan could help you manage these costs.

Myth:  "You need to see the dentist every six months"
A standard letter from your dental health clinic may drop on your doorstep once every six months, reminding you to make an appointment. However, dental check-ups are not always required as often as this if you maintain very good oral hygiene.  Your dentist will tell you how often you should attend a check-up by assessing your oral health. In some instances you may only need to visit no more than once every two years.

Myth:  "Fluoride is added to the public water supply"
There is some truth in this. According to Public Health England (PHE), fluoride is added to about 6 million people's water supply in England - around 10% of the population. For the 90% of people who currently do not benefit from enhanced water fluoridation are therefore more prone to tooth decay.

Myth:  "Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay"
Another half-truth. It's actually the acid produced by bacteria in your mouth that causes tooth decay. Bacteria love to digest carbohydrates, and sugar is a carb - along with more recognisable sources potatoes, rice, bread, fruit and vegetables. If you spend all day drinking sugary drinks then you're exposing your teeth to constant carbs, bacteria's favourite!