There are a lot of good reasons to keep you and your family’s teeth and gums healthy. It’s great seeing your children have great smiles, and the ability to chew food properly for good nutrition, you also want everyone to avoid the pain and discomfort of toothaches. New research has shown that gum disease can lead to other problems within the body including an increased risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep strong adulthood healthy teeth from childhood into adulthood and even into old age.
Start good dental practices in children EARLY! Despite advancements in dental care one in four children today show signs of tooth decay before they even enter school, with half of children aged between 12 and 15 having cavities. From the age of 6 months as your child’s teeth start to appear you should be practising good dental hygiene. This can be a wipe over with a damp coth or very soft brush. From about the age of two start your children on brushing their teeth for themselves – but always supervise!
Avoid troubles. In general permanent molars come in at around the age of six. You can have a thin protective coating applied over the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay in the pits and fissures. Sealants can reduce cavities, so speak to your dentist for more information.
Use just the right amount of toothpaste. The single biggest advancement in oral health has been fluoride. It strengthens tooth enamel which makes it less likely to decay. In Australia, our tap/drinking water contains fluoride and many types of mouthwash and toothpaste also contain fluoride, but it should be used sparingly with young children. Put no more than a pea-sized dab on their toothbrush as too much can end up causing white spots on their teeth.
Brush twice a day and floss once a day. Tooth decay and gum disease are big problems and not just for old people – up to three-quarters of teenagers have bleeding gums
Change your toothbrush 3-4 times a year
Teenagers or those with braces may need to use a special toothbrush or toothpaste along with other oral hygiene tools to keep their teeth clean – talk to your dentist or orthodontist to find out what’s right for your child.
For older people who may be struggling to hold a toothbrush or to use dental floss, they may find it easier to use an electric toothbrush, alternatively, you can add foam or garden hose over the handle of a regular toothbrush to help make the brush easier to hold.
Always rinse your mouth out after meals. In addition to brushing and flossing rinsing your mouth out with an antibacterial rinse can help prevent gum problems and decay. Chewing a sugar-free gum after a meal toothpaste your teeth by increasing the flow of saliva which naturally washes away bacteria and neutralises the acid.
Don’t smoke, tobacco stains teeth and increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease, if you smoke consider quitting and encourage your children not to start.
Eat smart, at any age, a healthy diet is essential for healthy teeth and gums, this well-balanced diet should include nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits – to provide your body with all the nutrients you need.
Stay away from those sugary foods. When bacteria in the mouth breaks down sugars it produces acids that can erode tooth enamel which *opens the door* to tooth decay. Sugary drinks include fruit drinks and soft drinks. These pose a threat as people sip these drinks which raise the acid levels over a long period of time. Sticky sweets are also bad as they stick to the surface of teeth.
Always see your dentist regularly! A dental check-up should be carried out every 6 months, and more often if you have a dental issue such as gum disease. Routine dental exams can also keep an eye out for –
Early signs of cancer. 9 out of 10 cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat.
Wear and tear from tooth grinding – this can be caused by stress or anxiety and as the teeth wear down they are more susceptible to decay.
Signs of gum disease – this is the leading cause of tooth loss in older people and by the time people notice any of the warning signs of gum disease it’s too late to reverse the damage.
Almost all tooth decay and gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene – just a few minutes each day for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.