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Roadmap to a Healthy Smile: Oral Health Tips for Each Life Stage

roadmap to healthy smile

Consistent oral care and wellness habits are important during every stage of your life. So important, that every year we celebrate World Oral Health Day internationally on March 20. This day marks the largest global awareness campaign on oral health and is meant to spread positive messages about the importance of good oral hygiene around the world.

In recognition of this year’s campaign, Delta Dental offers their expert advice on vital oral health habits and practices for each stage of your life.

Children

If you’re not thinking about oral care in your child’s life, think again. Positive habits start early, and this rings especially true about caring for teeth and gums during formative years. Here are some tips for setting up your child for a lifetime of healthy teeth:

  • Take your child to the dentist. Did you know that children should visit the dentist before their first birthday or when they get their first tooth – whichever comes first? A child’s first trip to the dentist should happen within six months after their first tooth erupts, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
  • Brush your baby’s teeth. Brushing your baby’s teeth starts with caring for their gums, according to the American Dental Association. You can start by wiping gums with a wet washcloth or moistened gauze, and switch to a baby toothbrush once their teeth have completely erupted.
  • Stop cavities before they begin. Children are prone to cavities, not only because of the natural shape of their growing teeth, but because of their eating habits. Constant snacking means that toothbrushing alone may not be doing an adequate job of preventing cavities. Talk to your dentist about sealants and whether they may be the right option for your child’s teeth.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of pacifiers. Although they can provide a source of comfort, it’s important to remember that prolonged use can lead to potential harm for teeth and gums.

Adults

Learning the ins and outs of “adulting” is a different process for everyone, but the health of your pearly whites is essential! This World Oral Health Day, tune in to tips that’ll keep you smiling in your 20s, 30s and for years to come.

  • Don’t trust quick fixes. You’re used to getting things done quickly. However, teeth whitening is one process that shouldn’t be rushed for convenience. Many DIY whitening methods involve the use of unsafe chemicals, unorthodox materials or are just plain dangerous. Be wary of things that seem “too good to be true” when it comes to your precious smile.
  • Be proactive during pregnancy. Growing your family is an exciting time – and it’s an opportune time to check in with your dentist. Aside from coming up with an oral health plan for your pregnancy, your dentist can help you navigate being at higher risk for tooth decay, gum disease (also known as “pregnancy gingivitis”) and oral growths (called “pregnancy tumors”).
  • Make enough time for your oral care routine. Between work, family, passion projects and social lives, many adults are being pulled in a multitude of directions. Don’t let the busyness of life cause you to neglect your oral care routine! Make sure that you’re brushing for at least two full minutes, twice per day and floss daily.

Seniors

Your golden years deserve to be full of memorable experiences, not overdue trips to the dentist. Use these pointers to ensure that your oral care routine ages as gracefully as you do:

  • Pay attention to your overall health. There are major connections between oral wellness and prevalent diseases. Your dentist can often spot the first warning signs of health issues that affect your entire body. Issues like leukemia, heart disease, diabetes and more may all have oral manifestations.
  • Listen to your body. Staying mindful of any aches, pains or discomfort that you feel – and then alerting the appropriate health professional – can save you from financial and physical distress down the line.
  • Keep your gums in tip-top shape. Knowing the warning signs of gum disease means that you can potentially avoid the major cause of about 70 percent of adult tooth loss. The right preventive measures, like healthy eating and staying smoke-free, can ensure that your smile’s next years are its best years.
  • Plan for retirement. Medicare dental coverage is limited, and many people are surprised to find out that this vital health need is no longer covered when they retire. If dental coverage is out of your budget, be certain to work with your dental provider to understand pricing or use your local health department as a resource to find cost-effective options in your area.  

When it comes to oral health, the actions and precautions you take throughout your life will have a long-lasting impact on your journey to dental wellness. For more expert tips and tricks to keeping your oral health on track, head over to Delta Dental’s wellness resource library.

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