Taking good care of your mouth and teeth throughout your whole life can help prevent problems as you get older. Taking care of your teeth means brushing and flossing every day and seeing the dentist regularly.
Infants and children
The first set of teeth is already almost completely formed at birth. At first these teeth are "hiding" under the gums. These teeth are important, because after they come in, they let your baby chew food, make a nice smile and talk well. You baby's first set of teeth also holds the space where permanent teeth will eventually be. They help permanent teeth grow in straight.
You can care for your baby's teeth by following these suggestions:
1) Clean the new teeth every day. When the teeth first come in, clean them by rubbing them gently with a clean wet washcloth. When the teeth are bigger, use a child's toothbrush.
2) Children under 2 years of age shouldn't use toothpaste. Instead, use water to brush your child's teeth.
3) Don't let your baby go to sleep with a bottle. This can leave milk or juice sitting on the teeth and cause cavities that are known as "baby-bottle tooth decay.'
4) Encourage older children to eat low-sugar snacks, such as fruits, cheese and vegetables. Avoid giving your child sticky, chewy candy.
5) Teach your children how to brush their teeth and the importance of keeping their teeth clean.
6) Take your children to the dentist regularly. The American Dental Association recommends that children see their dentist starting at 1 year of age.
Always ask your dentist if you're not sure how your nutrition (diet) may affect your oral health. Conditions such as tooth loss, root canal pain or joint dysfunction can impair chewing and are often found in elderly people, those on restrictive diets and those who are undergoing medical treatment. People experiencing these problems may be too isolated or weakened to eat nutritionally balanced meals at a time when it is particularly critical. Talk to your dental health professional about what you can do for yourself or someone you know in these circumstances. Poor nutrition affects the entire immune system, thereby increasing susceptibility to many disorders.
People with lowered immune systems have been shown to be at higher risk for periodontal disease. Additionally, research shows a link between oral health and systemic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So eating a variety of foods as part of a well-balanced diet may not only improve your dental health, but increasing fiber and vitamin intake may also reduce the risk of other diseases
Remember, early detection and treatment of problems with your gums, teeth and mouth can help ensure a lifetime of good oral health.