Don’t ignore your child’s baby teeth. Use a soft washcloth or finger brush to clean them. “You can get cavities even at that age,” says Dr. David Isaacs, a North Wilmington dentist. Cavities can lead to teeth extraction. The child should see a dentist by age 3. Pediatric dentists recommend visits as early as 12 months.
Adult teeth start to cut around age 6. Just like adults, children should visit the dentist twice a year. Dentists may refer the child to an orthodontist between the ages of 7 and 12. Children with braces require a boosted hygiene program, Isaacs says. Wisdom teeth are ideally removed before college.
Teeth-whitening is fine if needed, Isaacs says. “Research has shown it’s not destructive to the tooth surface and doesn’t cause irreparable harm to the nerves.”
Children and teens may undergo fluoride treatments if they’re developing cavities.
Fluoride treatments are also indicated for cavity-prone adults. Certain diseases can up the risk of tooth decay. So can a dry mouth, a more frequent occurrence with older adults.
The chance of receding gums and gum issues also increases as we age, even with proper hygiene and regular visits. People with diabetes are at a greater risk. Cracked teeth are another issue, and root canals may be indicated. “Our teeth have just been in our mouths for longer and they get worn,” Isaacs notes.
Talk to your dentist about a maintenance schedule that suits your situation. You may need to visit three or five times a year, and you may need X-rays more often than every other visit.
In between, Isaacs recommends electric toothbrushes. Waterpik or other dental jets help remove debris.
And, of course, floss.