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Instilling good hygiene in your teen likely started when they were very small. But as kids get older and their commitments grow, they may let their oral health care fall by the wayside. The teen years are the perfect time to re-establish healthy habits so they can continue those habits well into adulthood.
From diet and breath to whitening and braces, there are many ways to encourage good habits that help your teen son or daughter achieve not only healthy teeth but a healthy life as well.
Teenagers face unique challenges that younger kids do not. The teen years often come with braces, contact sports, and diets high in sugar and carbohydrates. There may even be eating disorders, smoking, and mouth piercings to contend with. Teens typically have higher rates of tooth decay because of these added challenges. Some conditions are obvious, such as bad breath or involvement in sports, while others may be hidden from adults. Yet they all can compromise healthy teeth.
Especially when it comes to orthodontics, all those brackets, wires, and elastics can become obstacles to achieving optimal dental hygiene in Studio City. Teens should know exactly how, and when, they need to brush their teeth when they have braces, so that they can remove plaque and food debris effectively.
Tell them to:
If your teen plays a contact sport, such as soccer, lacrosse or football, make sure they wear mouthguards at all times. Mouthguards not only protect the teeth, but the jaw and head as well. You can even get mouthguards custom made for the best fit.
Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates can increase the risk of cavities, particularly when combined with the potential for poor oral hygiene. Limit the intake of sweets and give your teen healthy alternatives, such as fresh fruit. Don’t stock the house with soda and other sweetened beverages, which can damage the teeth and interfere with proper calcium absorption.
Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are more common in teens than you may think. Many go to great lengths to keep these problems hidden from parents, caregivers, and teachers. However, a trained dental professional can recognize signs of these disorders that threaten healthy teeth and soft tissue.
They can be on the lookout for signs of eating disorders such as:
There are other factors that can greatly impact oral health. Do your part to discourage smoking and using other tobacco products. Maintain a tobacco-free home and have frequent discussions with your teen about how important it is to not smoke. Dental effects of smoking include:
Smoking weakens your immune system, so it’s harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking makes it more difficult for gums to heal. To really bring home the importance of not smoking, tell them these stats from the CDC. If you smoke:
In addition, smokeless tobacco can cause tooth decay, gum recession, and white patches in the mouth that could lead to oral cancer.
Another concern that could potentially compromise healthy teeth in teens is mouth piercings. If you can’t talk your kid out of getting a piercing, at least bring them to the dentist before the procedure so they can learn about the potential risks and how to avoid them. It’s best if you can discourage mouth piercings altogether, though, due to the high risk of infection, damage to teeth, and possible allergic reactions.
If your teen already has an oral piercing, make sure they are taking it out and cleaning it regularly.
If your teen drinks coffee, tea, or soda throughout the day, they may experience staining of their teeth over time. They may want to consider teeth whitening to restore the brilliance of their pearly whites.
If you notice your teen has bad breath, encourage more flossing and gargling with mouthwash. It can be difficult to broach the subject, but there are gentle ways of offering suggestions. It could be something they’re eating (such as garlic, onions, cabbage, and coffee, as the odor from these foods expels from the lungs after being absorbed into the bloodstream).
The most common reason for bad breath is infrequent brushing and flossing, as bacteria from food particles that are left on the teeth and tongue can start to rot and emit a foul smell. Regular brushing, flossing, and gargling will help.
There are other causes of bad breath in teenagers, including mouth or throat infections, a blocked nose, sinusitis, gingivitis, tooth decay or abscesses. These conditions can be detected and treated by proper dental hygiene and regular dental visits to our office in Studio City.
Teenagers who properly care for their mouth will enjoy healthy teeth today and for the foreseeable future. Parents, you play a key role in prevention by setting good examples, talking to your teens about how they can avoid dental problems, and making sure they get regular dental care. Your teen’s dentist and hygienist also play a pivotal role in their oral health. Don’t skimp on those twice-yearly dental visits, no matter how busy your child is with school, extracurricular activities, and work.
To make an appointment for your teen, contact us at 818-762-2977 or fill out our convenient online form.