8 Common Dental Myths and the Reality That Debunks Them

Ever heard, “A tooth worm lives in our mouths and causes teeth to ache”? This old wives’ tale seems so absurd that it’s easy to shrug off, but there are some dental myths that are harder to ignore. 

Let’s look at a few of the most common dental myths and debunk them together. 

1. If you’re not having noticeable problems with your teeth, you don’t need to see the dentist.

You can’t see any dark spots on your teeth, your gums aren’t bleeding, and you haven’t felt any pain in your mouth. When you’re not experiencing problems with your teeth, why spend the time and money seeing the dentist?

The answer is simple. Although dentists are great at fixing problems their patients are having with their teeth, dentists don’t just do repair work. In fact, some of our best work is helping our patients take care of the healthy teeth they already have. We’re great at catching looming problems early, before they turn into bigger problems. 

Even if you think your teeth are healthy, be sure regular dental visits are part of your overall health plan.

2. You should brush your teeth long and hard.

Maybe when you were a little one just learning to brush, your parents said, “Brush your teeth real good now.” And in your mind, that became, “Brush for a really long time and use as much pressure as you can.” It’s easy to see how that could happen.

But, brushing too hard can actually cause problems for your teeth. Colgate explains what happens with over-vigorous brushing:

“Over-brushing your teeth not only refers to ‘how much’ you brush your teeth but also ‘how’ you brush them. Compulsive or over-vigorous brushing can lead to oral health problems and put your mouth at risk for dental abrasion, tooth sensitivity, and gum recession.”

3. Proper brushing is back and forth, and up and down.

The back and forth, up and down motion that most of us have turned into a habit became ingrained in us when we were kids learning to brush our teeth. But that’s not the best motion for healthy teeth. 

“The best motion for brushing your teeth is to mimic the action of an electric toothbrush. Ideally, your toothbrush won’t move up and down or side to side in a sawing motion, but in a circular motion. Imagine you are massaging each tooth.” – Dr. Mark Burhenne

4. You should brush your teeth immediately after you eat.

It may seem smart to brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating, to clean off any residue or sticky sweetness leftover from the meal. But, that’s one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. 

When we brush right after we eat — especially if we’ve eating acidic foods, sweets, or carbs — we risk damaging the enamel on our teeth. Rather than jump up and get to the bathroom as soon as possible, it’s better to wait 30 minutes to an hour. That gives our saliva the chance to break down any acids, sugars, or carbs before our toothbrush finds them and spreads them all around.   

5. Gum disease is only a problem of the mouth.

One of our recent blog posts explored the connection between oral health and heart health. If you have gum disease, you see the problem in your mouth, but the same inflammation and bacteria that contribute to disease of the gums can contribute to health problems in your heart and other parts of the body. 

Gum disease is a problem of the mouth, but it’s not only that. It’s a warning about overall health, and it’s important to stay on top of it to prevent more systemic health issues.

6. If your gums are bleeding, you should stop brushing your teeth.

It seems logical to think that tooth brushing might aggravate already irritated gums that are bleeding. But if you have bleeding gums, don’t stop brushing!

“Bleeding gums usually mean that there is a build-up of plaque and bacteria underneath the gum line, causing inflammation and irritation. Therefore, it’s actually better to continue brushing even when you see a bit of blood, because that consistent dental hygiene is what helps fight off that same bacteria and plaque that caused the bleeding. If you see blood when you brush or floss, be sure to tell your dentist as this could be a sign of gingivitis (early-stage gum disease).” – Advanced DDS

7. If you brush your teeth every day, you don’t need to floss.

It feels good to stay on top of regular brushing. Twice a day. Two minutes each time. But if you do that every day, is it really okay not to floss? 

The simple answer is no, but let’s explore why. While brushing is an essential part of maintaining good dental hygiene, it only cleans the surface of your teeth. Flossing gets into the nooks and crannies between your teeth where your brush can’t reach. 

If you don’t floss, you’re leaving behind harmful bacteria and food particles that can lead to cavities, gum disease, and even bad breath. So, don’t skip out on flossing! Your teeth (and your dentist) will thank you.

8. Sugar is the number one cause of cavities.

“It’s plaque — not sugar — that leads to tooth decay. Plaque starts building up after every meal, and if it isn’t brushed away frequently, it can erode the hard, outer enamel of a tooth, resulting in tiny holes in the tooth’s surface. These holes mark the first stage of cavity formation.” – Live Science

That’s not to say that eating lots of sugary candy or sipping on sweetened drinks a lot doesn’t contribute to cavities. Both can lead to cavities as well as other health problems. 

But the biggest thing to remember about the connection between sugar consumption and healthy teeth is to keep your teeth clean with regular brushing and flossing so sugary residue doesn’t stay in your mouth long enough to start creating plaque buildup.

The School of Dentistry at the University of Illinois – Chicago also suggests adding more water to your daily routine. Water helps to rinse sugary remnants away, protecting your teeth in the process.


Not sure if something you’ve heard about dental health is a myth or reality? Reach out to the team at TrueCare Dentistry, and we’ll help you separate the facts from fiction.