For the best results, dental health professionals recommend focusing on the well-being of your teeth and gums from infancy through your senior years. After all, you and your teeth have a long way to go together. It’s never too late, though, to start a regimen that protects your oral health throughout the decades.
Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili excels at treating patients of all ages, from toddlerhood through adulthood, in her busy Fairfax, Virginia, practice. Here, she offers a few tips on what you can do to keep your smile looking its best and at its healthiest as you age.
Starting good habits early
Baby teeth are not permanent fixtures, but they do matter. They act as placeholders for the adult teeth that erupt during childhood. Healthy baby teeth also aid your child in speaking clearly, chewing appropriately, and smiling without pain. Brushing should begin as soon as you see that first pearly white above the gumline. And schedule that first dental visit by age 1.
Children ages 3-6 typically need varying degrees of supervision as they brush, with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Once your child has two teeth that touch, focus on cleaning between teeth.
Schedule routine exams as directed by your dentist. Decay can become a problem during childhood, so routine visits are imperative to catching problems early. You can expect Dr. Yalamanchili to check for crowding and other signs that permanent teeth may not have the room they need to form an aligned smile.
Teens and tooth decay
Tooth decay and early gum disease (gingivitis) are often issues during adolescence. Continue with regular dental exams that may include periodic cleanings and fluoride treatments. Reinforce the need to brush at least twice and floss at least once each day.
Encourage your teen to avoid sugary snacks and beverages and follow a tooth-healthy diet that includes cheese, fresh fruits, and crunchy vegetables. Drinking plenty of water helps keep the mouth hydrated. A dry mouth encourages decay-causing bacteria to grow on teeth. Mouthguards worn during sports can protect your young athlete from painful injuries.
Smiling through your 20s, 30s, and 40s
By the time you near 30, your tooth enamel could be experiencing some wear and tear. Sugary beverages and snacks, and even healthy foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can soften enamel and add to your risk of developing cavities and breakage. Keep up with routine visits to the dentist as well as your daily brushing and flossing.
Be aware of foods and beverages that can stain and darken adult teeth, such as coffee and red wine. And if you have an issue with the color, alignment, or health of your teeth, see Dr. Yalamanchili for recommendations regarding whitening and other procedures that can brighten and straighten your teeth.
Teeth can begin to shift out of alignment in your 40s. You may notice gaps that never existed before. It’s also a good time to have your dentist check old fillings, which generally last 15-20 years. Dr. Yalamanchili provides a wide variety of services that can correct any issues with your smile.
Keeping a healthy smile through your 50s, 60s, and beyond
Dental issues to monitor for after age 50 include receding gums, darkening and yellowed teeth, and chipped and worn teeth. Now is not the time to quit seeing your dentist. Dr. Yalamanchili continues to focus on your oral health and can provide cosmetic fixes, such as veneers, that keep your teeth looking naturally healthy.
For women in this age group, changes in hormones appear to be related to increased incidence of gum disease. Men are susceptible, too. Tender, swollen, and bleeding gums are indicators of a problem that should prompt you to contact your dentist.
Treatment is simple and effective when gum disease is diagnosed early. Oral cancer becomes a greater risk as you age, and Dr. Yalamanchili checks carefully for suspicious lesions during every exam.
For a healthy smile no matter your age, schedule a visit with Dr. Yalamanchili today. Call the office, or book your visit online.