Walt Disney once said, “A kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” Needless to say, this was a metaphor. No one wants to experience an actual kick in the teeth … not just because it’s painful, but also because, well, everyone likes having nice teeth! Right about now you may be thinking, “Well, duh!” However, have you ever thought about how likely it is that someday you may lose teeth due to improper dental care? A healthy dental care routine often is all that’s necessary to ensure that your teeth remain with you for the rest of your life. But keeping your teeth may be only half the story. Recent studies have shown a potential link between poor oral hygiene and risk factors for developing certain medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The fact is that poor dental hygiene is the main reason that people throughout the country can experience tooth decay, tooth loss, and even loss of the bone structures surrounding the teeth. Here are some tips on optimal dental care routines for everyone in your family.
Parents should start their little ones on the road to a healthy oral hygiene routine even before they can see that first tiny baby tooth popping up. Start by using a clean, moistened piece of gauze and dabbing a touch of lukewarm water on it. You’ll use this to gently wipe your baby’s gums after feeding time in order to remove bacteria. It’s also a good way to begin showing your baby how to care for his teeth on a regular basis. As your baby’s first tooth begins to emerge, this is when you can start brushing. Try using a toothbrush made especially for babies, as these have very soft bristles that won’t hurt. Add a little lukewarm water so as not to shock your baby’s mouth, and then add a small bit of toothpaste. Again, toothpaste made especially for babies is a good idea, as these do not have fluoride. It’s important to perform these steps with your baby at least twice a day in order to get him into the habit of twice-daily brushing. When he is able to hold the toothbrush himself, that’s when you can begin having him care for his own teeth with your supervision, typically until about age five.
Once your child reaches the age when she can brush for herself, you can leave her on her own for her twice-daily oral hygiene routine. Today’s toothbrush and toothpaste aisles are loaded with tons of great fluoride toothpaste flavors that appeal to kids’ taste, as well as all manner of buzzing, spinning, and whirring toothbrushes that give kids more reason to brush as often as they should. Don’t be afraid to allow your child to make her own choices when it comes to toothbrushes and toothpastes. At this age, kids should be brushing at least twice a day, and this is also a good time to start them on a daily flossing routine. Try them out on floss sticks, as these often are simpler to use than floss. There are plenty of easy-to-use floss sticks on the market today that offer soft floss that glides easily and comfortably in between teeth. But don’t stop there, because a good oral hygiene routine also needs to include a healthy diet, especially for kids who are still growing as their teeth and surrounding bone structures need sufficient nutrients for proper growth and strength. Additionally, it’s important to limit starchy and sweet foods, as well as sugary beverages, candies, and gums. Try to get your kids on a regimen that includes crunchy raw vegetables in their diets that help to clean their teeth. Lunchtime is a great time to include these, even if you have to add in a little dressing for dipping. Finally, and quite possibly the most important step in a child’s healthy routine dental care, is regular twice-yearly visits to your family dentist.
For adult teeth, it’s a given … a twice-daily routine of brushing and at least once-daily flossing, followed up by gargling with an antiseptic mouthwash to kills bacteria. And, it’s just as important for adults to maintain a healthy diet as it is for their kids. A poor diet that includes starchy, processed foods, too many sugary drinks and desserts, excessive alcohol consumption, and/or smoking or use of other tobacco products – this is a recipe for dental disaster for any adult. Limit your intake of sweets; consider smoking cessation; limit your alcohol intake to one per day; and just like with your kids, eat raw vegetables that crunch in your teeth and help to clean particles from between them, as well as bacteria from on them. And, by all means, when scheduling those twice-yearly visits to your family dentist in Summit for your kids, include yourself in the appointment. Adults need regular dental visits every bit as much as children do.
You don’t have to be kicked in the teeth to lose your teeth. A poor dental hygiene routine is often all that’s necessary to experience tooth loss. The good news is that in most cases all it takes to maintain healthy teeth and gums for your entire life is a few minutes a day to follow a healthy dental care routine. This routine can help you enjoy your natural teeth until you’re a hundred. For more information on proper dental care for every stage of life, contact a family dentist in your neighborhood to schedule an appointment.