Dental hygiene is important, from the moment our first baby teeth appear, all the way through our golden years…and beyond. However, as we grow and evolve through life’s many stages, so too do our dentistry needs. The oral care we needed as children is much different than the care we need as adults or seniors, which is why it’s important to evaluate your dentist at each new stage of life to ensure they embody the skillset you need at that specific time.
Here is how your oral hygiene needs may change as you age:
Just because your baby hasn’t begun teething doesn’t mean that oral health isn’t important. You should always clean your infant’s gums after they feed! As your baby’s teeth begin to emerge, you can use a soft bristled toothbrush (without toothpaste) to gently clean their teeth. Remember to schedule their first dentist appointment about 6-months after their first tooth comes in, and continue to bring them in to see a pediatric dentist for regular cleanings. Your dentist will ensure their teeth are developing properly, and, by making dentistry a priority, you’ll teach your children that oral health is a key component of overall health!
It’s important to remember that dental decay is a transmissible disease, so you should avoid sharing utensils or testing the temperature of their bottle by using your mouth.
If your dentist determines that your child may need braces or orthodontic care, they can likely refer you to an orthodontist in the area. Typically, an orthodontist will want to perform an initial evaluation around age 7.
Dentistry for Adolescents
By the time your child turns 13, they will likely have a full set of adult teeth. The highest rate of cavity formation occurs during adolescence, and teenagers are at greater risk for developing gum disease than they were as young children. For these reasons, it’s important to keep up with regular dental cleanings.
A unique dental consideration for adolescents is the potential for sports injuries requiring emergency dentistry services. Choosing a dentist who offers emergency dentistry services can help provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your child’s smile will be protected…no matter what.
Finally, towards the end of adolescence and into early adulthood, your child may need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. This comes with its own set of risks, which your dentist will explain when the time comes.
Dental Hygiene for Adults Under 40
Of course, adults need to visit their dentist for regular cleanings to prevent the onset of gingivitis or periodontitis. These gum diseases can have health implications that impact the entire body. However, beyond the ongoing need for dental care, adults face several other challenges that could impact their oral health:
- Teeth grinding: as our lives get more stressful, many adults begin unknowingly grinding their teeth at night. Your dentist can help fit you with a custom night guard, if this is the case.
- TMJ disorders: symptoms include clicking or popping in the jaw, pain in the jaw joints and around the ears, and headaches.
- Tooth sensitivity: if hot or cold beverages or foods cause you to wince, you’re likely suffering from heightened tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend a new toothpaste, or alternative dental services.
During this stage of life, many people choose to invest in teeth whitening services, noting that their teeth are beginning to yellow and dull as the years go by.
Dentistry While Pregnant or Breastfeeding
It’s more important than ever to maintain healthy dental habits while pregnant. Oral disease, after all, could impact the health of your unborn child. Pregnancy hormones can also leave you more vulnerable to gum disease.
A major concern for many pregnant women is morning sickness. Most women assume they should brush their teeth immediately after vomiting, but this is not the case. Vomit contains stomach acids that can eat away at your enamel. It’s best to rinse with a diluted mixture of water and mouthwash, or just water alone, and then brush your teeth about 30-minutes later. This will prevent the acid from damaging your teeth!
Dentistry for Adults 40-60
In addition to the dental concerns of adults under the age of 40, those creeping up into their 50s may also struggle with missing teeth, dry mouth, and oropharyngeal cancer, which could impact the lips, gums, cheek lining, tongue, or palate. Your dentist can help you replace missing teeth through the use of dental implants or partial dentures, and can help keep an eye on changes to your oral health that may signal the onset of a more serious condition.
Dentistry for Seniors
Tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss continue to be concerns for seniors, however, the medications that many seniors are prescribed can begin to take a toll on oral health, oftentimes leading to the development of thrush. Furthermore, as we advance in age, we begin to lose our sense of smell and taste, which can inhibit our ability to identify when our oral health is “off.” Visiting a dentist regularly can help keep aging teeth healthy.
For those seniors who are dealing with heightened tooth decay or tooth loss, a dentist can help determine whether dentures are a good next step.
At Temple Family Dentistry, we offer general and emergency dentistry services to children, teens, adults and seniors in the Temple, PA area. Dr. Dan DeRosa is one of the most trusted dentists in the area, and his team of dental hygienists are ready to care for you and your family through the ages. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer, or request an appointment online.