Dental care for life
Dental care and needs are very different for each age group and life stage. The needs of an adult or elderly person are of course not the same for a pre-schooler on their first visits to the dentist. We've put together a list of what you can expect when you visit your dentist depending on your life stage from babies and pre-schoolers through to teenagers and senior citizens.
Babies and pre-schoolers
The first couple of visits to a dentist are generally all about making a child comfortable and getting them used to the dentist and having someone look in their mouth. You would expect the dentist to:
- do a gentle introduction to looking after your teeth
- a mouth and jaw check to look for any issues
- after several visits fix any damaged teeth with as little discomfort as possible
- provide advice and devices for any habits that need to be broken such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusts.
School age to mid teenagers
As children are replacing their baby teeth with their adult teeth it is important for them to regularly visit their dentist to make sure they are looking after their teeth correctly and to check teeth and jaw development. Dentists will:
- check jaw growth, breathing and swallowing patterns, teeth crowding and decay
- fix any damaged teeth
- fit age appropriate mouth guards if the child is playing any contact sports
- use x-rays to find any developing problems early.
Late teens to mid thirties
During teen and young adult years dental care is often about fixing problems and previous damage for health and aesthetic reasons. It is also in the late teens that your wisdom teeth, or third molars, usually appear or start to cause pain and discomfort. At visits during these years your dentist will:
- help you make decisions about your wisdom teeth and if they will need to be taken out
- talk to you about any dental work that you might want or need done to correct or improve the appearance of your teeth such as straightening, whitening or veneers
- fix any damaged teeth and talk to you about ways to prevent future damage such as change in diet and avoiding things like soft drinks
- help fix problems caused by grinding or clenching your jaw including teeth wear as well as headaches and neck pain.
Mid thirties to middle age
It is often common in this age group that people have been neglecting their dental care usually due to a focus on other things such as family and trying to avoid expenses. This can mean that issues aren't picked up early by your dentist and the work needed to fix any problems is more extensive. Your dentist will focus on:
- identifying and working on any new damage or issues with your teeth and gums
- improving the function and appearance of your teeth if needed such as crowns, veneers and removable part dentures
- helping you with any long term jaw issues including grinding, clenching and snoring.
Middle age to senior citizens
Often people in this age group have had a lot of dental work done in the past, due to growing up before fluoride was added to tap water as well as high sugar consumption and high smoking rates. Regular visits to your dentist to check and maintain your teeth are particularly important. Your dentist will:
- help you manage any dental issues such as gum disease, receding gums and tooth sensitivity
- assess clenching, teeth grinding, snoring and sleep apnoea problems as disturbed sleep can become a major health issue
- make sure any dental care or procedures won't effect any health issues you might have.
Aging patients need gentle care without pressure or stress and in a place or manner that suits their physical needs such as in a hospital or nursing home. Even if major dental work is not possible due to your health, regular cleans can help you feel more comfortable. Your dentist will need to:
- take into careful account any medications you may be taking and any other medical or health issues
- make you as comfortable as possible for treatment and consider any particular needs and difficulties.