HealthAgenda

Common conditions

Dental health for every life stage

How to look after your teeth, today and in the future. 

Fit&Well magazine
December 2013

Babies and toddlers

Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by age two or three. “Between one and two, most children are ready to start proper brushing morning and night,” says Dr Neil Hewson, Federal President of the Australian Dental Association. “They should use a soft bristled brush with a small head and a pea-sized amount of child’s toothpaste.”

Ask your dentist to check your child’s bite if he or she is a thumb-sucker, as this can push developing teeth out of alignment.

Tweens and teens

Permanent (secondary) teeth appear between six and 13 years of age. “Teach your children how to brush using a circular motion, for two minutes, moving over every tooth surface, but gently, as harsh brushing can strip the tooth enamel,” says Dr Hewson.“

By about 12, they can start flossing.” Ask your dentist for a referral to an orthodontist to make sure any structural issues such as an overbite or crowding, are detected early and dealt with.

In your 20s and 30s

Maintain good dental habits: brush twice a day, floss regularly and minimise intake of sugary and acidic foods such as soft drink, alcohol, packaged fruit juices, processed fast food, chocolate and biscuits.

“Also avoid mouthwash as the high-alcohol content can further dehydrate your mouth and increase the risk of cavities,” says Dr Simon Lew, dentist in charge of the Brookvale, NSW, HCF Dental Centre.”

If you have bleeding gums it could be a sign of gingivitis, which often first appears because we get busier and floss or brush less effectively or often. Swollen gums during pregnancy can also predispose you to gingivitis,” adds Dr Lew.

In your 40s and 50s

Certain medications can lead to a thickening of the tongue surface. Brush your tongue to reduce bacteria build-up. Ask your dentist if you’re showing evidence of grinding, which may occur due to stress. If so, you may benefit from having a splint fitted to wear at night.

Age and some medications can also make the mouth feel dryer, destroying the good bacteria we need to maintain proper oral health. Chewing sugar-free gum can help to increase your saliva flow. Ask your dentist to review existing crowns/fillings to check if these need redoing.

In your 60s and beyond

Ask your dentist about implants for broken or cracked teeth. Titanium is used to fuse the implant to your jawbone and hold them in place.

If you have dentures, make sure they’re brushed once daily and placed in water overnight. Have your dentist check they fit properly and examine them for cracks.

While you’re there, have your mouth and lips examined for signs of oral cancer such as small lumps, mouth bleeding and white or red patches.

More for Teeth

You could get 100% back on a range of diagnostic and preventive services through our More for Teeth program.

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