As a top Lakewood, CO family dentistry, we always talk about how oral health is a family affair. Of course everyone needs to keep up with their own routines, but a family can lean on one another to ensure everyone’s oral health is in tip top shape. We can also teach our children proper brushing and flossing techniques and ensure the elderly people in our life are keeping up with these routines in later life. A family is a strong unit, and with this in mind, let’s take a look at how a family can keep up with their oral health together.
Just as in other parts of a child’s life, oral health is all about setting a proper example. If you as an adult aren’t brushing and flossing regularly, you can almost bet your children will pick up on that. The best thing you can do for a child is get them into a brushing and flossing routine early. As a family, this starts with brushing together. It is vitally important to supervise your children in the early years of brushing. Use only a pea size amount of toothpaste, and show them how to brush all surfaces of their teeth, front and back. Don’t forget to brush the tongue either! As for flossing, you’ll want to wait until age 4 or 5 to begin flossing, and you’ll want to handle the task itself until they are 8 or 9, and then you can teach them how to do it themselves. The biggest tip for flossing is to create the “C” shape and gently drag out from the gum line to really remove any plaque buildup.
As we talk about children’s dental health, fluoride is extremely important. In fact, this is a key time to treat a child’s teeth with fluoride as it can really strengthen them for years to come. Use an ADA approved child’s fluoride toothpaste, and you can even add a children’s fluoride mouthwash once they are old enough not to swallow the mouthwash.
Diet is also really important for children just as it is for the rest of the family. Of course avoiding sugar is a big part of preventing cavities in children. At the same time, eating too many starchy foods can be problematic as well since it encourages the growth of plaque which can lead to tartar buildup. If these foods are eaten, it’s best to include them with a meal where you can also eat vegetables to help these foods from sticking to the teeth. Remember rinsing with water is everyone’s best friend when it comes to avoiding plaque buildup. Show your children how rinsing with water or milk at dinner can be fun and help prevent cavities. Oh and these tips go for adults as well!
Whether or not your oral health habits were solid as a child, now you have no excuse. Bushing twice daily and flossing is extremely important to ensure you have healthy teeth long into your life. If you tend to slack on flossing daily, reinforce the habit by flossing with your children. As we said, a family really can lean on one another to keep these habits strong. A couple things to note about using the same bathroom with other family members. First, everyone should use their own brush. It’s best that brushes don’t touch in the jar as well, and you may need to change how you store brushes to accommodate this. Everyone may have their different toothpaste needs as well. Your children should use their own toothpaste, and a husband and wife may need different toothpastes as well. If you have questions on what is best for you, be sure to ask your dentist.
Seniors have their own distinct set of oral health needs, and far too often they are not addressed as well as they should be. Seniors have to deal with darkening teeth, potential tooth loss, dry mouth, and gum disease. It can also be challenging for some elderly patients to get to the dentist regularly due to transportation issues and reduced mobility. Even so, making those regular checkups can help avoid more severe problems, which can be painful and costly. Once again, it’s up to the family to lean on one another to keep everyone’s oral health in tip top shape.
A big issue for seniors comes in dry mouth. As we age, our saliva glands tend to produce less, and worse yet, the use of many medications can increase the condition. Since saliva is key to keeping our teeth protected and healthy, it is important to discuss any potential dry mouth conditions with your dentist. A plan can be formed to help reduce dry mouth by improving hydration habits and changing medications if possible. They may even be able to prescribe an artificial saliva to help with the condition.
Gum disease prevention is important at all ages, but seniors are particularly vulnerable to this condition. It is signaled by red, swollen, and bleeding gums, and if left untreated, it can even lead to tooth loss. As our gums age, they can also recede, making us more vulnerable to this condition. The best way to prevent it is with regular cleanings and routine brushing and flossing. Ensuring seniors continue with regular checkups can help prevent any gum disease from progressing too far as well.
We’ve missed one very important detail about oral health tips for Colorado families - go to the dentist regularly! Often times a family may even be able to schedule appointments at the same time to save an extra trip. Don’t forget, children need to go to the dentist early in their life. You should take them when they’re less than a year old so the dentist can check to see if there are any development issues that need to be addressed. Adults should keep up with their 6 month checkups, and the same goes for elderly patients. It’s really important to keep up with the dentist no matter your age. Keep your family’s teeth strong and healthy by selecting a quality Lakewood, Colorado dentist. Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry can take care of your entire family, from children to adults to seniors. Contact us today to schedule your next family checkup.