Good practices for dental health should be a priority for every family and its members- regardless of age. Life is overwhelming, and many questions surrounding dental health get overlooked. For instance, when should a child first go to the dentist? What are some dental problems I may face as I get older? How old is too old for dental care?
Dental care changes as you age, and it’s important to be aware of your dental needs no matter the life stage. To help you best assess your dental needs, we put together this guide for dental care by age.
They may not have teeth yet, but dental care for babies is still important. There are several steps you can take before a child starts teething to get rid of any bacteria that may be clinging to the baby’s gums. The best way to do this is to gently wipe down the gums at least twice a day with a moistened washcloth or gauze. It’s recommended that the gums be wiped down after feedings and right before bedtime. Visits to the dentist are unnecessary until the child turns one.
Teethers and Toddlers
Once your child starts teething, you can begin using a toothbrush. Start with a soft-bristled toothbrush with a large handle and small head and non-fluoridated toothpaste. Gradually let the child begin brushing her own teeth, but be sure to teach and keep a watchful eye that they brush every tooth thoroughly.
Switch to fluoride toothpaste when you feel comfortable, but it’s recommended not to do so before age two. Be sure to supervise your child’s brushing until you fully trust them to do an efficient job on their own. Check out these fun toothbrushing songs that may make training more fun!
Adolescence Through Adulthood
For the majority of us, age isn’t much of a factor in a dental health routine. However, it remains a vital to your oral health. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. Checkups (including x-rays and cleanings) should be received by a dental professional twice a year.
During this time in life, many people may get braces. Caring for your orthodontics can be tricky, but is especially important as food and bacteria can easily get stuck in between the metal brackets and wiring, which could eventually cause decay. Many tools like floss threaders and proxabrushes are available at stores like Target and Wal-Mart to help make dental hygiene with braces easier.
As you age, proper dental hygiene becomes even more crucial as seniors are susceptible to more dental problems. However, proper care can help prevent the following problems:
- Dry Mouth: Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth. It’s often caused by cancer treatment, such as radiation or chemotherapy, and other diseases. Drinking lots of water and chewing sugar-free gum can help keep your mouth moist and your saliva flowing.
- Gum Disease: Poor fitting dentures and certain diseases such as diabetes or cancer can often cause gum disease. Regular maintenance and upkeep of your oral health as well as healthy eating can help avoid this.
- Tooth Loss: Tooth loss in seniors often associated with different diseases, such as gum disease or dementia. Proper dental care can help prevent this. If you start losing teeth, it’s important to see a dentist immediately.
- Oral Thrush: Oral thrush is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth caused by diseases such as dry mouth, diabetes or cancer. Thrush can be prevented by eating yogurt that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, in addition to routine care for your mouth.
Caring for dentures is important, too. You should clean your dentures once a day with a soft brush and denture cleaner, and always rinse after eating. When you’re not wearing your dentures, be sure to keep them completely submerged in water, or else the dentures will dry out, causing them to warp. Hot water can also cause them to change shape, so be sure to only use cool or lukewarm water. Be very careful when handling your dentures so as not to drop them. It’s recommended that you only handle them while standing over a sink full of water or a folded towel, just in case.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, dental care is pricey. A dental discount plan can help save you thousands on your dental bill, and there are no age restrictions. So, whether you’re taking your child for their very first dentist visit or getting fitted for dentures, there’s a discount for everyone.