From the moment your baby teeth begin to emerge, your parents start to introduce you to the beginnings of what brushing your teeth is all about. And although as babies we’re not sure why there’s a toothbrush in our mouths, starting this practice early shows the importance of dental care. By definition, dental care is the maintenance of healthy teeth, but some who prefer technicalities would call it oral hygiene, which is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean in order to prevent dental disorders.
Despite the fact that this all sounds very formal, taking care of and brushing your teeth is vital to your overall health. And whether you are a toddler or a senior citizen, you should never push off your oral care responsibilities. If you do, there are many consequences that can be worse than just the cavities you can get from eating too much candy.
In this article, we will look at the importance of dental health.
The Main Tool
Before we look at each stage of life, let’s look at what good dental care actually means. Although many people equate dental care with just brushing your teeth, there are a few more steps to the process. And this can depend on how thorough you are with the process or even how old you are. So let’s start with the basics. When it comes to brushing your teeth, you will need the right tool: the toothbrush. Even though toothbrushes have a pretty straightforward purpose, it’s good to know that you have options.
You need to decide if you would like a manual toothbrush or an electric one. And although research has shown that both are pretty comparable when it comes to getting your teeth clean, it’s all about your preference. Some people really like having full control of the brush and opt for manual. However, you might want to think about the different bristles you can choose from. There are other features that can come with the manual toothbrush, like a tongue scrubber or even extra bristles to take on the gums.
Others will opt for the electric toothbrush. If you love the ease of the30,000 to 40,000 brushstrokes per minute on your pearly whites, then you’ll also need to consider the type of brush head you want. If you want to make the move to electric, we’ve reviewed the best electric toothbrushes on the market today.
The Act of Brushing
Once you’ve chosen your brush, then you’ll need to actually brush your teeth correctly. First, you need to make sure that your brush isn’t covered completely in toothpaste. Most dentists will advise you to only cover a third or half (at most) of the brush with toothpaste. Once you got the right amount of paste on your brush, it’s time to brush your teeth. The key to brushing your teeth is to make sure that the bristles have gone over every inch of every tooth. No matter what motion you prefer—left-to-right, up-and-down or circular motion—the whole point is making sure that you’ve gone over each tooth.
Brushing your teeth during your younger years goes into different stages. When brushing a baby’s teeth, there are a number of things to consider. Since they’re so young, you need to train them to not swallow the toothpaste and also to be able to spit out. First, you want to use toothpaste without fluoride when they’re very young. Swallowing fluoride may upset a baby’s stomach, and too much can cause more issues. So be sure to pick up a baby toothpaste. Then you want to get your child used to a toothbrush by using a finger one as the woman does in the video above.
Once they’re older, you’ll train them how to use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Whether you decide on a manual or electric one, you still need to run through the basics of brushing each tooth. And you need to make sure that they brush for at least two minutes. This is important to get the most out of brushing one’s teeth. If your child isn’t a fan of this activity, then perhaps opting for a toothbrush that plays a two-minute song will help.
By teaching your child about the importance of dental care at an early age, it’ll be easier for them to adapt it to their daily lives once they get older.
When You Hit Your Teens
Once a person hits their teenage years, they’re already going through a number of changes—physically and emotionally—and the last thing they want to stress about is their dental care. But at this age, it’s really important. Usually, things like braces, retainers and other oral devices to make your teeth better are put into play. Then there’s also the issue of bad breath and increased likelihood of getting cavities if they’re not mindful of brushing their teeth.
While many parents will quickly say that their teens don’t listen, making sure you practice what you preach is a good way to get your teens to turn around. Be sure to brush twice a day. Show that you’re regularly flossing, and make regular visits to the dentist. And if they have to go through the ordeal of braces, you might want to share some old high school photos of yourself, if you had to go through the same thing. By showing your teens that this is just a normal part of life, they are more likely to look at it as something they just do as opposed to the worse chore.
By the time we become adults, one would think that we already know the routine of dental care. Unfortunately, this is the time when many people throw those rules out the window. Although many do brush their teeth regularly, people skip the flossing or even worse, don’t visit the dentist for years. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, only 65.7 percent of Americans went to a dentist in 2016. Sure, the percentage showed a majority of Americans paying visits to the dentists’ offices. However, that’s not everyone.
And while we mentioned that babies should avoid fluoride, it’s different with adults. Fluoride is your best friend and will help you take care of plaque buildup. The problem with plaque is that once it hardens into tartar, it can only be removed by a dental hygienist. So make sure to use a toothpaste with fluoride, and continue to floss daily. You will also want to limit sugary or starchy foods as the acids can cause bacteria that attack tooth enamel.
If You’re Pregnant
The importance of dental health is vital when you’re expecting. Not only are you caring for yourself, but you’re also looking after the baby’s future dental health. So it is important for pregnant women to brush twice a day, floss daily and make regular visits to the dentist. If these become part of your everyday routine, then you’re already in a good place before your baby is born.
For some women, morning sickness is part of their early stages of pregnancy. And when you throw up, the acid from your stomach will rise up to your mouth and affect your teeth. Although you can’t avoid those issues, it’s best to rinse out your mouth with fluoride mouthwash to keep the amount of acid your mouth in check. Some pregnant women can also suffer from dry mouth, which puts them at risk for tooth decay and infections. By drinking lots of water and chewing sugarless gum, you can help curb dry mouth.
And finally, pregnant women can also experience pregnancy gingivitis. With the increased production for hormones, this can cause your gums to become swollen, sore and sometimes bleed more easily. This also makes it easier for plaque to build up. If not taken care of, plaque causes gum disease. This is why it’s very important to keep flossing every day and make sure you pay your dentist a visit, especially if your gums are becoming an issue.
Once You Become a Senior
And finally, let’s look at how to take care of our teeth when we hit our senior years. Depending on how you’ve been going about your dental care throughout your life, the overall health of your teeth can be at various stages. For some, there has already been tooth loss, with dentures in their place. Or maybe you’ve been experiencing things like dry mouth or permanently stained teeth.
There’s also the chance that there’s root decay, where the gums recede, showing more of the tooth. Regardless of where you are with your dental health at that age, the routine is still the same. Make sure to brush your teeth daily, and if you have dentures, make sure to keep them clean, too. Floss every day, and keep up with your visits to the dentist.
After looking through a human being’s different life stages, it’s safe to say that there are some consistent practices that we need that will help keep our teeth in good shape. So always remember—brush, floss and see the dentist every six months!