If you’re between those ages, your teeth should be in pretty good shape if you’ve been brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
But, you need to begin to be aware of a few things:
Sensitivity: As you age, your gums naturally recede, which exposes the roots of the teeth; also, enamel starts to soften. Both can trigger that zingy feeling when you eat something cold. Proper brushing is key to avoiding receding gums, says dentist Robert E. Roesch, a Fremont, Nebraska–based spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. Use a soft-bristled brush (manual or electric), and “hold it at a 45- to 60-degree angle toward your gums,” he says. Gently brush up and down, not side to side; the latter can be hard on gums. To strengthen enamel, choose a toothpaste and a mouth rinse (to use after brushing) with fluoride, says Emanuel Layliev, a dentist and the director of the New York Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, in New York City.
Stress: Stress can make you gnash your teeth—literally. Gnashing, a.k.a. tooth grinding, “often occurs while you’re asleep, so you’re not even aware of it,” says Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling, an orthodontist in New York City. Grinding wears down the tops of teeth and increases the risk of cavities. See your dentist if you frequently wake up with headaches or a sore jaw; he can fit you with a protective mouth guard to wear at night.
Your daily soda: “The acid content in soda erodes enamel,” says dentist Anthony Iacopino, a Winnipeg, Manitoba–based spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Use a straw to limit the liquid’s contact with teeth, and rinse your mouth with water after you drink. And, odd as it seems, don’t brush right after you have acidic drinks (or acidic foods, such as citrus fruits)—this can actually exacerbate erosion.
Now is the time to ensure that you minimize all of those possible problems. Get fitted with a night guard. Make it a routine part of your life. It will cut down dramatically on tooth erosion if you start to address the possibility early in life.
Also, keep the point about sodas in mind and do the common sense things like use a straw and rise your mouth with water after drinking. The same holds true for fruit juice drinks which are both acidic and full of sugar.
Finally, make an investment in a good toothbrush, such as Sonicare. It will pay dividends for you on down the road.
If you have any questions about your dental care, be sure to give us a call at the office and we’d be glad to discuss them with you.