When it comes to your overall health and wellness, your mouth is a large piece in the puzzle. Many chronic diseases are linked to poor oral hygiene. We turned to the experts to break down some key realities and falsehoods about taking care of your teeth.
“Not all toothpastes are right for every individual,” says Paoli’s Dr. Gulia Omene. “Various toothpastes have different abrasivity to them. For some people that build up a lot of tartar, they will want a toothpaste with high abrasivity to get rid of that buildup. Another patient with some sensitivity could damage their gums or teeth by using the same product.”
“The whitening agent, which is a form of bleach, only gets rid of the yellow coloring in the teeth, which does not harm the enamel in any way,” says Bala Cynwyd’s Dr. Evan Berson.
Baby teeth are vital for normal function, proper speech and healthy eating—and they may not fall out until a child is close to 12 years of age. “Left untreated, dental decay on these teeth can be a source of pain and potential infection for children, eventually damaging permanent teeth,” says Havertown’s Dr. Dvasha Stollman.
“There’s actually no evidence to show that charcoal products are safe for your teeth,” says Devon’s Dr. Jamie Lowstetter. “Using them causes enamel breakdown, exposing the dentin layer of your teeth, which is a naturally darker, more yellow substance.”
Nocturnal clenching and grinding is directly related to tooth wear and obstructive sleep apnea. Lowstetter advises patients to speak with a doctor about a sleep study to diagnose or rule out sleep apnea.
For the best results, brush gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush. “The harder you brush, the more trauma you can create to your teeth,” says Wayne’s Dr. Sherly Alex. “This could eventually lead to more wearing of the enamel and a receding gum line.”
“The cold ice sets your teeth up for possible cracking and weakened fillings or tooth structure,” Berson says.
As long as you remember to brush your teeth after a binge, you’re free to indulge your sweet tooth. “It’s not the amount of candy that you eat, but how long the sugar from the candy stays in your mouth,” says Alex.
During pregnancy, hormone levels and eating patterns change drastically, making it more important than ever to visit the dentist. “You may find that you need to increase the frequency from every six months to every four months while pregnant to combat the added load to your oral health,” says Omene. “Poor dental health has been linked to preterm and low birth weight outcomes.”
“Although milk is a good source of vitamin D and calcium for growing children, it does have sugar,” Stollman says. “Children should never be put to bed drinking anything and should always have their teeth brushed thoroughly by an adult before going to sleep.”