Your Guide to Adult Dental Care
Brushing and flossing: Some dental habits will always be important. You must brush your teeth at least twice per day with fluoridated toothpaste to reduce scaly, tough plaque that love to build up on your teeth and cause cavities and tooth weakness. And don’t rush through a tooth-brushing session. By taking your time, you’ll be more likely to free plaque from your teeth. If you find your gums are getting more sensitive as you age, using a soft-bristled toothbrush can minimize irritation while cleaning your teeth.
“You don’t have to have the fanciest toothbrush or the fanciest whitening toothpaste,” says W. Frank Johnson, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Hixson, Tenn. “Those things are nice, but not essential. However, consistent care is.”
If you’ve skipped flossing in the past, this is the one habit you need to develop during adulthood. Flossing helps keep your gum line clean to prevent periodontal disease, a serious condition that can lead to tooth loss later in life. Start with at least 18 inches of floss and gently angle the floss against the sides of your teeth. Ask your dentist or hygienist for a demonstration if you aren’t sure if you’re flossing properly.
Finding Your Top Dentist
As you progress through adulthood, it’s vital you find a dentist you can trust. This means you must feel comfortable with your dentist and hygienist so you can ask questions and share concerns about your health or any problems you may be experiencing.
“You need to feel like you’re going to see your friend when you go to see your dentist,” says Dr. Johnson.
The other vital part of adult dental care is not waiting until a tooth or gum issue is really bothering you before you seek care. Making an appointment to see your dentist twice a year is vital. Skip out on these regular visits and you miss the cleaning and assessment that can minimize your risk for cavities and other serious teeth issues. If cost is a barrier for you, many universities and clinics offer public dental clinics that allow you to get regular cleanings while minimizing the costs. Because fillings, root canals and other dental procedures can be costly when you do experience a dental issue, you cannot afford to skip on twice-yearly cleanings.
Restoring Tooth Restorations
Tooth restorations such as a filling don’t come with an expiration date, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need replacing occasionally. If you had several fillings as a teenager, your dentist will often re-check the integrity of your fillings to ensure they do not require replacement. Johnson says failing to care for your teeth — all your teeth, including those with fillings — as an adult can allow bacteria to live underneath your filling. This can lead to infection and abscess, which can be especially dangerous to your overall health.
No More Excuses: Don't Neglect Your Dental Health!
From caring for family members to advancing in your career, adulthood comes with its own set of responsibilities and occasional stressors. That’s when the excuses can come for failing to care for your teeth, especially the “I-don’t-have-time” line. When you consider the value of keeping your teeth well into older adulthood and avoiding cavities and root canals, investing the few moments it takes each day to brush and floss your teeth is an investment in your overall health.
“If you follow the basic instructions for keeping your mouth healthy as an adult, you’ll be truly amazed at how healthy your mouth will be,” Johnson says.