Good oral hygiene habits must be instilled in children from a very young age to protect their overall health. Oral hygiene is significantly correlated with risk of disease. Poor oral health is a prevalent issue around the world; in fact tooth decay is the second most common health problem, in the U.S. alone more than 60 percent of adolescents have some sort of gum disease. Cavities and gum disease can easily be prevented with proper dental care and routine visits to the dentist. Here are the stages of oral health and how we should handle each one properly.
Dental Care for Infants
- Begin preparing your baby for proper dental care by wiping his or her gums after each feeding with a clean, wet cloth.
- When your child’s first tooth erupts, use a toothbrush designed for a child’s teeth and plain water to familiarize them with the habit.
- Make flossing a habit as soon as two of your child’s teeth touch.
- Visit a pediatric dentistry practitioner in your child’s first year and continue on a routine basis through the years.
- At two years old, begin brushing your child’s teeth using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily. Also ensure your child is not swallowing the toothpaste.
Dental Care for Children
- As parents we should assist our children with twice daily brushing using a child sized toothbrush and pea sized amount of toothpaste, up to age seven.
- Children may require assistance in once daily flossing until they feel confident in the skill.
- At age seven, your child should be able to brush their teeth twice a day with minimal supervision. You should observe for proper technique and thorough dental care through age 11.
- Maintain regular visits to the dentist at least once every six months, or more, as the dentist recommends.
- Ask your pediatric dentist if he/she recommends sealants to aid cavity-prevention for your child.
Dental Care Habits for Teens
- Teens should fully grasp how and when to brush their teeth and floss, but small reminders may be necessary. The overall importance of tooth brushing may not be fully embraced.
- Teens with braces should be encouraged to brush more frequently and utilize the special oral cleaning tools and products that are meant to enhance orthodontic dental care.
- Teens should be aware of healthy eating habits that won’t compromise their dental work.
- Teens should embrace that routine visits to the dentist’s office are necessary at least twice per year.
Dental Care for Adults and the Elderly
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste to remove dental plaque which is the sticky film on your teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay and inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, before it can harden into tartar, once tartar has formed; it can only be removed by a dental hygienist during a professional cleaning.
- Brush shortly after snacking; limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. The more often you snack between meals, the more chances you give bacteria to create the acids that attack your tooth enamel.
- Don’t use tobacco in any form; it will only increase your risk of getting mouth and throat cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions.
- If your medication or illness produces dry mouth, drink plenty of water, chew sugar free gum, and avoid alcohol, which tends to dehydrate your body.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash these can reduce the buildup of plaque.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.