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7 Lies You Need To Stop Saying To Your Dentist

We’ve all been there, frantically brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash before going to our dentist appointment. And when you’re asked the dreaded question “have you been flossing,” many patients feel too embarrassed to say no. This is a common occurrence at the dental office. People have a tendency to stretch the truth a little bit when confronted about their oral care habits.

Dentists can see right through it, explains Shawn Adibi, DDS, an associate professor in the department of general practice and dental public health at the University of Texas. In some cases, patients say they floss once a week, one good look at their mouth and you’ll see that they mean something like every other week. A person’s mouth is a pretty good reflection of not just oral health but also general wellbeing.

To create a close rapport between you and your dentist, here are seven lies to stop telling at your next appointment.

1. “I floss regularly.”

A toothbrush can only remove plaque from as far as above the gum line. If you want to reach in between your teeth and below your gums, you definitely should floss. Improper oral hygiene can lead to inflammation of the gums, called gum disease or gingivitis. It’s a giveaway that you are doing the flossing wrong or you’re not doing it as often as you should.

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. They also suggest guiding the string between the teeth instead of snapping it up into the gums. Use gentle up-and-down motions to dislodge any food particles.

2. “I don’t drink alcohol very often.”

Aside from alcohol’s distinct smell, those who drink heavily usually have a dry mouth condition. The drink interferes with the salivary glands, thus decreases saliva production.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, heavy drinkers tend to have five or more drinks on the same occasion, on five or more days in the past month. The American Cancer Society also reveals that around 7 out of 10 oral cancer patients are addicted to alcohol. Before it completely damages your oral and overall health, find a professional to help you quit.

3. “That doesn’t hurt.”

Clenching your eyes shut, your legs and tongue tightening, your face grimacing – these are all proof that you are in pain. Your body goes into a defensive mode when you’re hurting, and your dentist can tell. If you experience sharp pain, speak up. In that case, the dentist might have to apply a topical anesthetic. If your appointment is for more than just a routine cleaning, call the office beforehand and ask if there’s any pain medication you can take before the procedure.

4. “I don’t smoke.”

Smoking leads to not only nicotine and tobacco stains on the teeth, but it can also cause yellow teeth, gum disease, and oral cancer. Don’t give your dentist a hard time trying to examine your clothes for tobacco smell or your fingers for nicotine stains. If you’re smoking, better be straightforward about it.

There are teeth whitening solutions your dentist can offer to bring back your smile, but the surefire way is to just quit smoking. Smoking doesn’t only put you at risk of lung cancer, it also heightens your risk for pretty much any other type of cancer, including those of the throat and mouth. Smokeless tobacco like chew and snuff is not safe either. It can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are resources to help you quit the habit.

5. “I don’t grind my teeth at night.”

Grinding wears out your teeth, and it’s obvious. If you have headaches or feel muscle pain around your jaw, you could have a condition called “nocturnal bruxism,” also known as nocturnal tooth grinding. This may not count as an actual lie since you’re probably unaware of it. Thankfully, most dentists will notice this immediately and may recommend a bite guard or another type of dental device to protect your tooth enamel. Discuss this possibility with your dentist just to be sure.

6. “I got lost on the way to your office.”

Some patients become so anxious about seeing a dentist that they tend to delay their appointment. If you are not transparent with your dentist about your fear of dental checkups and procedures, your future visits may also be affected. A study released on the journal Frontiers of Public Health showed that fear of dentist appointments can cause oral health problems for the patient.

Tell your dentist if you’re nervous – it’s definitely something they haven’t heard before so there’s no reason to feel embarrassed about it. He or she might be able to give you oxygen to lower your anxiety or take other steps to calm you during the visit. For those with severe dental anxiety, a psychologist can better help with treatment.

7. “I hardly ever drink soda.”

If you’re like half of the American population, chances are you’ve had a sugary drink today – and it may have been soda. Carbonated sugary drinks have ill effects on your smile, potentially resulting in cavities and visible tooth decay. The acid in lemonade and citrus fruits can also wear away the protective layer of enamel that coats the outside of your teeth, leading to damage.

Dentists advise to say no to soda or avoid sipping on them for long periods. After drinking, the least you can do to control the damage is to rinse your mouth with water. This will remove any acid and sugar that can linger on your teeth and erode enamel.

When you lie about drinking alcohol or flossing, problems will arise later on. If a patient who says she flosses daily has gum disease, she could have an undiscovered health problem, even something as bad as leukemia. Telling the truth about your dental care habits allows your dentist to provide the best possible treatment. If you’re lying, you might be required to undergo unnecessary testing for nothing.