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Tips for a healthy smile at any age

Published On: Oct 24 2011 02:18:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 25 2013 02:02:46 PM CDT
Braces on teeth

(NewsUSA) - You've probably heard that a healthy smile makes a great first impression, but good looks aren't the only reason to take care of your pearly whites.

Numerous studies have linked poor oral health with serious health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. It doesn't matter whether you're two or 102 -- a good oral health regime will have a positive effect on your health.

What constitutes quality oral health care changes with age. The Missouri Dental Association (MDA) offers the following tips for ensuring a healthy smile at any age:

Early Childhood

* The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend scheduling a child's first dentist visit around the first birthday.

* Start cleaning your baby's mouth early. Once the child is able to spit, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Children should be supervised until they can write in cursive.

* Don't share spoons or blow on your baby's food. You can pass harmful bacteria from your mouth to your baby's.

Kids And Teens

* It's okay to give kids treats once in awhile, but try to stay away from sugary drinks, which bathe the teeth in sugar with every swallow, and sticky foods that cling to teeth. Have children drink water to rinse out their mouths after they eat sweets.

* Have kids wear mouth guards to prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face and jaw.

Adults

* Talk to your dentist before using a teeth whitening product to ensure safety and effectiveness.

* Limit tobacco use. Smoking or chewing are more likely to cause serious oral diseases, including periodontitis and cancer.

Older Adults

* Don't let arthritis prevent good oral hygiene. Use a power toothbrush and pre-threaded flossers.

* If you experience dry mouth, talk to your dentist. Lower saliva production has been linked to a higher risk of tooth decay.

For more information, visit www.YourMouthIsTalking.org.