Oral health for adults

The effects of tooth decay grow over time and continue into adulthood. Almost all Canadian adults have had tooth decay at some point in their lives.

Caring for your teeth and mouth

A healthy mouth and teeth is about more than just a nice smile. It is about your overall health. Maintaining good oral health should be a priority throughout your life.

There are many resources to help you learn more about oral health, including brushing and flossing, and specifics about oral health for:

Consequences of tooth decay may include:

  • pain and discomfort
  • inability to socialize or eat
  • time lost from work and school
  • infection and abscesses, which may spread beyond the jaws

Consequences of gum disease may include:

  • tooth loss
  • respiratory infections
  • cardiovascular effects
  • effects on an unborn child
  • complications with diabetes

Developing an oral health plan

To maintain good oral health and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease and other diseases, you can:

  • remove plaque by brushing your teeth for about 2 minutes at least twice a day
  • floss daily to remove plaque between your teeth
  • use water, toothpaste or rinses containing fluoride to strengthen your teeth
  • check your teeth, gums and mouth regularly. If you notice any problems with your mouth or teeth, plan to see an oral health professional as soon as you can
  • don't smoke or chew tobacco
  • stay active and make healthy food choices according to Canada's Food Guide
    • choose foods that have little to no added sugars
  • speak to an oral health professional or another health care provider to help design an oral health plan that's right for you if
    • you have diabetes, heart or respiratory disease
    • you're pregnant or plan to become so
  • see an oral health professional on a regular basis

Know your mouth

Check your gums and teeth on a regular basis to make sure they are healthy.

Gum disease

Gum health is important for the overall health of your teeth and mouth. Gum disease, which includes both gingivitis and periodontal disease, affects the majority of Canadian adults.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth (the third molars) usually appear in the mouth between the ages of 17 and 21. These teeth are called wisdom teeth because they come through the gums at a more mature age than the other teeth.

When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. They can also cause issues if there isn’t enough space for them to grow, or if they are positioned sideways.

If this is the case, you may get food stuck in your teeth and have difficulty brushing or flossing properly. Bacteria from this debris can cause infection to the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth. This may lead to puffy and bleeding gums, and bad breath.

If this occurs, it is important to visit  an oral health professional so they can properly assess the problem.

Related Resources

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