Keeping Your Family’s Teeth Healthy for Life: Tips from the Experts

dr-alyOral health is something that should be a concern of every family out there. After all, nothing is more precious than being able to see each family member’s vibrant smile. Of course, a healthy set of teeth and gums is crucial to enjoy and enable proper chewing of food. These 5 easy steps, when done with proper care and attention, should be enough to keep your family’s oral health in excellent condition always.

1. Instill proper oral care habits early on in your children.
Did you know that tooth decay is the most common disease around the world right now? And perhaps this is not at all surprising. Notice that no matter how strongly advocated proper oral care is, yet there are a great number of children who already suffer from tooth decay before they even start school. In Canada alone, at least 5 in 10 children with ages from 12 and 15 suffer from tooth decay.

Needless to say, oral care starts in childhood. As soon as baby’s first tooth comes out, which on the average is around six months of age, tooth cleaning should already commence. Of course, at this early developmental stage, it’s not advisable to brush the young child’s tooth yet. During this phase, gently wiping the tooth with clean damp cloth should be enough.

And as soon as the child turns two years of age, start training him or her for tooth-brushing. Of course, be sure to monitor and supervise your child. Doing so will ensure that the proper brushing strokes are taught and accidental ingestion of toothpaste is avoided.

2. Opt for dental sealants for your kids.
Dental sealants, just like its name suggests, are a special kind of protective covering which are applied onto the surface of the teeth to minimize the possibilities of decay. Now, dental sealants are intended for protection of still completely intact teeth and are crucial especially for guarding children’s teeth from caries. So once your child’s permanent teeth come out, usually starting around the age of 6, have each tooth coated with dental sealants.

3. Ensure appropriate fluoride intake.
Fluoride has long been identified as integral for maintaining optimum oral health. Fluoride is responsible for strengthening the enamel, the thin mineralized lining that coats the surface of the teeth and that protect the latter from decay. It’s worth mentioning though that fluoride isn’t normally present in bottled water, particularly the distilled varieties. Furthermore, residential water filtration systems typically filter fluoride out. So if you think you may not be getting the required dose of this crucial mineral, it would be better to talk with your dentist. More often than not, supplements such as specific toothpastes containing enough doses of fluoride will be prescribed.

4. Uphold proper teeth cleaning habits.
Brushing and flossing teeth, when done judiciously, can be effective in eliminating gum diseases. Bear in mind that gum diseases can cause teeth to fall out. When followed properly, these proper oral care measures should help ensure healthy gums and gleaming teeth:
• Brush and floss about half an hour after every meal. Brushing at once could lead to enamel erosion. Bear in mind that this mineralized coating is in a softer state because of presence of more acids during and a little after eating. So it’s crucial to first allow the caustic elements to neutralize so that you don’t inadvertently scrub the enamel away.
• Opt for soft bristled toothbrushes every time. And make sure to replace the toothbrush every three months. Doing so will make sure the brush you use has the best possible set of bristles. And more importantly, periodic replacement will guarantee that bacteria growth in the bristles will be kept at a minimum.
• Family members with braces may have to be provided with special teeth and other oral cleaning implements. To ensure that you get the right kind, talk to your orthodontist.
• Senior members of the family may have a hard time brushing their teeth. If such is the case, consider providing them with electric toothbrushes. Using an ergonomically designed toothbrush handle may also be a good idea.

5. Rinse properly and encourage natural saliva production.
Gargle antibacterial rinse especially if it’s not immediately practical to brush your teeth after a meal. And whenever you can, chew gum as well. Gum chewing encourages release of saliva, the body’s natural neutralizer and remover of acid and bacteria. Of course, don’t choose just about any kind of chewing gum, but opt for the unsweetened brands sold in the market instead.

-Dr.Aly Kanani
Certified Specialist in Orthodontics