Dental Health Tips for over 50s
There is no truth in the rumour that tooth loss is an inevitable part of ageing. The majority of people now turn 50 with many, if not all, of their own teeth. Modern dentistry provides many effective ways to repair and replace your teeth and restore your appearance. Today, treatment concentrates on prevention of dental disease. This means that you can keep your teeth for life, and they no longer need to have large unsightly fillings.
- It is most important to visit your dentist at recommended intervals which suit your dental condition and age, to screen for dental disease and more serious diseases of the mouth.
- Tell your dentist about any general health problems and any medication you are taking as this may affect your dental health and treatment.
- Nowadays, dental decay is often a problem for the mature adult. To prevent decay of the necks of the teeth near your gums, pay strict attention to toothbrushing (at least twice a day, especially after meals) and use dental floss between the teeth to remove plaque which causes gum disease.
- In addition to using a fluoride toothpaste, your dentist may be able to recommend a special toothpaste for sensitive areas of your teeth.
- A healthy, balanced diet with avoidance of sweet food and drink between meals is important to prevent the need for dental fillings or tooth loss.
- Often, you will need advice from your dentist about dry mouth. If your mouth gets dry, lemon rind, an olive pit or a small object held in the mouth may stimulate saliva. Sugarless chewing gum may also do this but do not suck lollies. If dry mouth persists, see your dentist.
- Never place an aspirin or other painkiller against a sore tooth as this will burn the gum. These preparations are meant to be swallowed for pain relief. If in pain, see your dentist immediately.
- A smear of petroleum jelly or similar preparation should be used if you experience persistently cracked lips. Apply a sunblock for outdoor activities.
- If you have full dentures, clean your mouth and dentures thoroughly each day and have both checked by your dentist every few years.
Dental Health Tips for adults
- Today’s dentistry tries to avoid dental fillings by preventing dental disease before it goes too far. It is important to ask your dentist how often you need a check-up to avoid costly and more complex treatment.
- To prevent gum disease, which can often lead to loss of teeth, it is important to use a small, soft toothbrush (and a non-harmful technique of brushing), together with daily use of dental floss.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day (after meals) and use a fluoride toothpaste. This fights the decay process and helps the enamel to resist acid attack.
- It is not too late for you to have orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth and correct the way they bite together. Ask your dentist’s opinion whether any treatment is necessary and/or what can be achieved.
- Watch your diet and limit your intake of sweet food and drinks to mealtimes only, when you can follow up with toothbrushing to remove plaque and prevent acid attack.
Dental Health Tips for teens
- This is the ideal age for your dentist to check if the position of your teeth is correct and if treatment is necessary to create a more attractive appearance.
- Always use a fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Fluoride strengthens resistance to decay and encourages repair of the enamel damaged by the acid attack of the decay process.
- Use dental floss daily to remove harmful plaque from between your teeth. Regular brushing with a soft brush and flossing will prevent gum disease, which can lead to loss of teeth.
- To protect you against sporting injuries, have your dentist make you a custom-made mouthguard. These are much more effective and comfortable than mouthguards off-the-shelf.
- Ask your dentist how often you need a check-up. Measures to prevent dental disease include the application of fluoride and/or the sealing of small pits in the enamel which are likely spots for decay.
Dental Health Tips for primary schoolers
- Supervise tooth brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals, and teach your children to use dental floss as they get older. Good oral hygiene at an early age will reduce the likelihood of dental disease and set up good oral hygiene habits for life.
- Avoid between meal snacks of sweets, sugary foods and sweetened drinks as they cause tooth decay. Be aware of what your children eat and drink at school.
- Have your dentist make your children mouthguards for sporting activities. A custom-made mouthguard fits better and is much more comfortable than one off-the-shelf, so your children are more likely to want to wear it. You can even have mouthguards made in their favourite colours.
- If your child’s teeth become damaged in any way, take the child to your dentist immediately. If a tooth is knocked out:
- If it is clean, place it straight back in its socket.
- If it is dirty, wash it in milk — if milk is not available, use water but only for a few seconds.
- Do not scrub the root surface and try not to touch the root.
- Having removed any debris, now try to replace the tooth in its socket.
- If you can’t replace it, wrap the tooth in plastic wrap or store it in milk. Most importantly, get your child to a dentist immediately, with the tooth.
- Take your children for regular check-ups. To prevent decay, your dentist can apply fluoride solutions and/or seal small pits in the enamel which are prone to decay.
