Rise and shine! It’s time to wake up! Like most people, each of us has a set of morning routines when we wake up. One of which is brushing our teeth. We whip out our favourite brand-name toothpaste and start brushing, followed by a few gargles of water before moving on with the rest of our day.
But, have you ever wondered: Are you brushing your teeth the right and proper way?
We talked to three qualified working dentists: Dr. Leh Hui Xin from Smileline Dental Care, Dr. Melvin Sia from M Dental Clinic and Dr. Mike Lim from Blanc Dental Clinic to find out what are some of the misconceptions that revolve around our dental hygiene.
1. The time spent on brushing your teeth DOES matter.
One of the most common misconceptions people have about brushing their teeth is the amount of time they should brush their teeth. The amount of time shouldn’t even matter as long as you are brushing your teeth, right? Our interviewees said otherwise.
Most of our interviewees agree that you should spend at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth to effectively remove all the dirty things like plaques from your teeth.
“Generally speaking, we should not spend less than 2 minutes brushing our teeth to ensure a thorough brushing.” – Dr Mike.
But what’s more important than the time spent is maintaining a proper brushing technique, such as a circular motion and gently brushing your teeth.
“I always will ask the patient to not brush their front and side teeth sideways; use an up and down motion when brushing your front teeth and use a circular motion when brushing your side teeth .” – Dr Melvin.
2. Brushing your teeth won’t get rid of bad breath.
Have you ever wondered why your mouth still feels unclean even if you have already brushed your teeth three times a day? Well, there is a chance you might be brushing the wrong part in the first place.
Our interviewees stated that bad breath or halitosis is primarily caused by an uncleaned tongue instead of our teeth. As our tongue can easily accumulate a pool of bacteria, which will eventually form into a coating of bacteria on your tongue.
“If a lot of bacteria accumulate on the tongue, it will actually produce a substance called hydrogen sulfide, which is the component that causes people to have bad breath.”- Dr Leh.
A quick solution to this problem is actually quite simple. Our interviewees recommend that you can use the back of your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to scrape away all the stains and bacteria on the surface of your tongue.
Now you can finally have that minty fresh breath if you start brushing both your tongue and your teeth! Of course, there might be other causes for your bad breath, such as not drinking enough water, having a bad diet, smoking or even some underlying medical issue.
3. Too much toothpaste is NOT a good thing.
By now, almost all toothpaste related advertisements portray squeezing the toothpaste until it covers the entire row of the toothbrush’s bristle, which based on the advertisements alone, is the right amount you should be using.
But according to our interviewees, a pea-size blob of toothpaste is actually more than enough.
In fact, our interviewees stated that over usage of toothpaste can lead to a condition called Fluorosis, which is where the teeth have opaque white, brown patches. And that is the opposite of what you want when using toothpaste.
“When you use the right amount of fluoride, it can protect your teeth from decay. But when you use an excessive amount of fluoride, the fluoride will reverse its effects instead.”- Dr Melvin.
Fun fact: Do you know that fluoride exists in our tap water as well? 😯
4. Don’t immediately rinse your mouth after brushing.
When you shower, obviously you will rinse the residue soap off your body, right? So according to that logic, it makes perfect sense to rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth.
However, it was pretty shocking when we found out from our interviewees that toothpaste does not actually work the same way as regular soap does to your body.
During the interview, both Dr Melvin and Dr Leh has mentioned that you should not immediately rinse your mouth after spitting out the toothpaste. The residual toothpaste in your mouth can protect your teeth even further if it stays slightly longer on the surface of your teeth!
“If we rinse of mouth right after we brush our teeth, we actually dilute the fluoride in our mouth, reducing the benefits of it.”- Dr Leh.
On that note, Dr Leh also suggested some ways you can cope with leaving toothpaste in your mouth, which can be uncomfortable for some people.
“Try to reduce the frequency of rinsing. Start rinsing 1 or 2 times at first and slowly get used to having toothpaste in your mouth.”- Dr Leh.
5. Flossing your teeth shouldn’t cause bleeding gums.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you should floss at least once a day after brushing to ensure the gaps between your teeth can be cleaned properly.
But what if your gums started bleeding when you floss? Should you stop flossing because of this incident?
Our interviewees collectively agreed that you should not stop flossing even if you experience bleeding gums. As a matter of fact, they all mentioned that the act of flossing itself should be harmless, but that gums usually bleed because of improper flossing techniques, or it’s a sign that the gums were already unhealthy in the first place.
“When you experience gum bleeding during flossing, it’s time for you to see a dentist for a thorough, professional cleaning.”- Dr Mike.
Our interviewees suggested that besides scheduling a dental checkup for a scaling session, other solutions to bleeding gums included using the right floss such as water flossers or floss picks to clean hard-to-reach areas, such as the posterior teeth.
6. White pearly teeth aren’t necessarily the symbol of a healthy set of teeth.
We have all seen various commercials in the media regarding oral care products. The idea that “white teeth is the symbol of perfect dental health” is constantly highlighted in each of those commercials.
While talking to our interviewees, most of them agreed that a set of pearly white teeth is not a sign of a healthy pair of teeth and is mainly for cosmetic purposes as our teeth are not naturally white.
“The base colour of your teeth is actually yellow. If your teeth’s Enamel layer is thicker, your teeth will look whiter while thinner Enamel layer will make your teeth appear more yellow.”- Dr Melvin.
For the record, we are not saying that white teeth are bad for your dental health. One thing you can take away from our interviewees is that it is vital to take care of your dental hygiene in general and not just focus on the aspect of whitening teeth while ignoring the rest. So don’t misunderstand, ok? Thx.
A pair of healthy teeth starts with simple changes.
Of course, besides using the proper techniques to maintain our dental health, our interviewees also listed down some of the risk factors that might contribute to dental problems. To name a few:
- Chewing on hard objects such as seafood shells and ice cubes
- Brushing way too hard
- Smoking and other bad habits that might stain your teeth
It’s just like the saying goes: “Prevention is better than cure”. A regular dental checkup is much more cost-efficient in the long run if you calculate the treatments fees of pricier procedures such as a root canal compared to a regular dental checkup. Plus, you can detect most dental problems, such as tooth decay, which can’t be seen by the naked eye.
With that being said, our dental care in Malaysia is not that bad at all! Dental checkups at government dental clinics and hospitals only cost ✨RM 1✨ ! Now that’s a bargain!
Perhaps this article is a sign for you to book an appointment for a dental checkup soon. 😉