The beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start and set new personal and professional goals. While many people focus on self-improvement at this time of year, dental hygienists remind Canadians not to overlook oral health when making choices about improving overall physical and mental wellness.
“Good oral health is essential to total health and the key to a happy and productive life,” says Mary Bertone, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA). Research suggests that periodontal disease, which can result from unchecked plaque on the teeth, is a risk factor for serious life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, lung and heart disease, and stroke. “Resolving to make oral health a priority in your daily life is an investment in your future,” adds Bertone, noting that people of all ages can set oral health goals and develop new habits in 2014. “You are never too young or too old to make a commitment to oral health care.” Here are some helpful dental hygiene tips for all ages:
Infants and Toddlers up to age 3: Wipe your baby’s mouth and gums with a clean, wet cloth after feeding. Teach toddlers to hold a toothbrush, but brush for them twice a day using water (no toothpaste is necessary) once their first teeth appear.
Children ages 3–6: Help your children to brush their teeth twice a day, using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Show them how to brush every tooth surface and their tongue, and make sure that they spit out the toothpaste when they are done.
Children ages 613: Encourage children to begin flossing once a day, in addition to brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Help them to make healthy food choices, avoiding sweets and sugars. Have them fitted for a sports mouthguard to be worn during athletic activity.
Teenagers and Adults: Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash and clean in between the teeth at least once a day. Eliminate tobacco use and eat nutritious foods that are low in sugar. Remember to wear a sports mouthguard during active play.
Seniors: Brush natural teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and clean in between the teeth at least once a day. Clean and soak dentures (full or partial) daily. Brush and massage the gums, either with a soft toothbrush or with a warm, damp cloth.
And of course, everyone from the age of one should visit a dental professional regularly to ensure optimum oral health. By developing good oral health habits now, you’ll look and feel better, not just in 2014 but for a lifetime.
Serving the profession since 1963, CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 26,800 registered dental hygienists working in Canada, directly representing 17,000 individual members including dental hygienists and students. Dental hygiene is the 6th largest registered health profession in Canada with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health. For more information on oral health, visit: www.dentalhygienecanada.ca