Oral Health Care for Each Stage of Life
Good dental care is essential for your overall health regardless of your age. Everyone in your family needs to get into a good routine of brushing, flossing, and scheduling regular dental checks as soon as possible. Good oral health care should begin before birth, at pregnancy, and continue into the golden years.
Pregnant mothers, toddlers, teens, adults, and seniors should all follow specific dental practices, and look out for certain oral health issues that may arise at each stage of life. Here are our dental tips for every stage of life to help you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile!
Dental Health During Pregnancy
Pregnant women should schedule dental checkups between 4-6 months gestation. You should be extra diligent with your oral hygiene during pregnancy, especially if you suffer from morning sickness or have a sweet tooth. If you have an infection in your gums during pregnancy, the chances of having a premature birth or low birth weight can be slightly higher than if you have healthy gums and teeth.
Pregnant women are usually susceptible to dental problems for two primary reasons:
- Pregnancy gingivitis: Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy allow bacteria to multiply, making periodontal disease more common.
- Nausea and vomiting: During the first trimester, morning sickness can trigger vomiting, causing the stomach acids to weaken the enamel on your teeth.
It is necessary and safe to have dental treatments during pregnancy since your baby’s teeth are also developing. Keep your regular dental appointments throughout pregnancy, and avoid cosmetic work.
Oral Health for Babies & Toddlers (6 Months to 3 Years)
Teething often occurs between the ages of 3-9 months. It is a good idea to take your baby for a first dental trip at six months or when the first tooth erupts, but no later than the first birthday.
With infants and toddlers, it’s essential to look out for any potential issues early. Thumb sucking is pretty normal behavior for young children, but make sure the habit doesn’t trigger issues with bite and jaw alignment. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, avoid putting juice or milk in a bottle during nap time or at night.
Other tips to take care of baby teeth include:
- Between 6 months to age 3, brush using mild toothpaste
- Make brushing and flossing fun
- See your dentist regularly
- Floss when your baby develops teeth that touch each other
Encouraging Kids Ages 4 to & 12
Kids start losing teeth between the age of 4 and 7 years through 12. Continue teaching good oral habits and schedule regular dental visits. More importantly, focus on brushing with fluoride toothpaste for full two minutes and teach proper flossing. Always discuss any concerns with your dentist, especially regarding sealants, mouth guards, and orthodontic evaluations.
Supporting Teens & Young Adults 13 to 21
During the teenage and early adulthood stage, parents need to set a good example for oral health care. Teach your teens the importance of maintaining a great dental hygiene routine to prevent tooth decay and cavities. You can easily promote healthy smiles by having plenty of oral health-care products on hand and by encouraging healthy diets.
If your teen is image-conscious, has bad breath, or crooked teeth, they can develop deep insecurity. If your child needs to straighten teeth or correct their bite, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss various options such as Invisalign or traditional braces. Wisdom teeth also come out during late teens and will likely need to be removed to prevent crowding, pain, and infection.
Maintaining Optimal Health for Adults Under 40
Oral care during your mid-adult life is just as critical as it is during childhood. Neglected teeth and gums can trigger tooth decay, tooth loss, and infections. If a cavity becomes too deep, your dentist may recommend a root canal.
Many people develop gum disease during mid-adulthood, and maintaining oral health is critical to avoid costly procedures. Follow good hygiene habits such as brushing at least twice per day or after every meal, flossing, gargling with mouthwash, and chewing sugar-free gum. Additionally, schedule dental appointments at least twice every year, eat healthily, avoid tobacco, and use a mouth guard during sports.
The Changing Needs of Adults 40 to 60
Prevention is the best remedy when it comes to oral care as an adult over 40. Severe gum disease is often triggered by common medical problems such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Be sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle and schedule regular medical checkups to keep such diseases at bay.
Additionally, you should always remember daily brushing and flossing since they are the best way to keep your mouth healthy and germ-free. Regular visits to your dentist, along with good dental habits, can prevent many diseases and keep you smiling for years to come.
Other common dental concerns during late adulthood include missing teeth, sensitivity, and discoloration. Take advantage of new technology and techniques in dentistry and explore your restoration options such as dental implants and dentures. Commit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially if you have other underlying health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
Preventive Care for Adults Over 60
Good oral health is a lifestyle, and you should continue maintaining a healthy mouth as a senior to prevent a multitude of health problems. During this stage of life, it’s essential to schedule regular dental checkups (even if you wear dentures) so your dentist can look out for any potential problems that need to be addressed.
This is the time to look out for early signs of oral cancer. Any open sores or changes in the cheek and tongue lining should be checked by your dentist. Seniors are also surprisingly prone to cavities, periodontal disease, and dry mouth as a side effect of medication.
Always follow your dentist’s instructions with regards to caring for implants, bridges, and dentures. You should also let your dentist know about any health conditions or medications you use so they can tailor your preventive dental care. Adults above the age of 60 should see a dentist at least twice a year and pay attention to sores, pain, or sensitivity to cold and hot foods.
Keep Your Smile Healthy for Life
As long as you stick to a good oral hygiene routine throughout your lifetime, you can prevent many serious dental problems. If you have any comments about addressing oral health for each stage of life, feel free to share it with us in the comment box below.