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Posted at: Sep 14, 2019, 12:12 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2019, 12:13 AM (IST)

Time to brush away oral care mistakes

Time to brush away oral care mistakes
Photo for representational use only. iStock

Dr Vikram Bali and Dr Shivani Bali

A healthy set of teeth is one of the indicators of your well being. Failure to take care of it is the same as letting your physical health down the drain. There are many dental myths that are passed on by word of mouth. Here is the truth about some dental misconceptions.

MYTH: The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth will be. 

Brushing too hard can actually harm your teeth by wearing off the enamel and even the gums. You should always brush for minimum 2 minutes twice daily with a soft bristled brush.

MYTH: Flossing isn’t necessary.

Once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between age 2 to 6, parents should start teaching their children to floss. Flossing is advised once daily preferably before bedtime. If done improperly, flossing can cause damage to gums and teeth. So one should always learn a proper method of flossing from a dental practitioner.

MYTH: We should not clean our tongue.

The top surface of tongue can be cleaned using a plastic or metal tongue cleaner/ scraper or a soft bristle toothbrush. However, toothbrushes are not as effective as tongue cleaners/ scrapers. Using a tongue cleaner helps improve your sense of taste, appearance of tongue, removes bacteria and reduces bad breath. Make sure your tongue scraper doesn’t have any uneven or rough edges so that it should not cut the surface of your tongue or harm your taste buds. Apply gentle pressure for avoiding any damage.

MYTH: Mouthwash should not be used as a substitute for brushing.

For patients with periodontal diseases Listerine can be used because it reduces the bacteria that cause the disease. Whereas patients who are cavity prone can use high fluoride rinses. Alcohol based mouthwash can irritate canker sores more than helping it. Mouthwash can lead to fresher breath, but it may be short lived. If a patient has poor oral hygiene and doesn’t brush effectively, there is no amount of mouthwash that can mask the effects of poor health. Long term use of alcohol based mouthwash cause teeth erosion and enamel loss. The next time you plan to grab a mouthwash, read the label first. Avoid ones with low pH and alcohol content. Switch to an alcohol free mouthwash. You can naturally cure bad breath by maintaining good oral hygiene. Brush twice daily and keep hydrated. Saliva plays important role in keeping your mouth clean. Consuming milk and yogurt are also well known cure for bad breath.

MYTH: Cleaning or removing plaque from teeth makes them weak.

Regular dental cleaning may help lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. Plaque carries bacteria that can damage tooth enamel and lead to dental cavities. But if you remove plaque regularly, you can prevent permanent tooth decay and gum disease. Bigger problem arise, if plaque stays on your teeth and hardens into tartar( calculus). Dental cleaning or scaling is advised atleast twice a year and visits can increase if you have persistent problem. Whatever your age, you can and should have healthy teeth. Regular tooth cleaning by the dentist helps us from gum problems.

Prevention is better than cure. So even if you are not experiencing dental pain, it is recommended to see your dentist twice a year for regular cleaning and examination.

— The writers are Ludhiana-based dental surgeons.

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