Stay away from the dentist's chair... a quick guide to dental hygiene for all agesFrom brushing your teeth twice daily to paying a visit to the dentist, no amount of care is enough when it comes to your teeth. A painful tooth will always make you wince. Dr Ashok Dhoble, Hon. Secretary General, Indian Dental Association, tells you all about oral care throughout your life. 1
ORAL CARE FOR YOUR BABY
Taking care of
your baby's teeth is important because these allow him/her to eat a good diet, allow for proper jaw growth, give the face its form and appearance, assist in the formation of proper speech, and most important, act as "space savers" for adult teeth. If baby teeth are damaged or destroyed, they can't help guide permanent teeth into their proper position, resulting in crowded or crooked permanent teeth.
WHAT PARENTS SHOULD KNOW
» There are a number of problems that affect the oral health of children, including tooth decay, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, and early tooth loss. » Breast milk can cause tooth decay as well. As these liquids break down in the mouth into simple sugars and are allowed to sit in the mouth, bacteria start feeding on the sugars, causing tooth decay. » Use a wet cloth to wipe your child's teeth and gums after each feeding. This helps remove any bacteria-forming plaque and excess sugar that have built up on the teeth and gums. 2
ORAL CARE FOR YOUR TOT
Just follow these
simple tips to help your tot get strong teeth and gums
» Teach your child to brush twice a day with accepted fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque - the sticky film on teeth causing tooth decay. » Give your child a peasized amount of toothpaste and make sure he/she doesn't swallow the paste. » Thumb sucking after age four can lead to crooked, crowded teeth and/or bite problems, so make sure this habit is dropped early. » Make sure that your child's drinking water is fluoridated. If your water supply, municipal, well or bottled does not contain fluoride, your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe daily fluoride supplements. » Take your child to the dentist for regular checkups. 3
ORAL CARE FOR TEENAGERS
As a teen, the best
way for you to enjoy a nice smile and healthy teeth, irrespective of wearing braces or other orthodontic treatment is to continue the good oral habits that you started early in childhood.
DENTAL ISSUES FOR TEENAGERS
»ORTHODONTICS: An orthodontic evaluation will determine if you need braces, and what type of treatment is right for you. If a person wears braces, extra care should be taken to properly clean teeth. »SMOKING: If you don't smoke or chew tobacco, don't start. In addition to other health problems, smoking can stain your teeth and gums, stain the tartar build-up on your teeth and contribute to bad breath. »ORAL PIERCING: If you're considering oral piercing let your dentist know; he or she can help you make the safest choices. »EATING DISORDERS: Both bulimia (binge-eating and vomiting) and anorexia (an inordinate fear of gaining weight often resulting in vomiting) are serious disorders that directly affect the appearance of teeth by eroding the tooth enamel. While a dentist can correct the deteriorated tooth enamel, he or she cannot treat the actual eating disorder — a potential lifethreatening condition that requires addressing psychological issues of self-image and self-control. 4
ORAL CARE FOR ADULTS
The key to keeping a
bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood is to practise proper oral hygiene. Even as an adult you can get cavities and gum disease, which can lead to serious problems. The best way out is to continue to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily to remove plaque between your teeth, limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks and visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and checkup.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
»Gum disease begins as gingivitis, which in this early stage is still reversible. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush them. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist before serious problems develop. »The health of your gums can also affect your overall health. Recent studies have shown a possible link between periodontitis (a gum disease) and other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and a possible link to premature births. 5
ORAL CARE FOR SENIORS
Teeth can last a lifetime with proper home care and regular dental checkups. Nevertheless, there can be issues too.
DENTAL ISSUES FOR SENIORS
»Dry mouth is a common condition in seniors, one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Consult your dentist on ways to restore saliva in your mouth. »Existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, can affect your oral health. Be sure to let your dentist know of any general health issues you're facing. »Dentures can make life easier for many seniors, but they require special care. Follow your dentist's instructions carefully in this regard.