Dental care and personal oral health and hygiene are extremely important throughout every stage of life. The way you care for and treat your teeth and gums will have an impact on your life now and into the future. Ideally, children are taught from infancy to properly care for their teeth. It is best to begin training and educating early in life. However, there is still no time like the present to grab hold of your oral hygiene and start making a difference on your quality of life.
Healthy Teeth and Gums Equals a Lifetime of Smiles
It is important to establish proper oral hygiene habits as early in life as possible. Healthy oral hygiene habits include:
- Brushing your teeth properly at least two times a day
- Flossing your teeth at least 1 time per day
- Visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Eating a well-balanced diet that is low in sugar
Every bit as important as beginning proper oral hygiene is maintaining the ritual of caring for your teeth and gums throughout your lifetime. Here is a timeline progression for how proper oral hygiene develops from infancy to adulthood.
Infancy to Two Years Old
Most infants begin teething by 6 months of age. If you have little children, you know that teething is not often a pleasurable experience. Signs of teething include: gnawing, drooling, bighting, sucking, and even light fever. Usually, the first teeth to appear are the two bottom middle teeth with the top four middle teeth coming in soon after.
It is recommended that your infant’s first trip to the dentist come as early as the first tooth appearing but no later than their first birthday. There are dentists, who specialize in pediatric dentistry. It is likely your child’s pediatrician will refer you to a pediatric dentist to handle your infant’s oral hygiene needs.
1 to 3 Years Old
Children should begin brushing their teeth (most likely with your help) as early as their first tooth. Use a toothbrush designed for children in their age group. Depending on the fluoride levels in your water supply, using toothpaste is not critical until about age 3. Ask your dentist, when your child should begin using toothpaste in your local area.
Flossing may begin as early as your child has 2 or more teeth that touch each other. Normally, by the time a child is 3 years old, they have a full set of 20 “baby teeth”. By 3 years old, your child should be brushing two times per day and flossing 1 time per day.
4 to 10 Years Old
Visits from the tooth fairy will signify that your child is losing his or her baby teeth. It is common for children to begin losing their baby teeth around the age of 5 or 6. The baby teeth are soon replaced by adult teeth (called permanent teeth). It is still important that your child brush and floss regularly throughout the process of losing their baby teeth and gaining their permanent teeth. Teeth and gums need to remain healthy. Do not forget to include regular visits to the pediatric dentist for check-ups as well.
10 to 16 Years Old
Between 10 and 12 years old children typically will lose their molars and grow in their permanent ones. Age 13 is typically considered the age by which a child will have all of his or her permanent teeth. The majority of people do not have perfectly straight teeth or bite lines. Most children in their pre-teen or teenage years will require orthodontic corrections to their teeth and/or jaw. Braces are used to straighten teeth and correct over or under bites.
17 to 21 Years Old
Some people will grow in wisdom teeth (or third molars) in their later teen years and early twenties. Typically, people do not have enough room in their mouth for a third set of molars. It is common for people to have their wisdom teeth removed to avoid complications in the future. Consult with your dentist to know, if you need your (or your child’s) wisdom teeth removed.
Teeth and gums care and overall oral hygiene is important for a healthy life and great smile. Start young with proper brushing and flossing practices. Maintain those proper oral health habits throughout your life. Visit the dentist regularly. This is the recipe for a lifetime of oral health.