On July 3rd, 1806, two years into their journey to chart the unchartered West of America, pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached a challenge of epic proportion – the Rocky Mountains. What next, they wondered? Without a map, they were forced to do what explorers do – explore, and hope for the best. So, that got us thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a handy map you could use to chart your own dental health? With that in mind, and in honor of our “Dog Days of Summer” explorers, here are a few mile markers you can use to stay on top of your oral health today, next year, and for years to come!
18-25 years old
This is a time where work, college, and sometimes marriage start to get in the way of our parental-guided dental care regimens. It’s also a time when we tend to find money for the things we “want” instead of the things we “need.” Given that we’re generally healthy at this time in our lives, there isn’t too much we have to worry about when we visit the dentist. However, here are a few conversations you might want to have with the doctor concerning your oral health when you come in for your periodic cleaning:
- Preventative dentistry: Are your wisdom teeth fully grown or are they just starting to make their way out? Have your doctor provide a prognosis on how they will affect things. Depending on your individual situation, you may benefit from removing them to avoid future orthodontic problems.
- Cosmetic dentistry: Are there imperfections in your smile that you always wanted to correct as a teen? Now that your permanent teeth are fully grown and stable, you may want to talk to your doctor about cosmetic options like veneers, bonding and whitening procedures.
- Injury Prevention: The ADA estimates 200,000 oral injuries per year can be prevented with mouthguards alone. If you’re active in any sort of sport, you owe it to yourself to consider a mouthguard.
26-39 years old
These are the years where decades of wear-and-tear start to catch up with you. They’re also bridge years for having kids, and you’ll feel as though life is pulling you in a million directions. Ignoring the dentist during this timeframe is risky. Here’s how you can stay ahead of the game:
- Cosmetic dentistry: Consult with your dentist about cosmetic services like teeth whitening, veneers, etc. Don’t let the “costmetic” banner scare you off. Something as simple as bonding can help seal-in worn away enamel and spaces between teeth – both which can lead to erosion and cavities.
- Restorative dentistry: If you have an old crown, root canal or filling, you might need to have it tuned-up or replaced. Regular clinical exams paired with annual radiographs help dentists determine if this is a need.
- Start thinking about maintenance: Power toothbrushes, oral irrigators, and xylitol gum are all items that can keep your teeth healthy year after year. Consider investing in a few of them and use them regularly as you move into your forties.
40-65 years old
With maintenance and repair in mind, you’ll want to start to educate yourself on the sort of procedures that will help you keep your healthy teeth, and strengthen or replace those that are weak. Consider:
- A wider array of restorative dentistry: dental implants, crowns, bridges, and even dentures. Ask your dentist for advice as to what’s best for you. Maybe you have perfect teeth and need none of these! Hooray!
- Preventative Dentistry: Oral cancer screenings are performed during hygiene recall appointments. These two-minute exams just might literally save your life.
65+ years old
At this age, you’ll need to consider a multi-disciplined approach to your dental care. Aside from aging teeth, you may also have other health concerns that disrupt your typically healthy mouth. Some things to consider are:
- More vigilant in-office routines: You may need to increase the frequency of your cleaning visits – ask your doctor for their best advice.
- Systemic Health Education: There is a link between oral health and other health factors. Therefore, be sure to keep your dentist in the loop with regard to all medications you’re taking. Particularly keep them informed as to any heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions you may have. Most importantly, because your mouth is the “window” to the rest of your body, your dentist can sometimes discover these conditions in their early stages because of the effects they have on the mouth. Therefore, please don’t neglect your visits at this age!
Staying on top of your oral health isn’t as hard as you think. If you keep this schedule of events to watch out for handy, you’ll be ahead of most of your neighbors when it comes to a healthy mouth and body. Come to think of it … why not share it with them as well? They’ll thank you for the help!
Please do not hesitate to reach out to Adams and Cheek Dentistry with any oral health concerns or questions. You may reach us by calling 919.866.1360 or click here to reach us online.