7 Oral Health Myths That Are Damaging Your Teeth

Think you have a good grasp of what is effective when it comes to caring for your teeth? Check out these myths and see if you know the truth behind them.

1.       MYTH – Mouthwash is a substitute for flossing or brushing.

Mouthwash may make your mouth feel clean and it does kill bacteria for about 30 seconds, but after that your mouth is just as susceptible to bacterial invasion (causing cavities).

ACT is a good mouthwash because it has the added benefit of fluoride, which helps prevent cavities. But it does not take the place of brushing and flossing.

2.       MYTH – Brushing with a hard or firm bristle brush cleans teeth better.

This is completely false. Brushing with a hard bristle brush can actually do more harm than good.

The firm bristle brushes are only to be used with dentures or removal mouth appliances. There is no reason to even buy one, unless you need it for your appliance.

The saying is, “Brush your teeth like you are brushing a tomato.” With a soft bristle brush and careful strokes.

Anything more than that and you can damage the precious enamel on your teeth.

3. MYTH – Zoom Whitening or Same Day Whitening is far better than take-home bleach kits provided by a dental professional.

Zoom Whitening and other similar products are very effective (like the ones shown on makeover shows). They work to effectively bleach your teeth but can also leave your teeth very dry.

But to put it in perspective, if you dried your mouth for 30-45 minutes and kept it open, not allowing any saliva to form and then shined a light on them they would be very white afterwards. This process is known as “dessication.” But eventually after many hours to days, moisture will return to the teeth, which will return them to their original color. The addition of bleach with these procedures is effective in bleaching but needs to be repeated for long-term effectiveness.

The take-home bleach kits from a dentist works over time and bleaches the enamel of your teeth. Plus, if your teeth don’t shift, they can be used again years later with a bleach refill. These are much more effective for cost and time in the long term. If you are wanting to whiten your teeth, spend your money wisely on treatments that really work.

4.       MYTH – Flossing is only effective with waxed floss.

If you think plain, boring floss is the only way to floss your teeth, think again. There are a few other options for reaping the full benefits of flossing – water picks, flossing sticks, even cinnamon flavored floss. A couple of things to keep in mind about flossing however… water picks can be very effective, but make sure not to turn the power up too high. This can damage your gums. When you floss, don’t just shove it down and pop the floss back out. If you have tight contacts (the space between your teeth) you’re going to damage your Sharpey’s fibers. Sharpey’s fibers are the tiny ligaments that attach your tooth to the bone. Not to mention you might be pushing more bacteria down into your gums. Use a slow see-saw motion down, wrap the floss around the sides of each tooth, then see-saw back up.

Flossing is beneficial in so many ways, but particularly if you are susceptible to cavities or gum disease. Flossing can help minimize your chance of cavities or premature tooth loss. Those that are low risk or less susceptible to cavities often reason that they do not need to floss as often, however, your risk factors can change and you will pay the price. No toothbrush, no matter how expensive or fancy can replicate what flossing does.

5.       MYTH – Canker sores can be cured.

As painful and uncomfortable as these mouth problems are, there is no evidence to prove that they can be cured as of yet. But until there is a cure, you can manage the pain symptoms with CankerCover or Anbesol/Orajel. Unfortunately, it still usually takes anywhere from 10 days – 2 weeks to get rid of them completely.

And there isn’t even any solid evidence into what causes them. Bacteria? Acidic foods? No consensus yet.

6.       MYTH – Sports drinks don’t do any harm to teeth.

In fact, any sports drink, soft drink or sugary drink is bad for teeth. Think of it this way 1 coke = 10 literal teaspoons of sugar.  Same goes for Gatorade/Powerade/etc.

How many times have you seen or even experienced giving kids Gatorade or another sports drink after playing sports?

It happens all the time. The premise is on refueling the lost electrolytes.

But the reality is that these are the same kids who have a mouthful of dental cavities. One office visit can yield 10 fillings on their baby teeth.

The reason?

It’s the sugar. This constant exposure to sugar creates an acidic environment which literally melts or erodes the enamel causing decay.

Note: it is frequency of exposure to refined carbs moreso than volume of sugar that causes tooth decay. So when you sip on these drinks, the environment in your mouth never gets back to normal. Your saliva neutralizes the acid with every drink. Then, when you take another drink, you re-expose teeth to the acid again. This creates a cycle primed for cavities.

So the next time your little one plays a high intensity spot, do them a favor: give them lots of water for hydration and a banana for the lost electrolytes.

7.       MYTH – “If I have a crown on a tooth, it can’t get another cavity.”

Crowns do not guarantee that your tooth will never get a cavity. Usually where the cavity occurs is in the space where the crown margin meets the natural tooth. Often times, this space gets neglected and when that happens, plaque builds up and bacteria gathers, all creating the perfect breeding ground for a cavity.

So brush this area well, just like you do for the rest of your mouth.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.