While dental care may seem relatively straightforward, Dominican-American dHow to keep a healthy smileentist Claudio Miró continues to encounter patients, especially in Latin communities, who are misinformed when it comes to taking care of their mouths and teeth. Shine Latina takes a look at the five most common myths of dental health that are nothing to smile about.
MYTH #1 "Daily brushing is all I need to keep my mouth clean and healthy."
Brushing your teeth is the minimum need for maintaining good, oral health. According to Dr. Miró, daily oral care should always include the following:
1. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day-once in the morning and once right before going to bed, especially if you like to snack at night.
2. Floss daily to remove plaque from between teeth.
3. Use a mouth rinse, like Listerine, to quickly remove bacteria that lodge in the ridges of the tongue.
MYTH #2 "Brushing my teeth with baking soda is better than using regular toothpaste."
Baking soda should never be a toothpaste substitute, according to Dr. Miró. "Baking soda is too abrasive, and you'll end up removing the enamel that protects [teeth] from cavities." He suggests using toothpaste that contains fluoride and spending at least two minutes brushing your teeth with a soft toothbrush. Just remember to change toothbrushes every three months for more effective care.
MYTH #3 "When I get a canker sore, I use mercurochrome (mercurio) to heal it."
Many people would rather listen to old wives tales' and use ancient remedies to cure oral ulcers before consulting with a dentist, and that could prove dangerous. Beside the potential hazard of placing a mercury-based substance inside the mouth, Dr. Miró says that many of these types of medications may not have the necessary properties to be an effective cure for canker sores or the like. "There are more complete medications," says the expert, who also suggests that visiting a dentist may help discover the root cause for the sore, which could be anything from stress to indigestion. If the sore lasts 14 days or longer, a doctor or dentist visit is highly recommended.
MYTH #4 "My gums bleed when I brush, and that's pretty normal for me."
There's nothing normal about bleeding gums, according to the doctor. "It's not normal when you brush your teeth and have blood coming out. If there's blood present, you will need an immediate periodontal evaluation and a deep cleaning treatment," says the expert who explains further that 80% of all tooth loss is due to gum disease. Dr. Miró has also found that 40% of Hispanics suffer from gum disease and don't even know about it. And while fear of pain and intimidation keep many from getting appropriate oral care, dentists today use many pain-free treatments that could help alleviate "dental chair anxiety".
MYTH #5 "Cavities only happen to children."
Childhood doesn't cause cavities; bacteria do. When proper oral hygiene is not followed regularly, bacteria can cause those tiny erosions that can damage your teeth. Dr. Miró recommends visiting your dentist twice a year for a good, deep cleaning, plus getting x-rays to monitor the appearance of cavities.