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Debunking Dental Myths: Which Are The Biggest?

Why go to the dentist when there’s nothing wrong? Should I organise an appointment with a cardiologist while I’m at it..?

If the life we live were a series of colour coded signs, for most they’d be all in Yellow Warning, and Orange Fluoro Yelling, with nothing in Calming-Information Blue.

Despite what we may tell ourselves.

We diet rather than maintain, take up exercise because we can’t breathe, and buy underwear when it disintegrates in the wash. We see the mechanic when there are rattles and thuds.

If you have a GP, they’re for prescriptions not check-ups: a truth for even those with access to free healthcare. In countries where seeing a doctor can cost you your house, sick people are never ill enough to afford it.

It’s the pressing irony of the folding paradigm of complicated 21st century lives. Health information overload means we don’t need to know what we don’t want know.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, no matter how many ways we might be wearing it down.

Deciding we’re just not good at maintenance is the best excuse to regularly see your dentist.

(By the way, why don’t we think a look-see with a cardiologist is a good idea..?)

In this magically transported, medieval world of dental myths, not making dental appointments because there’s nothing wrong is the one we most believe. It’s the fire-breathing dragon of these mental dental mythoi, and adherents likely have that same iron-and-brimstone breath.

It’s the legend of the hapless hero. The one believing, without prior knowledge or tools, that they clearly see into their own mouth and there portends nothing but future abundance.

Being your own pretend dentist is the same as declaring yourself Bob Dylan because you can sing all of Blood on The Tracks: the last album choice of a nervous orthodontist.

Believing in the tooth fairy triplets Orth, Prosth, and Perry O’Dontist giving free cutting-edge treatments while you sleep doesn’t help either. Jiminy Cricket, some day you’ll meet Prosth O’Dontist and he’ll be a real boy..!

With the jury out on binaural beats, oil pulling and bentonite, gambling your gob on Dr Google leans so far from worthy that gravity will soon make fun of you.

Statistically, it’s not a stretch to suggest that people without a pattern of regular dental check-ups also don’t routinely service their car. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but with both being about preventing Bad Things Happening, it stands to reason.

Sometimes we’re yet to realise that often equate minimising risk with not wanting to know.
Seems to be a strategy that never lets you down, right up until the head gasket blew, and just before the Great Plaque Build invited gingivitis to comfortably settle in.

“Not wanting to know” is the pinhole cavity journey to root canal, and the march of a fine front tooth to a weird, wobbly, and quite different drum.

There are endless horror stories of this first wild and mythical creature of the dental disinformation. While J.R.R Tolkien would have us speak politely to an enraged dragon, I respectfully suggest we slay it.

So, thustly slewn is that dragon; and with it the English language. (Temporarily.) Because a dragon ‘thustly slewn’ is the fearsome sound of boulder-cracking talons that make teeth grind until they snap in the jaw.

Makes you book that dental appointment, doesn’t it?

That idea you had of being your own indentured and highly trained personal psychic dentist, just took off on the last updraft of the dragon wings thoust dustly did slewn.

More English mangulation. (Do you like what I did there?) Not because it’s true or accurate but because it sounds good.

It’s how the innocuous becomes truth. There’s no dissonance to make you find out.

Who knows? “..thoust dustly did slewn” might be completely correct and acceptable. I have no idea; I just made it up. Someone’ll like it enough to tweet it and bleat it until eventually it’s an accepted and factual quote from a literary classic.

Which brings us to Brilliant Unquestionably Liked Legend #2: I make regular appointments with my dentist and I floss.

…you may very well make those regular appointments, but do you go?

Debunking Dental Myths: Which Are The Biggest?

No fairy dies every time a dental appointment is cancelled, but a polar bear does lose an ice floe. At the Annual Health Care Cancellations Awards, dental clinics clean up all those Oscars and Emmys and still, no matter how good a professional clean feels, none make any follow-up appointments.

Statistically, dental appointments are the most cancelled, the most forgotten, and thing we almost never remember to reschedule.

That regular dental appointments are often just a theory is never mentioned in any other debunking of dental myths – that’s how steeped in ancestral mythology this long-lived legend is.

Amidst all who trudge its dark secret, I am the only one to revealed it. As is my naming privilege, I choose Phantasdemoria: from the Greek phanta for froth of orange fire; and demoria for delusional and repetitious.

