A good dental care routine is important for your general health regardless of your age. The practise of keeping your mouth clean and free of disease and other problems by regular brushing of the teeth and cleaning between the teeth is known as oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene is important to be carried out regularly to enable the prevention of dental disease and bad breath. A habit of brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups can help you have healthy teeth and gums. Good oral health care cuts across different stages of life, including before birth, during pregnancy, and throughout life.
Brushing and flossing
Your daily oral hygiene is necessary to maintain a healthy smile. This means you have to brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss to remove lingering foods particles between your gums and teeth. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric one is preferable.
While brushing, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, then tilt the brush to reach under your gums and brush your tongue after your teeth. Flossing is important as well as it has two functions – first, flossing removes food particles and breaks down accumulated plaque on the teeth.
Different age groups and people with special needs such as toddlers, adults, teens, seniors and pregnant women have to follow specialised dental care and examine their teeth and gums for oral health problems specific to each stage.
Dental care during pregnancy
Pregnant women need dental check-ups between 4 – 6 months of pregnancy. They also need extra care for their oral health, especially those with a sweet tooth or who experience morning sickness. Gum infection during pregnancy increases the chances of low birth weight or premature birth compared to people with healthy teeth and gums.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to dental issues for the following reasons.
- Vomiting and nausea – in the first trimester, many pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, which triggers vomiting, and the stomach acids brought up to the mouth weakens the enamel.
- Pregnancy gingivitis – the hormone level changes during pregnancy, making bacteria multiply quickly, increasing the risk of periodontal disease.
It is best to attend your regular dental check-ups during pregnancy to ensure your optimum health and the baby.
Oral health for babies and toddlers (six months – 3 years)
The teeth usually come in between 3 – 9 months, so it’s necessary to take your baby for the first dental appointment at about six months or when the first tooth comes in. However, ensure you take your baby to the dentist before the first birthday.
If you have an infant or toddler, ensure you check for early signs of dental issues. Most infants and toddlers suck their thumb, and it is normal, but ensure the thumb sucking doesn’t cause issues with the jaw and bite alignment.
To prevent your baby from developing baby bottle tooth decay, avoid giving the baby milk or juice in a bottle at night or during nap time.
Other tips for caring for your baby’s teeth include;
- Make flossing and brushing a fun activity
- Begin flossing when your child develops baby teeth that come in contact
- Use a mild toothpaste
- Visit the dentist and hygienist regularly
Oral hygiene for kids between 4 – 12
Most kids lose their teeth between 4 – 12 years. During this period, continue teaching your child a good oral hygiene routine and attending routine dental visits. Ensure you focus on encouraging the child to brush with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes and teach the child how to floss properly.
During the child’s dental visits, ensure you discuss your concerns regarding mouth guards, sealants, and orthodontic evaluation
Good oral hygiene for teens and young adults between 13 – 19 years
In the teenage and early adult years, the parents should set a good example for proper oral hygiene. You can teach your teenagers the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene to prevent cavities and tooth decay.
You can get different oral-care products for your teens and encourage them to maintain their oral health through healthy diets.
It is common for teens to feel image-conscious and tend to have issues with signs of crooked teeth or bad breath, causing insecurity. If your teen is concerned about their crooked teeth or bites issues, you can book an appointment with the dentist to examine the issue and discuss possible treatment options.
The wisdom teeth may come in during the late teenage years, so you may have to schedule an appointment to remove them and prevent infection, pain, and overcrowding.
Oral care for adults below 40 years
Taking care of your oral health in your mid-adult years is as important as when you were a child. If you neglect your gums and teeth, it may lead to tooth loss, decay and infection. Untreated cavities may develop further and may require a root canal.
Most people who develop gum disease do so in their mid-adult stage, making maintaining your oral care routine important. Oral hygiene practices such as flossing, brushing after every meal or at least twice daily, chewing sugar-free gum and using mouthwash can prevent you from spending a lot on expensive dental treatments.
Ensure you avoid tobacco products, use a mouth guard during sports activities, eat healthy foods, and visit a dental professional regularly for check-ups and dental cleanings.
Oral care for adults between 40 – 60
As you get older, your risk of certain health problems such as diabetes, stroke and heart diseases increases and these conditions can trigger gum disease. Ensure you maintain a generally healthy lifestyle and have regular medical check-ups and hygienist’s appointments to keep your general and dental health in check.
Remember to brush your teeth and floss every day because this is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy and germ-free mouth.
Common dental issues in mid-adult years include teeth discolouration, sensitivity and tooth loss. If you experience these issues, you may consider dentures, dental implants, bridges and crowns. If you have underlying health issues like diabetes, maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid complications.
Preventive care for adults above 60 years
Maintaining good oral health is a lifestyle, so continue taking steps to prevent dental problems even in your senior years. In your senior years, regular dental check-ups become more important. During the check-ups, the dentist will check for potential dental issues and treat them.
During this period, the dentist will always check for oral cancer signs. If you have open sores or changes in your tongue lining and cheek, the dentist will examine them.
Most seniors have a higher risk of periodontal disease, cavities and dry mouth due to side effects from certain medications. If you have bridges, dentures, or implants, follow your dentist’s instructions in caring for them.
Also, inform your dentist of any health condition you have or medication to enable them to offer preventive dental care. Ensure you visit the best dentist in St Albans at least two times a year and look for sensitivity or pain from cold and hot foods.
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