6 Important Life Stages of Dental Health
My youngest daughter just turned one *insert sad sigh here* and she only has 3 teeth. Her first one came around 8 months of age, on the later side of normal (anytime around 6-9 months baby teeth can emerge) and that means it’s off to the dentist we go! The thought of the first dental visit is daunting, but they say an infant should see a dentist within their first year. So, here I am getting ready to take the plunge and bring my tiniest human to the dentist because…it’s not that bad and it’s extremely important. Dental health is directly related to your internal health and well being. There are a lot of things to consider about dental health beyond brushing (twice a day, every day!) and it changes slightly with each life stage. Here are 6 life stages of dental health and tips to help keep those pearly whites…healthy through all of them!
Stage 1 – Infants
When your baby is first born one of the last things you likely think about is dental care. However, it should begin right away – okay, after the chaos of returning home with a brand new baby settles and you’ve semi-returned from baby brain fog. Adding dental care into your bedtime routine is the best way to start and maintain good dental hygiene. When your baby is tiny and doesn’t have any teeth yet, begin by using a clean damp washcloth to wipe the gums. You may continue to use a washcloth until you and your baby are comfortable moving onto a toothbrush or finger brush. By brushing after meals and getting your baby to see your dentist before their first birthday, you’re already off to a great start!
Stage 2 – Children
Now that you’ve set up a dental hygiene routine that works, your child shouldn’t resist daily brushing and flossing…right? (ha-ha). Flossing is recommended as soon as your child’s teeth are touching, brushing twice daily with a pea sized amount of paste (be sure to check with your child’s dentist about an appropriate choice of toothpaste) and keeping your child’s diet balanced are important aspects of oral health for children. Other things to keep in mind are twice yearly dental check-ups and limiting sugary foods and fluids. Remember – children can get cavities just like adults do! Be sure your child watches you brush and floss your teeth, they love to learn, and we all know how they love to mimic what we do!!
Stage 3 – Teens
Teenagers bring a bunch of new challenges, and I’m only talking dental care here. With oral piercings, tooth jewels (yes that is a thing), smoking and junk food on the list, dental care takes on a new dimension. There may also be orthodontics and wisdom teeth to contend with. Educating your teen that dental health stretches beyond brushing and flossing is important. I don’t have the pleasure of having a teenager in the house yet, but I’m already thinking of things that might be useful…like telling my girls they only have ONE set of adult teeth! I may also have a variety of dental care products scattered around the house too, that way they are easily accessible. Being a teenager is not easy, and it very well could be the hardest stage on our mouths.
Stage 4 – Adults
Regular trips to the dentist are probably one of the best presents you can give your teeth as an adult. Avoiding sugary foods *sigh, being an adult can be boring*, brushing at least twice a day, using mouthwash and flossing will help keep your mouth happy and healthy (when flossing, be sure to get right to the back as you should “floss the ones you want to keep”). It also goes a long way in preventing tooth decay and dental disease, none of which we want or need!
Stage 5 – Adults over 60
Adults over 60 should pay particular attention to preventing cavities and gum disease as research has shown a connection between dental health and overall physical health. When getting older, we are confronted with new challenges, such as arthritis or medication that make it difficult to brush and may require a change in our dental routine. Perhaps an electric toothbrush will help or pre-threaded floss. Whatever the case may be, know that questions are always welcome at your dentist’s office, so be sure to ask away!
Stage 6 – Pregnancy
Dental care might be one of the last things on your mind while pregnant, but it should not be forgotten. Many factors can affect your oral health and not just the cravings for sweet or salty! Hormones, for example, can put you at a higher risk for gum disease and gingivitis. Not to mention the dreaded morning sickness can damage your teeth as if it weren’t bad enough already. Seeing a dentist at least once during your pregnancy is important for both you and baby. So get to the dentist and once your sweet baby is born…come back to this post and begin the story again, because you may need a tip or two in those first few years.
I hope seeing these stages will give you a better look at how our dental health changes slightly at each age. If you haven’t been to your dentist in the past 6 months, give them a call, you won’t be sorry you did. Don’t have a dentist? Visit the Ontario Dental Association and find one today. Now, I have to stop procrastinating and get my baby to the dentist!! To see some tips on taking your child to the dentist for the first time check out 6 Tips to prepare your child for their first visit to the dentist.
Disclaimer: Although this post has been generously sponsored by The Ontario Dental Association, the opinions and language are my own.