In a previous article, we discussed a few oral health tips for infants, children, and adolescents as the first part of this short series on fostering good oral health at every age. Now, we tread on to the second half: caring for your teeth during the later phases of your life, including adulthood, pregnancy, and maturity.
Avoid foods and drinks that stain.
Most adults will say they can’t function properly without having a few cups of coffee every day. As empowering as it might feel to have that coffee coursing through your veins, it also risks discoloring your teeth. Coffee and tea can stain your enamel and may even erode it over time.
For good oral health, avoid drinking coffee or tea whenever possible. But if you just can’t manage without the pick-me-up, try not to take too long drinking it, and down it in one glug to minimize your teeth’s exposure to its components.
Observe proper oral health practices at work.
Your busy work schedule might have you zipping and zooming through the office without any time to spare, but that doesn’t mean you can toss your oral health out the window. Any food or drink that you might leave sitting on your teeth can spark the start of decay, so make time to brush at the office.
If you can’t step into the washroom to brush, then opt for other ways to clean your teeth. Gargle mouthwash, dry brush at your workstation, chew on naturally sweetened gum, or simply drink lots of water. All of these methods help to keep your teeth clean on the go.
Focus on complete oral health.
Aside from your standard brushing and flossing, it pays to add a few other aspects to your oral health routine. Cleaning your tongue can clear away bacteria and help manage foul odors. Massaging your gums can improve circulation and vitamin distribution, preventing periodontal disease. Ask your dentist about what else you can do to achieve a complete oral health routine at home.
Be extra careful with your gums.
The swell of hormones during pregnancy can cause a variety of changes in your body, including the status of your gums. Gingivitis is very common during pregnancy, as your gums become inflamed because of the change in hormonal balance.
Be extra careful with your gums when you brush to avoid any irritation. Use a soft-bristle brush, and try to be gentle with your technique. Make sure you visit your dentist regularly for professional cleaning to make sure you don’t develop periodontal disease.
Protecting Against Morning Sickness
Women who develop morning sickness as the result of pregnancy are more likely to experience tooth erosion. That’s because the acids in vomit are strong enough to degrade the enamel, especially if left to sit on the surfaces of your teeth.
But don’t be too quick to brush your teeth after you vomit. While it might feel refreshing to brush, the friction could actually speed up the effects of the acid on your teeth. So wait a few minutes before you start brushing. To get rid of the residue on your teeth, opt for gargling some baking soda mixed with water.
Don’t boycott your dentist.
A lot of people think that having any sort of dental work done during their pregnancy can be dangerous to the health of their baby, but that’s not actually true. Women in their second trimester of pregnancy may actually be fit to receive almost every dental treatment available, which gives them a window of opportunity to address oral health concerns, even when there’s a bun in the oven.
Continue seeing your dentist during your pregnancy to find out how you can better care for your teeth during this delicate period. Inform your dentist of your pregnancy as soon as you find out, so you can properly plan an oral care schedule for any treatments and services you were planning to get.
Be mindful of any changes in your mouth.
If you were successful in caring for your teeth all those years and in good oral health, then you might not have to worry too much about losing them too soon. But of course, teeth can’t last forever, and you might expect some changes as you start to progress into your later years.
If you notice any new sensitivity, loose or unstable teeth, pain, dryness in your mouth, or any other changes concerning your oral health, then it might be time to visit your dentist. These later years can be tricky for your teeth, so involving your oral care specialist can help you figure out what to do to maintain optimal dental health.
Know your options.
If you do find that there’s a need to replace certain teeth, it pays to know your options. Certain replacements that sit on your teeth, like bridges and dentures, can be inexpensive, but they also risk bone density loss. Your teeth anchor down on your jawbone and maintain its shape. When there isn’t anything anchoring your bone after your teeth fall out, your face can sag and lose its structure.
Choices like implants can help maintain bone density. This is because they require the surgical application of implants that bind with your jaw to mimic the way real teeth work. They can look deceivingly real, and they’re easier to maintain, albeit a little heavier on the pocket.
Treat replacements like real teeth.
Whatever you end up choosing, make sure to treat your replacements like you would your actual teeth. Ask your dentist how to care for your chosen dental replacement option, and observe proper care practices to ensure good oral health. Continue to brush any remaining teeth and clean exposed gum surfaces with a soft-bristle toothbrush. For removable dentures and bridges, be sure to clean them thoroughly and clear away any food debris to eliminate built-up bacteria.