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As your body ages and evolves, so does the potential for harm happening to your teeth. Teeth of any age are susceptible to cavities and decay; however, certain stages of life put you more at risk than others.
Read on to learn the most common oral health risks at every age and what you can do to keep your family’s teeth protected.
Oral Health Risks For Babies and Young Children
From the moment a child is born, parents do everything in their power to ensure a child is living a healthy and happy life. Babies and young children are just as likely to develop tooth decay as adults. Being aware of the most common threats to a child’s teeth will enable you to give your toddler’s teeth the best chance to stay cavity-free while their smile develops.
Baby Bottle Decay
Your baby’s bottle may be a symbol of comfort and nurturing, but the bottle may be doing more harm than good after a certain age. While it’s perfectly safe for your baby to use their bottle during the day, falling asleep while drinking milk is harmful to their developing teeth. The remaining milk in the mouth sits on a child’s teeth and causes tooth decay to happen while a child sleeps.
Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking
Crooked teeth can happen due to several unavoidable causes like a child’s genetics. However, many other oral habits lead to a crooked grin that can be easily prevented. For example, if your toddler continues to use a pacifier after the age of four or sucks their thumb as a way of comfort, they’re at risk for changing the alignment of their front teeth. Help your child quit these habits early on to avoid braces down the line.
Transitioning to a sippy cup and away from baby bottles is a milestone moment. Selecting the correct type of sippy cup is just as critical as filling your child’s cup with nutritious liquids that won’t cause early tooth decay. Always encourage your child to consume water over sugary juices, and if they do drink juice, have them rinse their mouth with water afterward.
Proper Oral Hygiene and Care For Young Children
Properly care for your child’s teeth from the very beginning by:
- Scheduling routine dental checkups twice a year for your baby after their first birthday.
- Wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp washcloth as an infant.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water.
- Introduce fluoride-free toothpaste to your child if they are under the age of two.
- Once your child learns to spit appropriately, begin using a fluoride toothpaste as part of your brushing routine
- Avoid sugary snacks and drinks in your child’s diet
Oral Health Risks For Teens
Transitioning into the teenage years comes with various changes to the body, and your child’s oral health is one of them. Teens often place a low priority on maintaining good daily oral hygiene, and contributing factors that lead to an increase in cavities in teens are:
Poor eating habits that contribute to tooth decay include frequent snacking on refined carbohydrates, sugary snacks, and sweetened beverages. Help your teen’s teeth fight back by ensuring your child has proper brushing habits using fluoride toothpaste, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and dental floss.
Undergoing orthodontic treatment is a right of passage for most young teenagers. While braces will help to straighten a crooked smile, they also put a child’s teeth at risk for developing decay. Brackets and wires make it difficult to clean the teeth underneath thoroughly, so we recommend investing in an electric toothbrush and water flosser for anyone undergoing treatment.
Dental Risks For Adults
The most prolonged period of your life is the time you are an adult. You’re at a higher risk of developing oral health problems if you:
Use Tobacco Products
Adults who use tobacco products, either smoking or chewing tobacco, have a higher risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss. Tobacco users are also at high risk of developing cancers of the throat, mouth, tongue, or lips.
Have Poor Oral Hygiene
Not properly brushing for a full two minutes twice a day and flossing can cause tooth decay, which can lead to tooth loss.
Have Poor Genetics
Unfortunately, some oral health problems may be genetic. If you have a close family member that experiences frequent tooth decay or gum issues, the issue may run in your family.
Don’t Prioritize Diet and Nutrition
Not eating a balanced diet full of nutrients can harm your oral health. If your diet consists of processed foods with refined sugars and carbohydrates, you are negatively impacting your oral health.
Helping Your Family Achieve Optimal Oral Health At Any Age
Excellent oral hygiene habits start at the very beginning stages of life and should never fade. If you’re concerned about members of your family and the state of their oral health, ask us for tips on improving your routines at your next appointment with Aubrey Baudean DDS.