Dr Paul Carey: When Should A Person’s Dental Care Begin?

When it comes to oral health, it’s the proactive, preventive approach that genuinely saves the day. Unpacking the timeline for dental care unveils that oral health isn’t about starting early – it’s about starting earliest. Dr Paul Carey will discuss the right time when dental care should begin.

Beginning Before The First Tooth

It might seem premature to consider dental care for a newborn, particularly when the smile is all gums. Yet, the gums are the bedrock upon which teeth emerge and therefore merit care. Hygiene kicks off with the simple cleansing of the baby’s gums after feedings to ward off bacterial accumulation. This early intervention sets the stage for healthy gums which will support healthy teeth.

The Arrival of the First Tooth: Introducing Dental Routines

The eruption of the first tooth is a gentle nudge that it’s time to elevate dental care from gum wiping to gentle brushing. Pediatric dental circles echo the advice that a child’s first dental appointment should coincide with the first birthday. 

This practice isn’t merely ritualistic but an early preventive measure to ensure teeth are developing correctly and there are no signs of potential dental issues.

Childhood: Educating and Establishing Habits

Childhood is a primetime for instilling dental hygiene. It’s the phase where oral care education should be integrated into daily routines. Establishing correct brushing techniques, promoting the twice-a-day regime, and introducing flossing as part of the daily ritual is critical. 

This period is also marked by routine dental visits where early signs of misalignments can be spotted and corrected, and protective measures like dental sealants can be administered.

Adolescence: Reinforcing and Adapting Dental Care

Any discussion of dental care would be incomplete without addressing the tumultuous adolescent years. The complexity of braces, the emergence of wisdom teeth, and the fluctuations in diet and hygiene need vigilant dental care. 

For Dr Paul Carey, it’s essential to adapt oral hygiene to accommodate orthodontic work and continue with regular dental checkups to spot other issues such as impacted teeth or the onset of gingivitis.

Adulthood: The Integral Maintenance Phase

As the formative years are left behind, adults own the full responsibility for their dental health. The focus shifts squarely to maintenance, with an understanding that oral health can significantly impact overall well-being. 

The frequency of cleanings and check-ups might be adjusted based on a person’s needs, but neglecting this responsibility can lead to detrimental outcomes such as periodontal disease or tooth loss.

The Golden Years: Special Care for Lasting Health

Oral care in the golden years is compounded by considerations like medication side-effects, diminished dexterity, and existing dental work. The needs are more nuanced, with conditions such as dry mouth, gum recession, and the maintenance of dental implants or dentures requiring specialized care. Professional oversight during this time becomes even more critical.

Throughout All Stages: Combating Specific Conditions

Lastly, while this timeline provides a general guide, it is also necessary to incorporate care for specific dental conditions at different life stages. 
This could include dealing with baby bottle tooth decay in infancy, sport-related dental injuries in adolescence, or pregnancy-induced gingivitis during adulthood. In the end, Dr Paul Carey believes that oral health is a lifelong commitment, and the journey to sustaining it starts the moment life begins.


Ivy Skye Marshall: Ivy, a social justice reporter, covers human rights issues, social movements, and stories of community resilience.