- Remember, at this age, teeth are often crooked. Ask your dentist if any corrective treatment is needed.
Dental Health Tips for pre schoolers
- You should brush your children’s teeth and encourage them to learn how to brush correctly, using a small pea-sized quantity of low strength fluoride toothpaste.
- Most importantly, avoid sweet snacks and sweet drinks between meals. The possibility of tooth decay is directly related to the number of times sweet things are in contact with the teeth.
- Seek your dentist’s advice without delay if your children’s teeth become damaged — whether loosened or just chipped.
- If a baby tooth is dislodged, do not attempt to straighten or replace it. Take the child to your dentist straight away.
- Nowadays, dentists concentrate on preventing dental disease. Ask your dentist how frequently your children need a check-up so that problems can be detected early enough to allow the dentist to prevent them without the need for fillings.
Dental Health Tips for babies and toddlers
- To soothe the irritation of teething, give your baby a teething ring to chew on.
- Don’t give sweetened drinks from the bottle as they can cause decay. Establish regular bottle feeds and, if your baby needs a drink between feeds, use cooled boiled water.
- After feeding, to prevent tooth decay, wipe your baby’s teeth with a moist cloth. At about eight months, start your infant drinking from a cup as this reduces the time that decay-producing sugars are in contact with the teeth.
- Introduce your infant to tooth cleaning as soon as the teeth appear. As infants are unable to control swallowing, a small smear of low strength fluoride toothpaste (or no toothpaste at all) should be used.
- At about eighteen months, take your child to the family dentist for a check-up to become accustomed to regular dental visits.
Dental Health Tips for pregnancy
- Tell your dentist you are pregnant as it may affect the type of care necessary for you.
- Sometimes, hormonal changes can contribute to inflammation of the gums if your oral hygiene is not good. Go and see your dentist if your gums are swollen or bleed when you clean your teeth.
- Familiarise yourself with the dental care your dentist advises for your new baby. Ask your dentist for advice.
- Smoking during pregnancy can lead to health problems for the baby.
- Keep up regular toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste and use dental floss daily.
- Watch your diet and avoid sweet between meal snacks as they lead to acid attack which causes tooth decay.
Smoking and your dental health
Smoking not only damages your general health but also causes problems in your mouth.
- Smoking can lead to cancer of the mouth which is often fatal. The most common sites are the tongue and the floor of the mouth.
- Smoking can also lead to gum disease. It leads to increased calculus (tartar) on the teeth, which harbours plaque. Swollen and inflamed gums are followed by serious destruction of the tissues around the teeth, which can result in tooth loss.
- Smoking can delay healing of any injured tissues in the mouth, such as ulcers.
- Smoking produces unsightly stains on the teeth, some of which are extremely difficult to remove —even with special equipment.
- Smoking during pregnancy can lead to health problems for the baby.
Fluoride and your dental health
Most major Australian cities have had fluoridated water for 20 to 30 years. Brisbane has only had fluoridated water since 2009. One of the most beneficial discoveries in recent years is that fluoride encourages the enamel of the tooth to repair itself, providing the decay process has not gone too far.
- In the first 10 years after its introduction in Australia, fluoridated water has resulted in decay rates dropping up to 60 per cent.
- Approximately two out of every three Australians now drink fluoridated water.
- 30 years ago:
- The average teenager had 18 teeth either needing fillings, already filled, or extracted due to decay.
- Two out of every three older adults had lost all their teeth and wore dentures.
- Many 16 year-olds had to have all their teeth out due to decay.
- Today, tooth extraction due to decay is a rarity and most teenagers have only four or five teeth filled or affected by decay (many with no decay at all) and the damage is often slight.
- Due to fluoride, today’s young people may never need a filling.
How does fluoride prevent decay?
- It interferes with the bacteria in plaque which break down sweet foods and starches to form acids which attack the teeth.
- It alters the structure of tooth enamel to make it more resistant to acid attack.
- It helps to regenerate and repair enamel which has started to decay.
- Ask your dentist if you need fluoride solution applied to prevent decay starting. This concentrated fluoride stops the early stages of decay getting worse.
- The first signs of tooth decay are white areas appearing, often on the neck of the tooth and between the teeth. Ask your dentist to check these areas and advise you how to prevent cavities developing.
- Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, especially after meals, is most important in preventing dental decay.
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