Teeth are the hardest part of the human body – even harder than bones. Despite the fact that tooth enamel is stronger than steel, it doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. In fact, the fact that teeth are so strong is actually counterproductive for good dental healthcare. One of the most common dental care mistakes is to assume that everything’s OK with your teeth – after all, how can something so strong wear down?
Teeth are also hard in another way – that is, sometimes hard to manage and care for during the aging process. For example, dental care needs are drastically different when comparing toddlers to teens, or adolescents to adults. A 12-year old’s dental care needs are much different than someone who is 82. Even within age groups, one young adult could have polar opposite oral care needs. Diet, lifestyle, family dental history – they all play a factor in determining what you should be doing to maintain the healthiest teeth and gums possible.
“Dental Care” also Means Proper Gum Care
One of the most common misconceptions about dental care is that it only involves your teeth. But your gums play a vital role in overall oral health – and if you don’t take care of them, it really doesn’t matter how well you treat your teeth. Gum disease (technical term: periodontitis) afflicts roughly half of all U.S. adults – and of those cases, nearly 10% are considered severe. Left untreated, gum disease can accelerate tooth loss, contribute to other health problems, and cause cavities.
Bottom line: don’t forget about your gums – they’re often overlooked when dental care is discussed, but don’t let your teeth get all the attention. Ignore your gums, and you’ll soon develop oral health issues you definitely can’t ignore!
Good Dental Healthcare Habits for Everyone
No matter how young or how old you are, there are some dental healthcare habits and practices that are always a good idea. The following three habits will help ensure healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.
- Brush at least twice per day. It only takes about 2-3 minutes of your time – but the simple act of brushing your teeth two times every day reduces the chances of gingivitis, cavities, bad breath, and a host of other dental problems. If you’re able to squeeze in a 3rd session (after lunch), more power to you!
- Floss on a regular basis. Try to floss at least once every day. If you enjoy sweets and have sticky, sugary treats (such as toffee or hard candy) every now and then, it wouldn’t hurt to floss twice per day. Much like brushing your teeth, flossing takes only a few minutes. But this small time investment can pay big dividends down the road, in the form of robust teeth and gums – and that’s something everyone should aim for as they age.
- Visit your dentist. Even those with ultra-disciplined dental care regimens (and those people are few and far between) can benefit from a yearly visit to the dentist office. If you haven’t been in the dental chair for a while, you should schedule an appointment – even if you think everything’s OK. Periodontitis, cavities, gingivitis, and other dental healthcare problems can quickly surface, with little advance warning.
Aside from common sense dental healthcare habits like these, your dental care needs will vary as you get older. Let’s take a look at the unique dental care requirements through five different age groups.
Dental Care Changes Through the Years
Here are some specific dental care practices to be aware of, throughout all the major stages of life:
Babies aren’t born with teeth, but they still require a different type of dental care. At approximately three months old, it’s a good idea to gently wash an infant’s gums with a damp washcloth. Do this after feedings, and also before bedtime. Keeping a baby’s gums clean and healthy will decrease the risk of infections when teeth start to come in.
Problem area: First teeth. Once the first tooth appears, you should brush with a fluoride toothpaste and use a brush with extra-soft bristles. Eventually, they’ll be able to brush their teeth on their own – but for the first year or so, adult supervision is recommended.
For kids aged 2-12, it’s important to continue the healthy habits developed at the infant stage. Nearly half of all U.S. children have at least one cavity, and the average child has up to two decayed teeth. Those statistics might be hard to believe, but consider all the sweets and sugary drinks that kids consume. This avalanche of sugar is the biggest problem facing children with their dental care.
Problem area: Diet. Aside from regular brushing and flossing, keeping tabs on your child’s diet is a great idea. Watch out for excessive sugar, and make sure they’re visiting the dentist at least twice every year.
- Teen Years & Young Adulthood
The teen years, including young adulthood, is an important phase for dental care. Adult supervision is minimal, so a whole new set of challenges – dietary choices, tobacco use, undisciplined brushing and flossing habits – pose potential problem spots.
Problem area: Wisdom teeth. Around the ages between 17-21, the “third molars” finally appear. But many people simply don’t have enough room in their mouth to accommodate these molars, also called wisdom teeth. Regular dental visits can help determine whether wisdom teeth should be removed.
Adults are usually the responsible ones – right? You wouldn’t know it based on oral healthcare habits. According to one study, more than one third of U.S. adults frequently go at least two days without brushing or flossing. Dental care for adults requires a certain amount of discipline. With busy schedules and extended work hours, that can be a challenge, but the payoff – healthy teeth and gums heading into retirement – is simply too valuable to skip regular brushing & flossing.
Problem area: Health problems related to poor dental care. From diabetes to heart disease, a large group of disorders have been associated with unhealthy teeth and gums. Most of these problems develop during adulthood – which gives every adult an incentive to practice good oral healthcare habits.
- Senior Citizens
The so-called “golden years” are that golden for many senior citizens. A study from the Academy of General Dentistry found that one quarter of people aged between 65 and 74 suffer from severe gum disease. Plus, many older adults are less likely to visit their dentist, simply because they’re less active than younger people. A strong support system from kids and grandkids can help encourage senior citizens to keep up on their dental care.
Problem area: Osteoporosis. This degenerative condition contributes to bone loss, which can negatively impact a senior citizen’s teeth. The American Dental Association recommends at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day to prevent or delay osteoporosis.
Dr. Dental – Affordable, Family-Friendly Care for Patients of All Ages!
Dr. Dental is a go-to source for effective, affordable dental care all throughout the New England region. We have dozens of dental clinics in four different states – New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts. From kids to senior citizens, we offer a full range of dental services, including cleanings, oral hygiene, dentures, fillings, root canals, and more.
We also offer plenty of dental deals and discounts, including a new patient cleaning special. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, or are looking for a better brand of dental care for you and your family, schedule an appointment today!