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There can’t be many three-word phrases in the English language more dangerous than “Everybody knows that”. More and more, these words together are used in lieu of any actual proof, freeing the user from having to provide references.

“Kiss of life? Yeah, you push on their chest and then breathe into their mouth. Everyone knows that!” (No, that isn’t how it works).

“If you can’t get to sleep, just lie there and clear your mind of all thought. Everyone knows that.” (Wrong, again. Really, just try right now to clear your mind of all thought. Doesn’t work.)

The danger of the “everyone knows that” mindset is that, when it comes to looking after your health, you don’t think critically. Before you embark on any dental health choice based on what “everyone” knows, try researching the “fact”. You may be surprised by what you learn. There are a lot of tooth-related myths around

Myth: You Should Brush Right After Every Meal

No, you shouldn’t. Although it’s easy to see the logic behind it, this will actually do more harm than good. Yes, after eating there are food particles in your mouth. Your mouth has its own defence system against this, and it involves acid, which softens the tooth enamel.

If you brush within 30 minutes of having eaten, you are liable to scrape enamel off the tooth surface. Let your mouth do what it needs to do. Then in 30 minutes or so, go in and round up any stragglers. And stop smoking right after eating – that’s guaranteed to damage your teeth faster than at any other time.

Myth: There’s No Need To Floss, Just Brush Well

Food can get caught between our teeth, especially things like sweetcorn and steak which take some chewing. This is a problem for two reasons. One, it can get under the gum and cause discomfort by pulling it away from the tooth. Two, if it gets lodged in there, it will rot and contribute to halitosis.

Suppliers like BF Mulholland and similar specialists are a good source of flossers outside of the basics found at supermarkets. Flossers are the best way of removing these stubborn bits of food. If you try brushing more to remove them, you can just push them further in. A water flosser, which flushes the mouth, is the best bet.

Myth: If Your Gums Are Bleeding, It’s Bad! Stop Brushing!

Some TV shows will have parts where a character is brushing their teeth and notice blood when they spit. This is indicated as being a sign of some serious health issue. In fact, it’s really not uncommon to have some blood when you brush your gums. And you should brush your gums – they benefit as much from the cleaning as your teeth do. As does your tongue; all of these are areas where bacteria can collect.

It’s a matter of how much and how often you bleed. A pinkish tinge in the spit is fine – but if it’s darker, nearly red, and stays that way across several brushes, it’s time to see your dentist. You may have gum disease, and that can get serious if left untreated.

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