Sounds good. Whether that’s in fact, in truth or other, it now has a name and with it the chance to become a syndrome. Some are right now in contemplation of having Phantasdemoria or not, while the rest of us move on to the second part of this second myth: I floss therefore I am dentist.

Let’s face it. Nobody flosses.

If they do, it’s a Dark Arts ritual in front of the tv in sensaround disgusting.

So shine a light on these traditions of magical thinking. Be real about how often you really do think about, and properly attend to your dental health.

Forgive yourself for laxity. If the dentist wasn’t a twice-yearly priority during at least part of your childhood, it snakes easy transition into our adult hierarchy of importance. That ladder we so carefully position for falls to take us by surprise.

Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you’re all growed up. Doesn’t mean you’ll brush your teeth diligently before bed using all the right angles, the correct pressure and always for at least two minutes.

For some, it’s the bizarre justification that because they’re an adult they don’t have to brush their teeth.

So there, Mum and Dad!!

Maybe that’s why we believe that drinking through a straw protects our teeth. This is Dental Myth The Third, taking our hand and escorting us back to a milkshake drinkin’ childhood where a loose tooth was a good and exciting thing.

Such an enjoyable flight of fancy to take, an excuse to be a kid and look very much like an adult.

Claiming that drinking through a straw stops the staining effects of coffee and tea and negates the tooth-harming sugar of soft drinks, is a good theory that works particularly well if you happen to have a trunk.

And yes, I hear the trumpet of those naysayers. Those whom for years, have exclusively used a straw to consume all liquids except water. No matter the occasion: weddings, parties, anything.

To you I say, Jumbo roam free; take Lin Wang with you and say hello to Hanno. I know you won’t forget.

The reality of drinking is that we still hold that liquid in our mouth before we swallow.

We have to. Otherwise there’s no contact with tastebuds, no recognition of taste, and a few thousand bucks of good coffee and liquor goes right down the drain.

That activated charcoal is better than toothpaste is another legend of armchair dentistry. The attraction for this notion is the belief that its finely abrasive and detoxifying properties whiten teeth.

Like some dungeon-black back door has opened to tooth-whitening secrets.

Realistically, using charcoal too often and too harshly can wear tooth enamel and make teeth appear more yellow – not exactly the outcome you were promised.

Especially after all those black-spattered showers, and fervent cleaning of the vanity; so burn that charcoal myth on twin poles of hellfire.

Experiment. Try a whitening toothpaste. See if there’s any notable brightening without the professional treatments your dentist recommends, and don’t make up the results.

We’re dealing with the medusa of Great Myths of the Mouth here. We don’t need more snakes on this plane of thought. We’re taking its head clean off.

Brushing harder makes your teeth cleaner.

This is an abridged dental myth; one that in its entirety, has sloths hand-polishing gems at 300rpm, all trained in the use of aluminium oxide.

Having clean teeth is the result of effective brushing, not brute force.

Pressure causes damage to teeth and gums. Like a game of Battling Tops in the 70s, it’s all in the wrist action. Bristles should angle the gums, and gently moved back and forth.

Concentrating on two or three teeth at a time is a better technique than considering the whole menagerie as one. Teeth have different shapes to clean, and thoroughness takes a bit of time. Gums are sensitive, no matter how much flapping they can do.

Brush immediately after every meal is a half-right that needs to be righted.

Keep in mind there’s a difference between that, and having a bit of breakfast, a little lunch and a deadweight of dinner between your teeth all day. That creates an All-You-Can-Eat buffet for freeloading bacteria that you’ll pay the price for, so a bit of sense and sensibility here doesn’t go astray.

Not like dental facts from popular fiction.

So brushing straight away after eating, absolutely not: within 30 minutes, absolutely.

As a necessary part of digestion, our mouth is naturally more acidic after eating, regardless of how healthy or not the food. Introducing something mechanical like rubbing bristles across soft enamel in such an acidic environment is simply a way to damage teeth.

Which brings to mind something about an intention, and a road… and I’m not going down it.

Because some roads you shouldn’t go down. Because maps used to say, “There be dragons here”. But that don’t mean the dragons aren’t there.
Lorne Malvo, Fargo (2014)

Note: All content and media on the Elevate Dental Richmond website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.



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James Wong is a wonderful Dentist. The communication and patience through the procedure was first class.

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