Quick question: what’s the most important part of your oral health?
Answer: it depends on a bunch of factors. And one of the most important is your current age.
Your gums and teeth are much different at eight years old than when you’re twenty-seven. Likewise, your oral health care requirements will change when you go from middle ages into your golden years.
The Timeline of Dental Care
While your particular oral health care needs change as you get older, there are a few tried-and-true care practices we highly recommend:
- Regular brushing. Try to brush at least twice per day – if you can sneak in the occasional brushing during lunch time (particularly after a sugary meal), then you’re already ahead of the game, regardless of your current age.
- Nothing prevents plaque and tartar buildup quite like flossing. And best of all, it’s a quick and easy way to ensure your teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible, from childhood to adulthood.
- Visit your dentist. Aside from regular cleanings, your dentist can provide the service and care (see Dr. Dental’s complete line of services here) your teeth need to remain healthy and cavity-free.
Do those three things, and you’re well on your way to enjoying superior oral health well into adulthood. But there are certain oral health issues to be aware of, based on your age.
Children. Around two years old, children can receive regular brushings. Before that, a gum massage will help growing teeth. Most children don’t start brushing on their own until around 6-7 years of age, but parents can promote good oral health habits with incentives for brushing and flossing, such as stickers, extra allowance money and even some candy (just as long as you don’t overdo it with sweet snacks). Improving the alignment of their teeth using braces for kids will also help them get a brighter smile when they grow up.
Adults. Adulthood is a time when we’re supposed to be responsible – for everything, including our own oral care. But many adults don’t get the memo; according to a recent study, more than a quarter of U.S. adults have untreated tooth decay, and nine in ten adults have at least one cavity. Gingivitis (a common gum disease) is also prevalent during this stage of life, and of course there are many external influences (tobacco, poor diet, etc.) to be wary of. Adults are encouraged to visit their dentist at least 2-3 times per year, and keep a disciplined brushing and flossing schedule.
Elderly. The so-called “golden years” aren’t so golden when it comes to teeth. Osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to weaken among the elderly, can negatively impact tooth health. Plus, gum disease is common among older citizens, afflicting nearly 25% of U.S. seniors between the ages of 65 to 75. Along with regular brushing and flossing, senior citizens should see their dentist on a regular basis.