Our bodies only have one shot in a lifetime of being healthy and our teeth are part of that one shot. The wear and tear that we put on our oral health can give us years of healthy smiles or can lead to extensive treatments, such as the need for a complete set of dentures or dental implants.
Here is a look at how someone should care for their oral health throughout the stages of life:
Dental care should start from the moment someone receives their first tooth as an infant, and since infants cannot brush their own teeth, this stage falls into the parenting category. However, once that little one goes from crawling to jumping, skipping, and running they should have learned the skills to start take care of their oral health on their own. For example, making flossing a part of a daily-dental routine should start around the age of 3 or as soon as a child’s teeth are touching.
This is the stage where teeth are more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease. Brushing and flossing should now be a vital point of the daily routine, but adolescents are not always vigilant about doing so. This stage in life comes with a “nothing can hurt me” attitude, which means there is less concern for the food and beverages that are consumed. An adolescent may spend the night with friends playing video games while they drink sugary drinks and eat sweets, and not giving their oral health a single thought.
This is also the average age when someone may have the need for braces, which makes thorough brushing and flossing during those candy and cola filled nights all the more important. Braces are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and require extra attention and care.
Early adulthood is the time when wisdom teeth start to show their faces, and if you experienced the joys of braces in the adolescent stage, you’ll want them removed before they can cause your teeth to shift and move, making your once perfectly straight smile crooked.
Young adults often believe that if there is no pain there is no problem, which gives them an excuse for not making regular dental visits a part of their routine. For example, cavities usually only hurt when they have become bad enough that they can no longer simply be filled and will require a root canal.
Often young adulthood is when people find the love of their life, get married, and start a family. For women who are pregnant, gum disease becomes a bigger risk, and gum disease has been linked to causing possible problems within the fetus. Dental checkups should be more frequent during pregnancy to make sure there is no chance of complications.
Just like any other part of the body, this is when your teeth start showing their age. Fillings that were received decades ago start to break down, gum disease becomes a greater risk, and oral cancer becomes a concern, especially among those who have a history of smoking. Sores within the mouth that do not go away within two weeks should be looked at by a professional.
Senior (Golden) Years
This is the stage of life where you can yell at the neighbor kids to “get off my lawn, pull up your pants, and get a haircut (ya hippy).” This is the glorious stage of life for retirement, traveling the world, and enjoying time with giggly grandkids. All of those things are incredible, but your teeth see this stage from a different view. Often this stage comes with medication to help improve one’s overall health, but often have a side effect that causes “dry mouth.” Saliva is a natural tooth protector, so having less of it increases the risk of cavities. Sugarless (or sugar substitute xylitol) gum and candies are recommended to stimulate saliva. (This might explain why Grandmas always have candy in their purse)
No matter what your age is, oral health is extremely important for your overall wellbeing Brushing twice a day (at least), flossing once a day (at least), and regular dental visits can help keep your mouth happy and healthy. Contact our office for more information on how your teeth age and what you can do to keep your smile bright and beautiful.