Establishing good dental hygiene habits should start as soon as the very first baby tooth pops out of a child's gums. Babies' first teeth can be brushed with a soft "baby" toothbrush and water or simply wiped with cotton swabs - at this age they don't need to use toothpaste. As soon as there are two adjacent teeth in the mouth, a nightly flossing ritual needs to be introduced to the dental routine too. Good dental habits are easier to maintain if they are established early, as part of a normal daily routine.
When a child's first permanent molars erupt into the mouth at about 6 years of age, you will want to talk to us about applying a plastic coating, or "sealant" on those back teeth. We simply paint the sealant on the chewing surfaces of the molars to provide a safe and effective barrier to food getting trapped in the grooves of the teeth, which could eventually lead to the formation of cavities. A second application of sealant should be applied at about 12 years, when the second permanent molars arrive.
The teenaged years sometimes bring with them eating disorders, including bulimia (self-induced vomiting). Patients suffering from this disorder will experience erosion on the back of their upper front teeth due to the acid in the vomit, and may also develop sores at the corners of their mouth. Tongue and mouth piercings are popular with the teenage set, but they have their own set of problems, from oral hygiene issues and infections to fractured, cracked or chipped teeth. As the adult years approach, some gender differences start to emerge. While both men and women need to be vigilant with their dental hygiene, studies show that men are less likely to seek preventive dental care and often neglect their oral health until a problem arises. Problems can range from bad breath to gum disease and tooth loss to oral cancer - all problems that are treatable if identified early.
Women's oral health can be linked to different stages of life, and fluctuating levels of hormones. For example, pregnant women have a risk of increased inflammation of the gums because of a surge in estrogen and progesterone. Rigid attention to dental hygiene and regular cleanings at the dentist are a must in order to keep teeth and gums clean, and to prevent plaque from forming, If plaque isn't removed, it may lead to gingivitis and subsequently to more serious periodontal diseases, which have been linked to pre-term, low-weight babies.
Menopause brings its own set of dental concerns. During this time some women can experience dry mouth, burning sensations and changes in taste. Hormone replacement therapy may cause gums to bleed, swell and become red.
As your dental professional, we're here to help you and your family through each life stage. Regular visits and open communication about health or medication changes will allow us to monitor any changes in your oral health, and make each stage as healthy and comfortable as possible.