For years, the American Dental Association (ADA) and other organizations have made a concerted effort to educate children about the importance of brushing and flossing properly every day. Their efforts have made an impact, with a drop in the level of pediatric tooth decay in the United States over the past several decades.
Though that’s excellent news, maintaining good oral health is important for everyone, including children. In fact, there are some compelling reasons for family members of all ages to be concerned with dental health.
Here are some examples of maintaining oral health for each member of the family:
Infants and toddlers
"Parents should make a point of gently brushing their baby’s gums even before the teeth break the surface to get them used to the routine..."
Obviously, a newborn baby can’t do much to care for their own gums and future teeth. So, it’s up to parents to take this matter seriously and make sure the baby’s oral health is maintained.
Did you know that tooth decay is a very real problem for babies with their first set of teeth? In fact, because they often fall asleep immediately after eating, infants who have just begun teething are especially prone to cavities in their brand new teeth.
Parents should make a point of gently brushing their baby’s gums even before the teeth break the surface to get them used to the routine and to clean their gums and tongue regularly. Then, as they start teething, pay special attention to the spaces where the gum is still hiding a portion of the tooth, as milk or food particles may get lodged in contact with the surface of the new teeth.
Making brushing a comfortable habit early on will pay off when the child is old enough to take over this responsibility themselves.
Between the ages of 6 and 12, children generally lose all of their baby teeth and replace them with their adult teeth.
This is an especially important time to make sure your child is seeing the dentist regularly. The first adult teeth to come in are generally molars, and how they develop will have an impact on the shape of their jaw, their bite, and other factors that could affect them in the future.
It’s common for kids at this age to either rebel against hygiene habits like brushing their teeth, or to fail to accept their importance among other fun and exciting things they can do. It’s important for parents to make sure brushing and flossing are being done thoroughly every single day.
Tweens and teens
For teens with braces, it's important to pay extra attention to maintaining proper oral health.
These are the years when most kids who need braces are going to get them. Braces create a special situation requiring extra careful oral hygiene. This is because tooth decay becomes even more of a threat, with extra structures in the mouth that can give food and bacteria more places to hide.
Even though it’s common for a child’s social calendar to fill up dramatically at this age, it’s important teens don’t sacrifice their oral health. As they start getting involved in sports, make sure they get a comfortable and effective mouth guard that can protect their teeth in case of an unexpected collision.
Throughout adult life, whether you’re 18 or 58, an ongoing habit of good personal oral hygiene can make a world of difference in your overall health and quality of life.
A routine examination is still extremely important as we age, as it allows the dentist to check for signs of serious health conditions that are more common in older adults than they are in teens or children. Heart disease, diabetes, infections, and other conditions often manifest in the mouth before other symptoms are apparent.
As we age, bone density tends to diminish as well. One of the first places this becomes apparent is in the mouth where once-firm teeth may begin to loosen as a result.
Just like the rest of the body, the mouth, teeth, and gums age and may face complications late in life.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 25% of adults 60 years and older no longer have any natural teeth. The CDC also states that the severity of periodontal (gum) disease increases with age. About 23 percent of 65 to 74-year-olds have severe gum disease.
Many American seniors also deal with some level of diabetes. This disease can have a greater impact on oral health as blood sugar imbalances can increase the chances of gum disease.
Preparing for an emergency dental situation
While it's hopefully a rare occurrence, a dental emergency is always a possibility. If you have family members who are already dealing with chronic dental issues, or who play contact sports, they may be even more prone to accidents and issues coming up unexpectedly.
The most important step in dealing with a dental emergency is to be prepared ahead of time with who to call, where to go, and what to do if and when an unexpected situation arises.
No matter our age or circumstances, every member of the family can benefit from caring for their oral health and seeking the regular help of a qualified dentist. And, of course, obtaining affordable dental care is an important factor for every family to consider.
If financial concerns are holding you back from taking on this responsibility, find out how a discount dental card can help you obtain low cost dental care with savings from 20%-50% on routine cleanings or advanced procedures. The entire family is covered for one low monthly membership fee of less than $10.