How much time do you spend thinking about your teeth? If you’re like most people, the answer is “quite a bit.” With that in mind, you probably won’t be surprised by how many dental fads are out there. After all, almost everyone wants a whiter, stronger, more beautiful smile, and dental fads are the things that so often promise this exact outcome.
While dental fads may seem like they’re dedicated to improving your dental health and wellness and promoting a stronger, happier mouth, they can be very damaging and may do harm to your dental health overall.
With this in mind, we’re here to talk about why avoiding dental fads is so essential, and what you can do to care for your teeth, instead.
Let’s dive in.
Why Dental Fads are Bad
Wondering what’s wrong with dental fads, when we get down to it? The answer is simple: lots.
Like diet and beauty fads, dental fads often aren’t based on real information or science. This means that you may be putting your teeth at risk when you jump aboard a new dental fad. As such, following these guidelines without researching them independently can create a situation where you’re struggling to protect your teeth, or where you wind up accidentally harming their health and wellbeing.
4 Dental Fads to Avoid at all Costs
Oral care has evolved significantly in recent years. That evolution has created many prominent dental fads. Unfortunately, not all of these are good for your teeth. With this in mind, here are a few dental fads to avoid altogether, if you want your teeth to be as healthy as possible:
1. Brushing with Baking Soda and Lemon Juice
While you could brush with a whitening toothpaste, many people have ditched those formulas in recent years, in favor of what they claim is an all-natural whitening solution: lemon juice and baking soda.
Although each of these ingredients has been celebrated for their supposed whitening abilities, each can be very damaging for your teeth. Lemon juice, for instance, is a very acidic substance and may compromise your enamel over time. Baking soda, on the other hand, is very abrasive and can wear away the tooth surface under the damaged enamel.
With this in mind, stick with whitening toothpaste if you want a brighter smile.
2. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling has been used for centuries as a way of keeping the mouth healthy and bacteria-free. For many years, oil pulling was a very reasonable method for keeping the mouth healthy. This is because there were few other options available, and oil pulling was a good way to banish bacteria and reduce the risks of dental decay.
Today, however, oil pulling is simply not a reasonable substitute for flossing, brushing, or mouthwash. An age-old traditional remedy, oil pulling has not been endorsed by the scientific community and will not whiten or protect teeth in the same way as modern dental care materials and tools.
3. Rinsing with Hydrogen Peroxide
While it’s true that many modern whitening products, such as whitening strips, involve a great deal of hydrogen peroxide, it’s not smart to use peroxide on its own as an at-home whitening method.
While hydrogen peroxide has been approved by the American Dental Association for use in whitening products, using too much of it on its own can harm gums and dental tissue. With this in mind, stick with traditional dental products infused with safe levels of hydrogen peroxide.
4. Brushing with Charcoal
Activated charcoal is an ingredient that’s popped up virtually everywhere in recent years. Used for everything from skincare to home nausea remedies, activated charcoal is touted for its supposed ability to draw toxins out of the body and mouth, thus whitening teeth, cleansing skin, and more.
Unfortunately, most of these claims are a bit overblown. As it stands now, charcoal in dental products has never been approved as safe or effective by the ADA, and may be toxic.
As if that weren’t enough, using activated charcoal on the teeth may have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for: making teeth appear more yellow by wearing away enamel and exposing the under layers of teeth.
5. Tooth Gems
Bedazzling was a major trend once popular for everything from jeans to purses. But it should stop at your teeth, don’t you think? Unfortunately, lots of people disagree and apply tooth gems (colored stones or gems) to their mouths! These stones are applied with powerful adhesives that, while removable, can ultimately damage or destroy enamel. Instead of applying “grills” or tooth gems to your mouth, take care of your teeth and trust that your beautiful, white smile will shine enough on its own.
4. Fluoride-Free Dental Products
Fluoride has been used to strengthen and enhance teeth for years. Recently, however, it’s come under fire from critics who claim that fluoride is disruptive to natural hormone balances, and can cause chronic health conditions.
According to dentists and dental societies like the ADA, however, fluoride is a key component in dental products. Designed to prevent dental decay, make teeth stronger and less vulnerable to cavity-forming acids and components, fluoride is essential to good overall dental health.
5 Ways to Build Strong Teeth
While there are lots of things you want to avoid doing to your teeth, there are also several steps you can take to care for them and keep them strong and healthy.
With that in mind, follow these five tips to promote good dental health:
1. Brush Your Teeth Before Bed
As a general recommendation, dentists state you should brush at least twice daily. Despite this, many people forget (or neglect) to brush their teeth at night. As it turns out, though, this is one of the most important times to brush your teeth. In addition to leaving your mouth clean and fresh for an extended sleep, brushing at night gets rid of all the plaque and bacteria that built up in your mouth during the day.
2. Brush Properly
You brush your teeth every day, but are you doing it properly? If you’re brushing poorly, you may as well not be brushing at all. Here’s a breakdown of how to do it effectively: take your time while you brush your teeth. The toothbrush should move in gentle, circular motions designed to remove plaque and keep the mouth clean. Don’t brush hard enough to bloody gums or cause pain.
3. Brush Your Tongue
Every time you brush your teeth, remember to brush your tongue, as well. The reason for this is simple: plaque can build up on the tongue, as well, and will collect in the grooves and valleys of the tongue, over time. To prevent this and keep your mouth and breath fresh, brush your tongue each time you brush your teeth.
4. Use Fluoride Toothpaste
When it comes time to choose toothpaste, look for one that contains fluoride. A critical element in maintaining good dental health, fluoride fights germs that lead to dental decay and helps create a strong barrier that protects your teeth for years to come.
5. Treat Flossing as Essential
Many people who brush their teeth routinely neglect flossing just the same. Unfortunately, this is a troublesome approach that can lead to trouble down the road.
If you don’t floss your teeth when you brush, tiny particles of food get stuck between the teeth, leading to decay, cavities, and bad breath. Fortunately, flossing can remove these things. Additionally, flossing stimulates gums and keeps the mouth healthy.
Stick to Traditional Methods to Keep Your Mouth Healthy
When it comes to good dental health, sticking to the tried-and-true is often the smartest approach. Although dental fads can seem convincing, it’s important to remember that they’re frequently breathless claims, rather than actual science.
Want to learn more about how to care for your teeth? Contact our team to book your first appointment today.
Dr. Felicity is a National Board Certified Dentist and a Longtime resident of Charleston.