When should you start caring about your teeth (or the teeth of your children)? The answer is: ASAP. When should you stop caring about the health of your teeth and the rest of your mouth? The answer is, never! Dental care is imperative, no matter how young or old a person may be.
That said, a person’s dental care needs do tend to shift or change slightly as they go through life. Here’s what you can expect from your oral health during different phases of life–and how to take care of it throughout each phase.
Babies typically start to get their teeth a few months after birth and will continue to get new baby teeth for the first few years of life. Although the teeth babies and toddlers have aren’t their permanent teeth, it’s still important to care for them just as you would adult teeth.
Baby teeth can get cavities, which is one of the main reasons you should brush your child’s teeth. It’s also a reason to bring your child to the dentist from an early age. Your baby’s first dental care visit can happen any time between the appearance of that first tooth and the baby’s first birthday. If your child is older than one and hasn’t seen a dentist yet, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit soon.
Starting a toothbrushing and dental visit routine early in life can put your baby on the path to having a healthy mouth throughout the rest of their life.
Once your child hits the age of five or so, the baby teeth will usually start to shed. A child’s permanent or “adult” teeth will replace the primary teeth. Kids will continue to lose baby teeth and develop their permanent teeth until the ages of 12 or 13. Through childhood and the teenage years, it’s important to continue to encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day. You might also introduce them to flossing at this age. Teens and kids should see their dentists regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
One common issue that teens and kids face when it comes to their teeth is misaligned or crooked teeth. Many need orthodontic treatment to straighten the teeth or correct issues with the bite. Correcting problems with the bite or crooked teeth can reduce a teen’s risk for cavities or other issues with the teeth. Although braces can make a teen feel self-conscious, correcting any malocclusion in the teeth will ultimately give their self-esteem a boost when the braces come off.
Some people also start to get their wisdom teeth during this phase, usually in their later teenage years. Depending on the size of a teen’s mouth and the position of their teeth, it might be a good idea to remove the wisdom teeth before they fully erupt.
Once you hit adulthood, you don’t want to neglect your teeth–they’re the only ones you’ll get naturally. Keep on brushing twice a day and flossing daily. See your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. Adults often have more dental care concerns than younger people. You might find yourself at an increased risk for gum disease, due to other health conditions you have. Or, you might notice that the stress of your job causes you to grind or clench your teeth at night.
If you have a history of cavities, there might come a time in your adult life when you need a root canal, which is commonly performed when a cavity is too advanced or deep for filling. Of course, dental problems don’t have to be a part of adulthood. Keeping up with your dental visits can help you stay on top of your dental health, giving you and your dentist a chance to fix small concerns before they become major problems.
You can have healthy teeth later in life. It’s a myth that losing your teeth is an inevitable part of getting older. It is more likely than an older person will be missing a tooth compared to younger people, but proper oral care can help prevent tooth loss.
Dental care later in life depends in large part on the state of your teeth and mouth. It’s important to keep up preventative care, such as brushing and flossing. It’s also a good idea to be aware of conditions or medications that can affect the health of your mouth. For example, some medicines cause dry mouth, which can increase your risk for developing cavities.
If you are missing teeth, you might want to discuss your options for replacing them with a dentist. Dental implants are permanent replacements that look and feel like your natural teeth.
Good dental care is a must for every stage of life. It’s never too early or too late to see a dentist for tips and advice on taking the best possible care of your mouth. Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who can recommend dental care options that work for you and your needs. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.