Protect your oral health through life.
A healthy mouth is important at all ages. A healthy mouth free of oral diseases can be maintained by making smart choices when it comes to oral hygiene, diet and other lifestyle habits.
Practice good oral hygiene habits
Good oral care is essential for a healthy mouth and body. Good oral hygiene habits learned at a young age will help achieve optimal oral health throughout life.
Suggestions for good oral care:
- Brush for two minutes twice a day, using either a manual or electric toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
- Instead of rinsing with water straight after brushing, spit out any excess toothpaste instead.
- Replace toothbrush with a new one every three months.
- Floss at least once a day after brushing.
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum with xylitol after meals and snacks.
- When brushing isn't possible, clean between teeth using floss or other interdental cleaners for additional benefits.
- Wear a mouth guard when engaging in contact sports.
- Have regular dental check-ups to detect and treat early signs of oral disease.
Special considerations during pregnancy
The nine months before your baby is born will be a busy time, but it’s important to keep your oral health in mind. During pregnancy, women experience hormonal changes that can affect their gums (causing swelling or tenderness), making them more prone to gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into more serious gum disease which may be associated with an increased risk for preterm and low birthweight infants.
Make time to practice good oral hygiene to keep your mouth healthy throughout pregnancy.
Prevention tips for infants and toddlers
As a parent, you know that good oral health habits begin early. Tooth decay can start as soon as the first tooth appears in your child’s mouth. FDI recommends that you take your child to the dentist after the first tooth comes in and no later than his or her first birthday.
Recommendations for good oral health habits at home:
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- Place only formula, milk or breastmilk in bottles.
- Refrain from adding any form of sugar to the milk in the bottle.
- Babies should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed. Avoid letting babies sleep with a feeding bottle in their mouths.
- Do not dip your baby’s pacifier in sugar or honey.
- When the first tooth starts coming in, start to clean your baby’s teeth before bedtime.
- Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday.
- If your children are under three-years old, smear a small amount of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) on their toothbrushes.
- If children are between three and six years old, smear a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrushes.
- Stop using pacifiers after your child turns two-and-a-half.
- Discourage thumb-sucking.
- Establish good eating habits from an early age, limiting the amount and frequency of sugary snacks.
Oral health conditions as you age
As you get older, you may be more likely to develop certain oral health conditions. Seniors are often at an increased risk of tooth loss, gum disease, oral cancer, as well as difficulties with dentures and poor nutrition.
A dry mouth can also be an issue as you age. Causes may include tobacco and alcohol use as well as certain medications. Dry mouth can have a significant impact on quality of life and may affect how comfortably you can eat, speak, swallow, chew and smile.
To relieve symptoms of dry mouth, you may try:
- chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free hard candies to stimulate salivary flow;
- drinking water with meals to help chew and swallow food;
- using alcohol-free mouth rinse;
- avoiding carbonated drinks (like soda), caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol;
- using a lip balm to soothe cracked or dry lips.
Prevention tips at all ages
Avoid risk factors
- Reduce acid attacks on tooth enamel by consuming less sugar
- Limit dental plaque by adopting good oral hygiene habits at home – brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day after mealtimes.
- Drink less alcohol.
- If you use tobacco, WHO has developed resources to help you quit.
Visit the dentist regularly
With regular visits to the dentist, signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral conditions can be noticed early and treated. More advanced cases may require specialized care.