“The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” is the way the old saying goes. That only means that it is better to know what is upcoming so that you can prepare for it rather than be surprised by something, and knowing what to expect in regard to your oral health at different times in your life is no different. A little bit of knowledge can help you stay ahead of any potential problems.
Dental Health, Pregnancy, and Babies
At no time in a woman’s life is she more aware of taking good care of herself than when she is pregnant. During this time, she can give her child a good beginning to first-rate oral health by eating well and supplementing her diet with calcium. Folic acid has also been shown to be effective in preventing birth defects, including cleft lip and palate, so that is also a supplement that pregnant women should consider.
After a baby is born, his parents should wipe his gums with a soft, wet cloth after feedings. Like tooth brushing in older children, this helps to prevent bacteria from collecting and building up. At about six months of age, teeth begin to appear, and parents should use a soft toothbrush to clean the teeth and gum line at least twice a day.
As children grow and become independent, it may be tempting to turn tooth brushing duties over to them completely. However, some dentists recommend that parents brush children’s teeth until the children reach about age six. This helps ensure that the children’s teeth are brushed effectively.
Adults’ Dental Health
Although dental care is readily available, studies suggest that about a third of adults in the United States have tooth decay that is untreated. Tooth decay can be treated easily by a dentist. There are also things that adults can do to help treat and prevent tooth decay. One of these is drinking plain tap water. Tap water contains fluoride, and most bottled waters do not.
Adults should monitor their dental health by visiting their dentist every six months and not engaging in habits, like smoking, that increase their risk for dental problems. Some dental problems, like gum disease, have a direct relationship with other diseases. For example, if you have diabetes, you may need to see your dentist more frequently than every six months. Work with your dentist to develop an appropriate care plan to meet your individual needs.
Dental Health and Seniors
One benefit of advances in health care over past decades is that the population is living longer. As a result, we must care for our teeth longer. Just as older adults must maintain a health care regimen with their primary care physician, they must also continue to visit a dentist on a regular basis. As they age, they may have a higher risk of developing cancers that could be detected through routine oral exams, so regular dental appointments are important for seniors.
Some older adults may no longer have their natural teeth, but may be fitted with dentures, and as a result, may believe that they do not need to visit a dentist very often. This is not the case! They should see a dentist to ensure that they are cleaning their dentures correctly and to have the dentist check their gums to verify that the dentures are fitting properly.
Good oral health is important at all stages of life; it is a crucial part of overall good health. Be aware of dental problems that are common during different stages and communicate any issues that you have with your dentist. Above all, consistent appointments with your dentist twice a year is the best approach to maintaining your winning smile.