Let’s talk teeth. You might know the basics of brushing and flossing, but how can you be sure you’re getting proper dental treatment? This article will break down dental treatments from pediatrics to adult dental treatments and orthodontics. There are some changes you can make to your at-home routine as well as conversations you should have with your dentist.

Getting Proper Dental Treatment
Jonathan Borba
@jonathanborba

The Basics

Proper dental treatment starts at home. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and use a mouthwash. This simple routine keeps your mouth healthy in between dental appointments. You should visit the dentist twice a year for cleaning and other preventative care.

At Home

Brushing

Brush your teeth for 2 minutes at a time. Ideally, you should brush once in the morning before breakfast, and once in the evening before bed. You don’t want to brush right after you eat or drink something acidic like citrus juice or carbonated beverages.

Use a toothpaste with fluoride and a toothbrush with soft bristles. An electric toothbrush can be more effective than manual brushing if you have arthritis or another health condition that makes brushing difficult. You should replace your toothbrush at least every three months to prevent the buildup of toothpaste residue and bacteria.

Flossing

Floss gently between your teeth using a back and forth motion. If you struggle to use floss, you can consider a pre-threaded flosser, a dental pick, or even a water pick. Try to avoid using toothpicks or other sharp objects that can injure your gums and let in bacteria.

Mouthwash

Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. Mouthwash is helpful for making sure your whole mouth is clean, including your tongue.

At Regular Dental Appointments

Your regular dental appointments should be scheduled every 6 months. Your dentist should clean your teeth, examine your teeth and gums, and take x-rays. They can recommend changes to your at-home routine, prevent further problems, and treat any symptoms that are bothering you.

Early Treatment

There are some signs you should look out for between regular dental appointments. Getting treatment early can help you avoid serious conditions like gum disease. You should contact your dentist to schedule an appointment if you notice any signs or symptoms such as:

• Red, swollen, or tender gums

• Gums that bleed when you brush or floss

‎ • Gums pulling away from your teeth

‎ • Permanent (adult) teeth that are loose

• Teeth that are very sensitive to temperature

• Ongoing bad breath

• An unusual taste in your mouth

• Pain with chewing

• Any changes to your bite (the way your teeth fit together)

Get in touch with your dentist right away if you notice one or more of these symptoms. Early detection and treatment will help ensure you have good oral health for your lifetime.

If you are concerned about the cost of dental care, look for supplemental insurance or a dental school near you. Dental schools may have reduced-cost clinics for their students to gain experience. You can see a list of schools and other reduced-cost clinics here.

The Best Pediatric Care

Preventative dental care is important even before your child’s permanent teeth have come in. Let’s dive into some of the most important ways you can take care of your child’s oral health.

First Dental Appointment

You should make an appointment for your child to see the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth. In the event your child has not had a tooth erupt by the time they are one year old, you should schedule a dental appointment anyway.

The first visit to the dentist will be short and simple. The main goal is to develop a relationship and give you some basic guidelines for dental care. The dentist will check your child’s teeth for alignment and look for any signs of gum or jaw problems.

Ongoing Pediatric Care

At-Home Pediatric Care

Your child should follow the same at-home oral hygiene routine as you. They should brush twice a day and floss daily. If your child plays sports, you should discuss getting a mouthguard with your dentist. This will protect your child’s teeth, lips, and gums.

Regular Dental Visits

After the first visit, you should take your child to the dentist every six months. If there are signs of a developing problem, your dentist may schedule more frequent visits. Just because the teeth are not permanent does not mean they are unimportant.

Primary teeth help your child develop tongue and lip muscles so they can speak, smile, and chew properly. Primary teeth also act as placeholders for permanent teeth. Early damage can result in misaligned permanent teeth.

Pediatric Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are not necessary until the age of two or three when the back teeth have erupted. Permanent teeth can come in as early as age six. Once they do, your child should have x-rays at least once a year. Regular x-rays help your dentist make sure your child’s teeth are properly aligned.

Orthodontics

Children and adults can benefit from orthodontic care. Orthodontists take care of problems like improper jaw alignment and crowded or crooked teeth. Some people benefit from a preventative orthodontist visit to prevent more complex procedures later.

Pediatric Orthodontic Care

Many dental conditions are easier to treat if they are identified early. There are some signs and symptoms to look for that indicate your child might need orthodontic care. These include:

• Early loss of permanent teeth

• Crowded teeth

• Gaps between the front teeth

• Difficulty chewing

• Cheek biting or thumb sucking

• Over or underbite

• Clenching or grinding the teeth

If orthodontic treatment is started early, the care provider can use minimally invasive methods to change the course of their oral development. If a problem is left untreated, it may take longer or require a more complicated solution.

Adult Orthodontic Care

The same orthodontic issues that affect children can last into adulthood, or go untreated until an adult visits a dentist. Ongoing misalignment can lead to serious damage to a person’s teeth, gums, or jaw. In addition to the listed symptoms, an adult may experience:

• Headaches

‎ • Jaw pain

• Trouble chewing, speaking, or biting

• Difficulty cleaning their teeth

• Irregular wearing of the tooth enamel

Orthodontic surgery is more common in adults than children because their jaws are no longer growing. This makes it more difficult to realign the teeth. However, this shouldn’t prevent you from taking care of your oral health.