A trip to the dentist’s office is a necessary evil most of us would happily do without. But as it turns out, we don’t know as much about visiting the tooth doctor as we think. In fact, there are a few secrets dentists keep to themselves that you should probably know.
Here are the secrets your dentist won’t tell you. (Page 11 may surprise you.)
Not brushing before a cleaning is disgusting
Just because you’re going in for a cleaning, doesn’t mean it’s OK to eat and then not brush your teeth before seeing your dentist. In fact, it’s downright disgusting, though your dentist may not come right out and say anything. “This is more for courtesy than anything else,” Best Oral Hygiene says. “But if you have eaten anything beforehand, particularly if it is rather pungent, the flavor and residue may still be in your mouth even after brushing.”
Next: A serious note about your health
Not flossing is ruining your health
Fact: Nobody flosses as much as they should. And while your dentist may tell you this, they may not emphasize how much flossing can affect your overall health. In addition to leading to cavities and gum disease, researchers are finding links between poor oral health and heart disease, according to WebMD.
Next: Here’s a big no-no — no matter what doctor you’re seeing.
Lying about your medical background can be hazardous
Falsifying your medical background only hurts one person: you. This becomes an especially big problem when you aren’t upfront about what medications you’re taking. Some medications negatively impact oral health or can complicate your dentist visit. “You should also mention any side effects you’ve experienced as these can negatively affect oral health and even lead to more serious conditions,” Delta Dental explains.
Next: Dentists can help more than just your teeth.
Dentists are go-tos for bad headaches
It’s true: Dental problems, such as tooth infections and TMJ, can be the source of headaches. “Headaches caused by TMJ disorder may be on one or both sides and are usually localized to the temples,” Everyday Health tells us. Additionally, an infected tooth can result in a sinus infection. Telling your dentist or hygienist about migraine headaches can open you up to finding a solution.
Next: Be mindful of your dentist’s feelings.
Your reaction to getting a checkup can sting
Nobody likes going to the dentist. But constantly verbalizing how much you despise being there can wear on your dentist and hygienist. “Imagine hearing multiple times during your workday how much you are hated,” one dentist told BuzzFeed. “I know of no other profession in which it is acceptable to tell a doctor how much you hate them.” Your tooth doctor may not say these words are hurtful, but they certainly have an impact.
Next: Here’s something that really drives your tooth doctor insane.
Freaking out over fluoride is unnecessary
Your dentist may tolerate your fear of having fluoride in your mouth. But really, this unnecessary unease drives them nuts. “Fluoride is not poison,” one dentist tells BuzzFeed. “If it was harmful to you, we wouldn’t apply it.” It may taste disgusting, but there’s no reason to have a panic attack over it.
Next: And another thing …
Freaking out over X-rays is also unnecessary
Think about it: If X-rays were that dangerous, would your dentist insist on you having them? “You are much worse off if we are unable to detect decay or any other issue because you refuse X-rays,” one dentist tells BuzzFeed. Remember this the next time your dentist fights the urge to argue why you need to have X-rays taken.
Next: Time to talk about bad breath.
Mouthwash isn’t as great as you think
Bad breath can come from a variety of things. And your store-bought mouthwash isn’t enough to take care of it. Gary Herskovits, DDS, tells Reader’s Digest that “you’ll smell nice and minty for a half hour, but then the bad breath comes back worse than ever.” Brushing and flossing properly are the best tools for combating bad breath, unless it’s being caused by another health problem.
Next: When it comes to taking care of your oral health at home …
Electric toothbrush or bust?
If there’s one thing your dentist wishes you would just do, it’s buy an electric toothbrush. While the American Dental Association says both manual and powered brushes can be used effectively, an electric brush can make it easier to clean all the corners of the mouth — particularly for people with hampered motor skills. An electric brush is more expensive, but it can be worth the extra penny.
Next: You’re never too young to start.
Good dental hygiene should start at a young age
There’s a good reason there are cartoons for kids that emphasize the importance of brushing your teeth. Taking care of a child’s teeth — yes, even the baby teeth — goes a long way to helping them have better oral care as they get older. Plus, their oral health can affect how they function in life. “Kids with dental problems often struggle in school,” Winifred J. Booker, DDS, tells Reader’s Digest. “Teachers will say they have behavior problems, but they really have toothaches.”
Next: Something your dentist is totally judging you for
A great income doesn’t excuse rotting teeth
It’s true. You might think of good oral care as a sign of class and wealth — as archaic as that might seem. But in reality, dentists still see patients in expensive cars and well-tailored suits with poor dental health. The same goes for children from families with money. One dentist tells Reader’s Digest that “it’s not unusual for me to see a beautiful little child dressed to the nines with teeth rotted down to the gums.” Long story short: There’s no monetary coverup for bad oral health.
Next: This is worth asking your dentist.
Not all fillings are created equal
Before saying yes or no to fillings, you should get as much information from your dentist as possible. There are three main types of fillings: gold, silver amalgam and composite — and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. “It’s a good idea that you learn the pros and cons of each of these fillings to have an educated discussion with your dental professional,” Solstice Benefits explains.
Next: Avoiding fillings means knowing what foods to avoid, as well.
Is there anything worse for your teeth than soda?
It’s well-recognized that soda is one of the worst things for your teeth. But there are a few other things out there that can also make them rot right out of your mouth. According to Carefree Dental, energy drinks are actually worse for your teeth than soda. Certain kinds of tea can cause erosion, while eating too much citrus can cause enamel to decay.
Next: That’s not all your dentist doesn’t want to see in your mouth.
Dentists have horror stories they’d rather not share
Your dentist and hygienist may spend all day digging around in people’s mouths. But they still get surprised by things floating around in patients’ gobs. However, they aren’t likely to sit there in their office and gossip to you about all the horrifying things they’ve seen. (But if you’re dying to know, Women’s Health chronicled some truly terrifying tooth appointments.)
Next: And one last thing …
Nobody likes dealing with insurers, not even your dentist
Insurance companies can make your coverage confusing, and your doctor is probably just as confused as you are. So next time, don’t take your anger at your insurer out on your dentist — they’re secretly just as frustrated. And don’t take your frustration out on the dentist’s secretary either because they’re more than likely in the same boat you are.
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