Adolescence & Oral Care
There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.
Once teenagers develop their full set of permanent teeth, preventative dental care and orthodontics are likely to take precedence in their dental care.
As your teenage child becomes more independent and more responsible for their own oral hygiene routine, it’s important to instill in them the importance of good dental care. We offer services for teens that emphasizes the importance of oral hygiene and good nutrition for healthy teeth development.
Caring For Permanent Teeth and Forming Proper Oral Hygiene Habits
By the time they reach their teens, most children have almost all of their permanent adult teeth. Typically, a young teen has about 28 permanent teeth. The last four permanent teeth, known by most as, wisdom teeth, may erupt around the ages of 18 and 20, but if they are impacted may require removal as early as the age of 14. In order to prevent significant dental care issues down the line as well as other health care complications we work with your teen to create superior dental hygiene habits.
The care for a teenager’s adult teeth includes brushing at least twice per day to remove plaque, tartar and build-up from the crevices of the teeth. In addition, to remove excess bacteria, floss and scrape the tongue at least once daily.
Creating an Orthodontic Treatment Plan
You may notice that as your child’s adult teeth come in that they are crooked, overlapping, or spaced improperly within their mouth. This is extremely common, and most teen patients will need to have some type of orthodontic treatment. For this treatment your child will be referred to an orthodontist, a dentist who has specialized in orthodontic care.
Orthodontic treatment is specialized dental procedures that improve the cosmetic appearance of the patient’s overall smile and teeth alignment. Braces, retainers, and other appliances can be recommended by an orthodontist to correct a number of issues:
- Braces are used specifically for straightening teeth and correcting overbites or under bites. This is the most common form of orthodontic treatment.
- Retainers can be used in order to straighten smaller areas of misalignment in some patients as well as maintain the new appearance of teeth after a patient has undergone an oral surgery or orthodontic treatment such as braces.
Understanding Cavities and Preventing Gum Disease in Your Teen
Many teens don’t give much thought to the fact that the dietary choices they make will impact their dental health and general health for the rest of their lives. To prevent cavities, and other dental issues, it’s best if teens minimize sugar intake in the form of soda, sports drinks, candy, and other high-carbohydrate snacks. By making good choices when it comes to meals and snacks and practicing good oral hygiene, teens might be able to prevent the formation of cavities and the need for fillings in the future.
In the event of a cavity, there are several dental filling treatment options available. Amalgam fillings, which are made of several metals, have been used for nearly a century to treat cavities. More commonly used to fill cavities today are composite fillings, which are tooth-colored fillings made of glass or resin. While cavities are not uncommon in children and adults, it is best to start healthy dental habits as soon as possible to avoid the pain and risk of other problems that cavities can cause.
Continue scheduling visits to the dentist at least twice per year in order to have your teenager’s teeth cleaned and examined by the dentist. It is during these visits that your teen’s teeth alignment and wisdom tooth growth can be monitored in case specialized treatment in the form of orthodontics are needed
Tongue Piercing – Is It Really Cool?
You might not be surprised anymore to see people with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be.
There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.
Tobacco – Bad News In Any Form
Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce precancerous lesions called leukoplakias.
If your child is a tobacco user you should watch for the following that could be early signs of oral cancer:
- A sore that won’t heal.
- White or red leathery patches on the lips, and on or under the tongue.
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people often ignore them. If it’s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can kill.
Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums and cheeks.
Advice For Parent
Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself and schedule regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.
Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and bad breath.
If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It’s much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person’s sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.