Correct oral hygiene for all age groups
The body and teeth change through the years and decades. Proper oral hygiene is vital to ensuring that your teeth stay healthy as you get older. Dr. Pink & Dr. Lutzenberger have some tips on good dental hygiene for every age group.
1. Babies: milk teeth also need protection
As soon as the first milk teeth have come through, brushing them should be incorporated into the daily routine. Milk teeth have a different enamel structure to adult teeth, meaning that they are particularly prone to cavities, and plaque must be removed every day. Use a soft toothbrush for children and a pea-sized portion of fluoride-based toothpaste. For tiny babies, a fingertip toothbrush is a good starter from an age of two months and up. This removes plaque and also massages the gums relieving teething pain.
2. Toddlers: proper brushing to protect against cavities
It’s a good idea to tackle brushing in the following order: chewing surfaces, outer surfaces and finally inner surfaces. Cleaning the chewing surfaces is the first priority for toddlers as this is where they are most likely to develop fissure cavities. Fissures are small groves in the chewing surfaces of the molars where bits of food often get left behind. Next the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth are cleaned with a soft toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride. Twice-daily brushing should begin when the child is two years old at the latest. Children should be given the opportunity to try it out themselves and should be playfully encouraged to incorporate brushing into the daily routine. It is incredibly important that parents check that teeth are cleaned properly and brush any missed spots.
3. Adolescents & adults: clean methodically!
In adults the greatest danger of cavity formation lies in the gaps between the teeth rather than on the chewing surfaces. Adults also have a higher risk of periodontitis. For this reason adults should concentrate their cleaning efforts on the edges of the gums and the areas between the teeth, using dental floss or interdental brushes. Clean methodically so that nothing gets left out. Ideally, clean for three minutes before breakfast and in the evening before bedtime.
4. Seniors: healthy teeth in advancing age
As we get older we become more prone to periodontitis and aggressive root canal cavities which are the most common cause of tooth loss. Unfortunately the gums shrink over time meaning the gaps between the teeth get bigger, and exposed tooth necks also cause problems. Teeth should be cleaned more gently using a toothbrush with rounded bristles or using suitable interdental brushes. If you are fitted with dental prostheses (bridges, implants or prosthetics) you may need some extra help. Toothbrushes for prosthetics, sensitive toothpaste for exposed tooth necks, fluoride gel to protect against root cavities or special dental floss to clean bridges and implants are some examples of the options available.
5. Manual or electric toothbrush?
Dentists all agree on one thing: with proper use electric toothbrushes are superior to their manual counterparts. This applies to models with rounded, rotating heads as well as new ultrasonic toothbrushes. It is important to be gentle when using an electric brush. The brush head should only lightly tough the edges of the gums or the chewing surfaces and only for a few seconds per tooth/surface. Do not scrub!
Electric toothbrushes can also provide an additional motivation for children and help them to playfully get used to cleaning their teeth.
6. Brushing teeth: Circular or sweeping movements?
When using an electric toothbrush the following rule should be strictly followed: no scrubbing, no extra movements, just let the brush do the work.
But how about manual toothbrushes? Although circular motions were once advised, today a different approach is recommended. Why? Circular brush movements can cause bacteria and plaque to be pushed into the lining of the gums leading to infection. An elliptical movement is much better for adults. In this way the manual toothbrush is held at an angle against the gum line and plague is swept outwards using smooth sweeping movements. The rule is to always sweep from red to white i.e. from the gums to the tip of the teeth.
7. Ein Muss: Professionelle Zahnreinigung
Regardless of age, professional deep cleaning is a must since even the best brushing technique cannot remove all plaque and discolouration. Dr. Pink and his team recommend that children visit the dentist for the first time when they are around six years old. This lays the foundation for healthy teeth and allows any problems to be spotted early on. And unlike in adult patients, professional deep cleaning is completely covered by statutory health insurance for children between the ages of six and 18 years.