Keeping your mouth healthy for a lifetime

September 9, 2019.TruAssure.0 Likes.0 Comments

Keeping your mouth healthy for a lifetime

Oral health is important no matter what your age. Taking proper care of your teeth and gums can help keep the rest of your body healthy by maintaining the balance of good oral bacteria and keeping infections at bay. Following these tips coupled with regular dental visits will help keep your mouth healthy for a lifetime.

Infants and Toddlers

Baby teeth are important. They help children speak and chew properly and hold space for the permanent teeth growing below the gums.1 Read more.

  • Prior to teeth erupting, wipe baby’s gums with a wet washcloth daily.
  • Once the first baby tooth has erupted, begin brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Children should visit  the dentist within six months of the first tooth or by age 1.
  • To prevent “baby bottle” tooth decay, do not put a child to sleep with a bottle full of milk or juice. This can cause tooth decay by exposing teeth to the sugars in milk or juice over an extended period of time.

Children ages 4 – 12

Although mostly preventable, tooth decay is the most common childhood disease and can interfere with a child’s ability to eat, speak, smile and concentrate. Good oral health is essential to a child’s overall health and well-being. These tips will help keep your child’s teeth healthy for many years to come. 

  • Help your child brush twice a day for two minutes each time with a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, which should not be swallowed. Begin flossing once per day when the teeth are close together.
  • Make sure your child has a balanced diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D to increase calcium absorption. These nutrients are necessary for building strong teeth and keeping gums and mouth tissues healthy.
  • Encourage your child to drink water instead of sugary or acidic beverages.
  • Protect your child’s teeth, lips and mouth from injuries by having them wear a mouthguard when playing sports.

Teens

By age 13, most children have a full set of permanent teeth, until wisdom teeth grow in during the latter teen years or early 20’s. Oral hygiene and proper nutrition is important to ward off decay.

  • Continue with regular dental visits to help monitor if the teeth are properly aligned or if the teen has a bad bite. Braces may be necessary to correct crooked teeth.
  • Protect teeth when playing sports by wearing a mouthguard and drink water rather than sugary sports drinks.
  • Talk to your teens about smoking/vaping, smokeless tobacco (chew) and other tobacco products, and the negative effects they have on both their oral and overall health. According to the American Lung Association, people who start using tobacco at an early age are more likely to develop an addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Early education and intervention are key. In addition to numerous negative consequences to overall health, there are significant oral health implications that stem from tobacco use, including teeth discoloration, gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Discuss how other behaviors may impact your teen’s oral health. Eating disorders, drug use or oral piercings can contribute to poor oral health by increasing tooth decay, inflammation and mouth infections.

Adults under 40

From tooth sensitivity to dental health during pregnancy, adult teeth continue to need daily brushing, flossing and trips to the dentist.

  • Maintain good oral health habits and visit the dentist regularly. The dentist can spot oral health issues before they become painful and expensive to treat.
  • Manage your stress. Anxiety caused by jobs, relationships and finances can all affect your oral health and lead to oral concerns like gum disease, sensitive teeth and tooth grinding.
  • Visit the dentist if you become pregnant. Increased hormones can cause pregnancy gingivitis which causes swollen gums and additional plaque build-up on tooth enamel. In addition, gum disease in pregnant women have been linked to pre-term, low-birth-weight babies. A visit to the dentist early in pregnancy can benefit both the mother and baby. Learn more.
  • Avoid drinking excessively and using tobacco. Both heavy alcohol consumption and tobacco have been linked to oral cancer.  Additionally, tobacco use can cause bad breath and gum disease.

Adults over 40

Caring for your overall health is as important as your oral health. Certain diseases such as diabetes and heart disease have a link to the health of your mouth.

  • Continue to visit the dentist and have good oral health habits. During a regular dental exam, the dentist can identify more than 120 health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • If you have diabetes, good oral health can help control blood sugar levels and vice versa. Poorly controlled blood sugar can cause gum disease which can increase oral bacteria. Diabetes reduces your ability to fight bacteria which can cause increased risk of cavities, gum disease, thrush and dry mouth.2
  • Prevent heart disease with good oral health. Untreated tooth decay and gum inflammation increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect heart valves and may lead to heart disease.3
  • Know the risk factors for oral cancer, including tobacco use, heavy alcohol use and the human papilloma virus. Symptoms often are white or red patches on the inside of the mouth and a lump or sore that doesn’t heal.

Adults over 60

Even with a good oral hygiene track record, older adults may experience more cavities and may have missing teeth. Read more.

  • Keep good oral health habits.  Older adults are more susceptible to tooth decay as a side effect of medical conditions or dry mouth.
  • Talk with your dentist if you have dry mouth. This condition results from inadequate saliva due to certain medications or Sjogren’s syndrome. Saliva helps to wash away food and neutralizes acids. Tooth decay can occur when there is little to no saliva. Your dentist can suggest ways to restore moisture.
  • Discuss replacing missing teeth with your dentist.  If you have missing teeth from decay or injury, your dentist may suggest dentures or implants.
  • Eat a healthy diet and be active. Calcium is crucial for strong teeth and bones and can help prevent osteoporosis, especially in women. Regular exercise also helps strengthen bones.
  • Get screened for oral cancer. Older adults are more likely to be diagnosed with oral cancer.  The dentist should screen for oral cancer during a regular exam. If you have any lumps or sores that won’t heal or go away, schedule a visit with your dentist. Early detection is key to beating oral cancer.

Maintaining good oral hygiene along with regular dental visits can help keep your smile healthy throughout your life.

 

1 American Dental Association Mouth Healthy https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-teeth

2  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes/art-20043848

3  https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/heart-disease-prevention/faq-20057986

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