There are a lot of misconceptions about oral health that can wind up hurting your teeth – and your wallet.
But one thing is for sure: Routine checkups are essential for your oral and overall health. You can get the care you need without having to worry about expense with Altus Dental through AAA Northeast, an affordable, accessible way to get dental coverage in Massachusetts.
Here are eight common dental myths and the truths behind them, so you can maintain your great smile and live a healthier life.
Myth 1: The harder you brush, the better.
When your teeth feel dirty, it can be tempting to put some elbow grease into it and brush harder. Or when you’re shopping for a toothbrush, you might think that harder bristles will clean better than soft ones. But more pressure doesn’t always mean a better clean.
If you brush your teeth too hard, it can actually cause some negative effects, like eroding tooth enamel and making your teeth more sensitive. It can also cause other issues, like receding gum lines, which can increase the risk of tooth loss.
Want to make sure your teeth are clean without over-brushing? Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles, apply less pressure and brush for two minutes, twice a day. You may also want to try brushing with your less dominant hand to lighten up on the pressure.
Myth 2: You don’t really need to floss every day.
You probably learned to floss every day when you were a child, but did you stick with it? Despite their dentists’ recommendations, some people have a hard time establishing a regular flossing routine or may neglect flossing altogether.
Flossing is important for your overall oral health, delivering results your twice daily brushing regimen can’t do on its own. Flossing works hand in hand with brushing to help remove food and plaque from the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth, which can lead to cavities, gum disease, bad breath and more.
If you struggle with flossing or find it uncomfortable, floss picks or dental tape floss (flatter and smoother than traditional floss) may help. The more you floss, the easier it becomes. So, don’t toss your floss – your mouth needs it.
Myth 3: The whiter your teeth, the healthier they are.
There’s an entire industry dedicated to teeth whitening products and treatments, but whiter teeth don’t necessarily mean healthier teeth. Overuse of most teeth whitening products may weaken your tooth enamel and could make your teeth and gums more sensitive. If you still want to whiten your teeth, you absolutely can. Just remember to use these products sparingly and talk to your dentist before trying them.
Myth 4: You only need to see the dentist if something hurts.
Ouch! Don’t wait until your teeth are sensitive or in pain to see your dentist. Dentists don’t just repair your teeth – they help keep them in fighting (and biting) shape! Your dentist will also be able to see if you have any oral health issues that you might not be able to see or feel yet. Regular dentist visits and teeth cleanings are an important part of your oral – and overall – health.
Most dentists recommend visiting for a routine exam and cleaning every six months, but you should talk to your dentist and see which schedule is right for you.
Myth 5: You can’t afford to see the dentist.
If you don’t have dental insurance through your employer, going to the dentist can seem like a big expense. But there’s another way to get insured and get yourself in that dentist’s chair – individual dental insurance.
AAA Northeast has partnered with Altus Dental for exclusive access to affordable dental insurance for AAA members in Massachusetts. Insurance usually covers the cost of preventive care like cleanings, exams and X-rays. Plus, if you ever need one of the more expensive procedures like root canals, crowns and dental implants, you’ll pay much less out-of-pocket than you would without insurance. The savings can add up quickly.
Here’s a checklist to help you choose the right dental insurance company:
- Is the company a leader in their industry? Do their members give them positive reviews?
- Do they have a large network with the right dentist for you? Are they convenient for you? Do they offer a Find a Dentist tool to make it easy to choose a provider?
- Do they have the types of plans and coverage that is best for your needs?
- How is their customer service? Chat with a company representative and see what kind of experience you have.
- Do they offer self-service or digital tools to make insurance easy for you, like an online cost estimator and a mobile app for subscribers?
Don’t delay in getting dental insurance and seeing your dentist. Routine dentist visits can help keep your oral health in shape and prevent costly difficulties down the road. And if you do wind up having an unexpected dental issue, it helps to already be insured.
Myth 6: Babies don’t need to go to the dentist.
Children will eventually lose their baby teeth, but they still have to brush. Learning good dental hygiene at an early age will build good habits that a child will have their whole life. But it’s also important from a health standpoint. Baby teeth hold space for later adult teeth to come in, and they are important for chewing and speaking. Plus, early childhood tooth decay, which affects children up to four years old, can be extremely painful for a child.
If you have a child who’s too young to brush on their own, you can use a clean washcloth or soft toothbrush to clean their teeth at least once a day. Children should start seeing a dentist when their first tooth appears, or when they reach 12 months of age. Fortunately, Altus Dental offers AAA members in Massachusetts great discounts for family dental insurance plans.
Myth 7: Tooth decay is unavoidable with age.
Are you destined for dentures? Maybe not. It’s true that when you’re older, your teeth have been through a lot. Your mouth will change as you age, and certain prescription medications can give you conditions such as dry mouth, but tooth decay and tooth loss are not inevitable. As long as you maintain your healthy habits, your teeth can last long and stay strong.
Myth 8: Your oral health doesn’t impact the rest of your body.
Your teeth and gums are a part of your body, and taking care of your oral health is an important part of taking care of your overall health. Medical conditions that have been linked to oral health include diabetes, heart disease, stroke and premature birth.
Good oral hygiene, like brushing, flossing and regular dentist visits, can help maintain the appropriate level of bacteria in your mouth and your digestive system as a whole. Your mouth is the gateway to your digestive system, and high levels of bacteria and germs can make you sick.
The best way to maintain your oral health is to regularly see a dentist. With Altus Dental, AAA members in Massachusetts can get quality dental care and coverage at exclusive AAA member rates. Check your rate today.