By the time your child reaches the teen years, you can only hope that all the dental habits you instilled in him or her as a child stick around. But, remembering to brush twice a day and to floss daily are just the beginning of the ways your teenager can take good care of his or her mouth. As your teen gets older, a number of other issues can present challenges to his or her dental health. From avoiding certain habits to staying in regular contact with the dentist, your teen can reduce his or her risk for developing common dental problems.
You’ve probably gone over the risks of smoking with your teenager countless times, and he or she has probably gotten the full lecture in health classes or at school. Of course, if you’re not sure if the message has stuck, there’s another way to get your kid to rethink starting a tobacco habit: it’s a disaster for the teeth.
Smoking increases the risk for gum disease, for one thing, which is more common among teens than many people think. It also affects the way your teen’s teeth look, which, at this stage in his or her life, might be the bigger concern. Nicotine has a way of staining teeth, turning them yellow. Smoking can also cause bad breath, which can be embarrassing for teenagers. Although your teen might not want to discuss his or her smoking habits with you, encourage him or her to be honest with the dentist, so that he or she gets the right treatment and advice.
While younger kids do play sports, as they get older, those same sports can get a lot more physical, putting the mouth at risk for injury. For example, while pee-wee football might be touch or flag, it’s likely that high school football is going to be tackle. No matter what type of sport your teenager plays, from field hockey to football and from soccer to track & field, wearing a mouthguard to practices, games, and meets is a must. Ideally, the coach and team will require mouthguards, but if they don’t, make sure your teen wears one anyway.
You can find mouthguards available over-the-counter. But, your teenager will get a better fit and be more comfortable if he or she gets one that is custom-fit to his or her mouth.
Diet and Dentistry
Teens start to be more independent about what they eat and drink. While you can still serve healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to your family, your teen might also be eating sweets and drinking sodas during snacktime or at school.
Remind your teen of the damage that sugar can do to his or her teeth, causing decay and cavities. It might be a good idea to review the basics of nutrition with him or her, so that there’s an understanding of what foods are good for the teeth and which ones are harmful. You probably can’t stop your teen from eating a candy bar after school, but you can give him or her the information needed to make better dietary choices.
Few parents welcome the idea of their teenager getting a lip or tongue ring. Here’s another reason why you might want to be wary of certain unconventional piercings: They can damage the teeth and increase a teen’s risk for an oral infection. For the most part, teenagers can’t get piercings without parental permission until they are age 18, so that might be an area where you want to put your foot down.
The emergence of the wisdom teeth might be a dental problem many teenagers share. Having wisdom teeth removed is almost a rite of passage for some teens.
It’s a rare case when all of a person’s wisdom teeth have come in fully and without any issues. Many people either don’t get their wisdom teeth or have them come in impacted, meaning they get stuck in the gums, due to their angle or because other teeth are in the way.
If your teenager does have his or her wisdom teeth and there isn’t space in the mouth for them, in many cases, the sooner they are taken out, the better. Some people prefer to wait and see if the teeth will cause any issues, but that approach might not be right for everyone. Your teen’s dentist will let you know if he or she thinks the teeth should come out. You can make your decision based on that information.
Dental concerns can strike at any age, whether they are gum disease, infections or tooth troubles. Teaching your kids the basics of good oral care, then making sure they stick with those basics in the teen years, will help them have a smile they can be proud of throughout their lifetime.
If your teen does think he or she has an issue, the sooner a dentist or periodontist looks at it, the better. In Miami, Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas provide a range of dental services, from treating gum disease to removing wisdom teeth. Whatever your teen’s issue is, call the periodontists at (305) 447-1447 to schedule an appointment today.