Preventive dentistry is, of course, meant to ward off numerous dental and oral problems. If done correctly, you may never have a cavity in your life, or have to worry about root canals and missing teeth. Here are some preventive dental measures, from infancy to old age.
Brushing Baby's Gums and Avoiding "Bottle Mouth"
Babies are on a liquid diet of mother's milk or formula until six months of age. Even then, you can take a warm wet washcloth and rub baby's gums after every "meal." Doing so prepares the baby to be more accepting of his/her first toothbrush, which comes when the first tooth erupts. Meanwhile, do not put the baby to bed with a bottle so that your baby does not develop "bottle mouth," a condition whereby the baby's teeth are rotted out before they even break through the gums and become significantly worse after that.
Brushing in Infancy and Toddlerhood
If there are teeth, there should be a toothbrush. Your baby/toddler may not like this at first, but they will gradually adjust to it. It helps if you give him/her a gummy toothbrush with bristles that doubles as a teething toy. Also, be sure to use fluoride-free toothpaste because too much fluoride too early in a baby's/toddler's life can have the reverse of the desired effect on his or her teeth, creating a problem known as "fluorosis."
Begin Teaching Flossing to Preschoolers and Schedule Their First Dental Appointment
At this stage, age three and above, you can begin teaching your preschooler how to floss after or before brushing. Also, now is a good time to take your child to his or her first dental checkup. Usually, the first checkup includes x-rays, and the hygienist counts your child's teeth out loud while visually checking for problems. The dentist might also pretend to count teeth while taking a look, and that is it for the first appointment. Future appointments will be light cleanings for oral and dental health.
Continue Brushing, Avoiding Sugary Things, and Schedule More Dental Visits
All the way up to adolescence, your child should be brushing at least once, if not twice, a day. Sodas, candy, and sugary treats need to be avoided, and more dental visits (two each year) should become a habit. In the early teen years, your dentist might suggest braces if your child's teeth are crowded or overlapping. Braces will also prevent the loss of teeth that may become loose accidentally.
Good Oral Health into Old Age
Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco as well as sweets. Take excellent care of your teeth and gums through regular, daily brushing and flossing. Continue seeing your dentist twice a year until it appears that you might need to start thinking about dentures.
For more information on preventative dentistry, visit a dentist in your area.