Good dental hygiene is a lifelong commitment, and while practices like brushing and flossing are a priority throughout our entire lives, there are other certain aspects of dental health that are unique to each age bracket. We wanted to help outline some of those lesser known facts and tips from each stage of life to help ensure excellent dental health at every age.
Infants and Toddlers:
While many don’t think of dental care as an immediate priority for babies, oral hygiene actually becomes necessary just weeks after a baby is born. Dental care for infants consists of taking a damp strip of gauze or a washcloth and wiping their gum line. Babies are born with a full set of teeth, and these usually begin to surface when the child is about 6 months to one year old.
As soon as teeth surface, decay becomes a possibility, so it’s important to make your child’s first dentist appointment as soon as the first tooth comes in, or no later than your child’s first birthday.
Once the teeth surface, it’s time to introduce brushing with fluoride toothpaste. For children aged 3 and under, the amount of toothpaste used should be no larger than a grain of rice. This is also the age where good habits, like brushing twice daily, begin to be established. For children aged 3 – 6, you can increase the amount of toothpaste to be about the size of a pea. Children should be supervised and reminded not to swallow toothpaste until brushing habits are solidified.
Children should continue brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, every day. At this time, kids should also be encouraged to brush for two minutes to ensure a complete clean. Flossing can be introduced around the age of ten. This is because flossing requires more dexterity skill, so younger children aren’t able to floss thoroughly.
Childhood is also the point where other healthy habits, such as limiting sugar intake and eating fruits and veggies, can become a part of your child’s life. Make sure you keep up with your child’s annual dentist check ups, so they can realize the importance of regular dentist visits. By implementing these healthy habits early on, you’re setting your child up for a lifetime of good dental health.
Teenage years are when braces become more common. While your child has braces they should continue to avoid sticky, sugary foods, and to brush and floss consistently. Flossing with braces becomes a more involved process, but is definitely still doable with the help of threaders that can help feed the floss in between the brackets.
If your teenager is involved in any contact sports, it’s crucial that they wear a mouth guard. 3 million teeth are lost at sporting events each year, and a mouth guard helps prevent the time and cost involved with having to replace lost teeth.
Into adulthood, it’s important to refrain from unhealthy habits like smoking, which can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Most major problems can be avoided by seeing your dentist twice a year, so it’s wise to stay on top of your check up schedule.
Pregnancy poses new dental issues, as hormonal changes can contribute to gingivitis. Gingivitis affects as many as half of all pregnant women, which can make additional dentist visits necessary, especially during the second and early third trimester.
Adults Aged 60+:
For some adults over the age of 60, cavities may actually become more prevalent. This is likely due to medications that have dry mouth as a side effect. Saliva helps sweep away bacteria and keep the mouth clean, so when the mouth is drier than normal it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Some remedies for dry mouth include drinking more water or chewing sugarfree gum to increase saliva production.
Adults above the age of 60 are also more susceptible to oral cancer and gum disease, making regular dentist visits even more crucial.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, Ashley Dental Associates is here to help you. Call us or request an appointment online to set up your next check up.