Pain isn't your biggest problem
Some truly educated people think that if nothing in their mouth hurts, they're fine. High cholesterol doesn't hurt, either, but it's a big problem. I honestly think that the general population doesn't understand that their mouth is part of their body.—Danine Fresch Gray, DDS, general dentist, Arlington, Virginia
You don't see me enough
The advice to see your dentist twice a year applies only if you have healthy gums. Most people don't.—Chris Kammer, DDS, cosmetic dentist, Middleton, Wisconsin
You forget to brush your whole mouth
Many of my patients have periodontal disease affecting their back teeth, but their front teeth are fine. Evidently, they brush only what others see.—Joel Slaven, DDS, general dentist, Valencia, California. Look out for these cavity symptoms you shouldn't ignore.
Floss—before it's too late
Dentists often tell patients with advanced gum disease to floss more often. But flossing is useless at that point. Imagine trying to clean out the bottom of a shirt pocket with a piece of string tied to your fingers.—Reid Winick, DDS, holistic dentist, New York, New York
Spend more time on your teeth
Proper oral hygiene requires ten minutes of brushing and flossing every day. The average adult spends two or three minutes total, and kids do even worse.—Joel Slaven, DDS
Yes, I know that you smoke
People who smoke try to cover it up with mints or mouthwash, but that stench is steeped into their gum tissue and the tissues in their mouth.—Jennifer Jablow, DDS, cosmetic dentist, New York, New York
Here's the deal with bad breath...
Brushing doesn't go deep enough into the gums to reach the plaque that causes bad breath. You need to floss every day and get a cleaning every few months. If you do all that and still have bad breath, I start looking into diet and checking for health problems.—Ned Windmiller, DDS, general dentist, Stillwater, Minnesota. Here are 12 more reasons you could have bad breath.
Mouthwash isn't all it's cracked up to be
A mouthwash with alcohol dries out your mouth—you'll smell nice and minty for a half hour, but then the bad breath comes back worse than ever.—Gary Herskovits, DDS, family dentist, Brooklyn, New York
Don't stress about germs on your toothbrush
There's no reason to sanitize a toothbrush unless you're sharing it with other people. Those UV devices and other germ zappers are totally unnecessary.—Joel Slaven, DDS
Know what's in your toothpaste
Tamas Panczel Eross/Shutterstock
There's a limit to what toothpaste can do. New whitening formula? It can get rid of surface stains, but it can't whiten like a bleach.—Careen Young, DDS, prosthodontist, Beverly Hills, California