Many of us don’t realize that our oral health is a window into our overall health. The right oral hygiene habits — such as brushing your teeth and regularly seeing a dental professional — not only help prevent cavities, but can also ward off more serious health problems.
“Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria in the mouth can increase to levels that can cause oral infections, such as gum disease and tooth decay,” explains Irene Iancu, BSc, a Registered Dental Hygienist and clinical educator. “Certain types of oral bacteria are also linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.”
Mediaplanet sat down with her to discuss how to make prevention part of your family’s dental routine before cavities strike.
Mediaplanet: What’s the best way to ensure oral health?
Irene Iancu: Prevention! Plan regular visits to your dental health professi onal and take care of your mouth at home with the right products, technique, and frequency.
At what age should kids have their first visit to the dentist?
The first visit should be when the first baby tooth appears, at around six months. You can discuss your child’s diet, how to properly clean the mouth, and when to start brushing. That first visit also helps familiarize your child with the sights and sounds of a dental office and can help reduce dental anxiety when they’re older.
How often should kids visit the dentist?
For a child without any major issues, the rule of thumb is typically every six months, but it really is patient-specific. I ask parents to bring their child in whenever they have an appointment, and I’ll do a quick check-up and have a conversation about their child’s oral health at the end. It sets a good example for the kids. The Canadian Dental Association’s website is a great resource for parents seeking more information on when their child’s first dental visit should take place.
What questions should parents be asking about their child’s oral health?
Ask if their teeth are coming in on schedule and if they’re growing in the right spots. Also, ask for tips on brushing, and if the dentist or dental hygienist sees any plaque, tartar, or bleeding. Signs of gingivitis can be present as early as the first tooth!
Which oral health products do you recommend for children?
If they’re at low risk of disease or decay, brushing with water or a non-fluoride toothpaste is sufficient. If they’re at a higher risk, the 3M™ Clinpro™ 5000 Anti-Cavity toothpaste is the best way to fight cavities, as it has four times more fluoride than regular toothpaste. For cavity spots, your dentist may suggest applying 3M’s Vanish™ White Varnish. It can be painted on an individual tooth to deliver targeted fluoride during regular dental visits — ask about it at their next check-up!