Dentistry for Kids and Teenagers

Dental care may be the last thing on a teenager's mind, but this is the ideal time to set in place healthy habits that will benefit you for a lifetime. To begin with, puberty can make a teenager more susceptible to cavities and the possibility of needing gum disease treatment now or in the near future.  As an active teen you may be vulnerable to chipping a tooth due to sports or other activities.  It is very important to address any dental damage as soon as possible.  It is very important to monitor your oral hygiene and eating habits.  Be sure to understand your dentist's oral health assessment and how to put your hygiene plan into action. 

As a teenager you probably have a lot of stuff to worry about. If you currently rely on your parents to keep track of everything, now is the time for you to become knowledgeable about your overall oral health and hygiene.  As a teenager you really should not be getting cavities very often. The majority of dental concerns that teenagers have should center on prevention issues.

To keep that healthy and attractive smile for many years to come, be aware of things that could destroy your teeth and gums. Avoid drinking too much soda. Soda and sports drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar and carbonation which cause tooth enamel to break down. This leads to tooth decay.

Other habits that you should avoid and/or break if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong include smoking and chewing tobacco.  When you chew or smoke tobacco, your teeth get stained, you get bad breath, you become prone to periodontal or gum diseases and oral cancer.

If you are experiencing eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, you have to get a grip on those right away.  Eating disorders damage the appearance of teeth by wearing down the tooth's enamel. Though dentists can restore teeth using dental crowns, composite fillings or other treatments, treating the eating disorder of the patient comes first.  You can talk to your dentist and your physician who can recommend psychological counseling to integrate with dental treatment.

Teenagers may have oral piercings. Be aware that you are risking your oral health by doing so. Oral piercing leads to tooth fractures. The piercing can chip your teeth while you eat, sleep, chew, and talk. To treat these fractures, you may need fillings, crowns, or even root canals. The piercing may also cause restriction of breathing due to swelling, painful infections, uncontrollable breathing, blood poisoning and blood clots. Think twice about having any oral piercing.

Another cause for the teeth damage could be bruxism (clenching or grinding of the teeth) which may be due to stress.  Teens tend to get stressed out because of upcoming exams, etc. Bruxism usually occurs at night while you sleep. When you wake up in the morning, your jaw may feel sore, you may hear a clicking sound when you open or close your mouth or your teeth may become sensitive. Tooth grinding or bruxism could lead to temporomandibular disorder (TMJ). Immediately have an appointment with your dentist so that they may fit a night guard for you to wear to protect your teeth.

If you are into sports where you might have hard contact with other players or hard surfaces, you should use a mouth guard. Mouth guards protect your teeth from being broken or chipped which might cause root and bone damage or tooth loss.

Naturally, having good eating habits and a healthy balanced diet keeps your whole body as well as your smile in good condition. Eating foods from the basic food groups and avoiding sugary foods that could stick to your teeth or stay in your mouth for long periods of time will help prevent permanent damage. When you are in a rush, try some smart alternative food choices like fruits, raw vegetables, yogurt or cheese. That way, you are not only safe from tooth damage, you are also providing your body with healthy nutrients.

Teens are tempted by the many at-home whitening kits that are available in drugstores. You must be sure you know how to use a whitening kit, because mistakes in following proper instructions can cause severe and serious damage to your teeth. It is still best to ask your dentist for help and advice in choosing a whitening kit. 

As teenagers with young teeth and bones, those visible surface stains are best removed when you have your regular preventive visits (cleanings) with your dentist.  In between visits, be sure to brush and floss!

Your dentist was once a teenager and understands human nature.  You have to be honest with your dentist about your dental hygiene it so that he or she can give you the advice and treatment that is best for you and your unique smile!


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