5 dental myths debunked by Dr Jolene

M1: I brush my teeth everyday so I don’t need to floss

Statistics show that less than 40% of Singaporeans floss their teeth regularly. However, toothbrushing alone does not and cannot remove the plaque lodged in between your teeth. The only way to remove the plaque between your teeth is by flossing.

This is the only way to prevent decay in between your teeth. If you were never taught how to floss, do ask your dentist at your next check-up. It may not be easy when you first start to floss but once you get the hang of it, this small addition to your usual dental routine will go a long way in improving your oral health.

M2: When choosing a toothbrush, the harder the bristles, the better

The key to toothbrushing is the physical removal of plaque. Contrary to popular belief, soft-bristled toothbrushes are sufficient for plaque removal when the correct tooth-brushing technique is used.

Medium or hard-bristled toothbrushes, on the other hand, tend to result in damage to gums and teeth, even when only a little force is applied. This could result in gum recession and tooth sensitivity in the long term. So, the next time you buy a toothbrush, remember to choose one with soft bristles.

M3: When my gums bleed when I brush my teeth, I should avoid brushing that area

A common reason for gum bleeding is gum disease. Gum disease often starts with plaque accumulation in the areas where your teeth and gums meet. Plaque comprise of harmful bacteria that cause gum inflammation (i.e. gingivitis). When you have gingivitis, your gums tend to bleed upon toothbrushing.

However, this does not mean you should avoid the area because if you do, the gum disease will only progress further, leading to detrimental consequences. Instead, in the case of gingivitis, you should pay more attention to the areas that bleed when you brush, ensuring that the gums around the area are cleaned well. The bleeding should stop once the inflammation resolved.If you are concerned about your bleeding gums, please visit your dentist for professional advice.

M4: Fluoride is bad for my health. I should choose a toothpaste without fluoride.

In the past, there had been controversy about fluoride in toothpaste causing fluoride poisoning. However, this has been resolved – fluoride is essential in preventing tooth decay. In fact, the Ministry of Health has legislated the fluoridation of our national water supply since 1957!

Many countries have adopted this practice as a bid to prevent decay on a nation-wide scale. Fluoride in our toothpaste provides added prevention against decay. Fluoride ions replace the minerals our teeth which we lose daily as we eat and drink. The next time you brush your teeth, try to spit out the excess toothpaste instead of rinsing it out. This would allow the fluoride to remain on your teeth for as long as possible.

M5: If my teeth are sensitive after a filling, it must be because the dentist did not do a good job

There are many reasons for why your teeth may be sensitive. It is common for teeth to feel sensitive after a filling as the process of filling the tooth often involves drilling into the tooth. This disturbs the nerves in your tooth temporarily and may take up to 2 weeks to resolve.

Another possible reason for sensitivity is the proximity of the filling to your nerves. If the filling is deep and close to your nerves, there is a higher chance of post-operative sensitivity.

If the sensitivity in your tooth worsens over time, it may be wise to visit your dentist to check if further dental treatment is required.
I hope this article will help clarify some misconceptions you may have about dentistry. It is my hope that Singaporeans will be more dentally aware and that as a society, our oral health will always be improving.

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