Common Dental Mysteries, Solved!


Area 51. The Bermuda Triangle. The missing sock. Everyone loves a good mystery. But when it comes to your health, mysteries aren’t always a good thing, especially if they could be damaging your health. When it comes to your teeth, the more you know, the better.  Here’s a list of some of the most common dental myths and mysteries, solved for you.

Do you really need to floss?

You probably heard news reports last year when the Federal Government removed flossing from its list of daily dietary guidelines. But does that mean you should stop flossing? Nope! Not even close. The guideline was removed because it lacked the necessary amount of scientific studies to earn the title of ‘dietary guideline,’ not because it wasn’t important, but because the studies were never done. Chances are the studies now will be conducted, and will unsurprisingly say that yes, you really do need to floss.

Is there such a thing as brushing too hard?

The harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth get, right?  Wrong! In fact, brushing too hard can permanently damage the enamel on your teeth, especially after eating or drinking highly acidic foods and beverages like citrus fruits, juices and coffee. So what’s the correct amount of pressure you should be putting on your teeth with your brush? Think of it this way. You should brush so gently that if someone comes up behind you while you’re brushing they should be able to knock your brush out of your hands if they bump your arm.

What water temperature should you use to brush your teeth?

It’s easy to understand why this could be confusing. When you do the dishes, the hotter the better, because hot water breaks up tough, baked on food stains. On the other hand, when you do the laundry, it is recommended that you treat stains with cold water so as not to let them ‘set in’ to your fabric. But what about teeth? The truth is, neither water temperature will affect stains on your teeth, but you should choose a water temperature that feels good to your teeth. For most people, cold water is preferred because it’s refreshing, however for people with sensitive teeth, warm water works well, too. The only temperature you should avoid is hot water, because hot water can actually damage your toothbrush bristles, making them less effective at cleaning your teeth, and putting your enamel at risk in the process.

Baby teeth are throw away teeth and don’t need to be ‘babied.’

This is another myth that simply isn’t true. Baby teeth set the foundation for healthy permanent teeth and are just as important as their successors. If you allow your child to neglect the care of their baby teeth, those bad habits can follow them into adulthood, making your child less likely to care for their adult teeth. Baby teeth act as placeholders for adult teeth, too, so if something happens to them and they require removal or root canals at a young age, it can cause crowding or other problems when the adult teeth come in.

Alcohol mouthwashes are better than alcohol-free if you can stand the burn.

This is another one that isn’t true- sort of. Since the 1970’s, studies have linked using mouthwash contains alcohol with oral cancer, but many of the patients studied were also consumers of alcohol and tobacco products, and scientists were unable to determine if the mouthwash played any role in the increase in oral cancer.

For those who prefer the taste and feel of alcohol mouthwash, it has been found safe for now, and you should use it. If you’re not a fan of that burning sensation, alcohol-free mouthwash is just as safe and effective as its alcohol-containing counterpart.

If you have any other questions or dental mysteries you need solved, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. George’s office at 724-934-3422.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on May 29th, 2017