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12 October 2022

Dental Care for Teenagers: Protecting a Healthy and Vibrant Smile

Adolescents between 12 and 19 years old will develop at least one cavity, research shows. Furthermore, an additional 20 percent of teenagers may suffer from one or more untreated cavities.

So, it is abundantly clear that adopting the right lifestyle habits during these crucial years is the best way to avoid more serious problems in the future. Let us examine some common dental concerns associated with teenagers – then discuss a handful of sure-fire recommendations.

Mouth Jewellery

While jewellery in the mouth is a popular fashion trend, these can cause a fair amount of damage to the teeth and gums. The chances of developing an oral infection are likewise increased. Professionals therefore aren’t recommending any type of jewellery (such as tongue rings and lip piercings).

Smoking

Some teenagers may be tempted to smoke cigarettes. Once again, the risks associated with this habit are serious. Cigarette smoke can stain the teeth, irritate the gums and impact taste sensations. Long-term use may even lead to serious health issues such as oral cancer. Cigarettes should therefore be avoided at all costs.

Orthodontic Issues

Many teenagers have crooked teeth. If left untreated, this scenario can lead to other issues such as excessive wear and tear on the enamel, difficulty chewing specific foods and headaches due to issues associated with the jaw. The good news is that cutting-edge orthodontic solutions such as invisible braces and clear retainers can remedy misaligned teeth.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth tend to arrive between the ages of 17 and 21. While some teenagers will experience no issues, others may develop what are known as “impacted” wisdom teeth.

In this case, one or more teeth may emerge from the gums in a crooked fashion, and can crowd the teeth. This can lead to issues including pain, gum disease and even damage to nearby teeth. Dentist will therefore sometimes choose to remove these wisdom teeth altogether – to eliminate the risk of complications.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Lifelong Results

Now that we have examined some of the oral issues that teenagers may experience, what steps can they take to ensure a healthy and attractive smile? Let’s examine three sure-fire suggestions as well as the unique benefits of each.

Mouthguards

This type of dental protection is particularly effective for teenagers who enjoy playing contact sports such as football, rugby or snowboarding. The main purpose of a mouthguard is to protect the teeth and gums from damage that may result from an unexpected blow.

It is likewise important to mention that each of these devices should be custom fitted for the unique shape of each mouth. Speak with your family dentist or orthodontist if you’re interested.

Dental Sealants

Some teenagers may be more prone to developing cavities when compared to others. One way to address this issue comes in the form of what is known as a dental sealant.

This is a plastic coating that will be placed atop teeth that are prone to cavities (such as the back molars). This treatment will help to protect against wear and tear while reducing the chances that a cavity develops. While quite durable, the sealant may need to be redone at times.

Targeted Oral Care Techniques

Of course, it only stands to reason that a proactive approach at an early age is another excellent way to ensure oral health well into the future. Teenagers should therefore be encouraged to adopt the correct brushing habits.

Flossing is also recommended, as this can help to remove tiny food particles that might otherwise remain trapped between the teeth, leading to potential issues such as cavities and gum disease. Teenagers should brush their teeth at least twice each day.

Nutrition and Diet

Nutrition is likewise a crucial subject to avert issues with the teeth and gums. The first step involves knowing the types of foods to avoid. Here are some of the top substances that should be consumed sparingly (or eliminate altogether):

  • Carbonated and/or sugary drinks
  • Candies and cookies
  • Dried fruits (these can often stick to the surfaces of the teeth)
  • Chewing on ice

While these foods are often tempting to teenagers, parents should explain their dangers while providing healthier alternatives. This leads us directly into the next main point.

Healthy Foods to Embrace

Fruits and vegetables will provide a host of much-needed nutrients as well as ample amounts of dietary fibre. Furthermore, many of these foods are extremely tasty. Fruits and veggies can be offered as snacks throughout the day.

Whole grains (such as oatmeal and brown rice) are also wise choices. Not only are these extremely low in sugar, but they will provide a much-needed source of energy throughout the day. This is obviously beneficial for active teenagers.

Low-fat dairy products and lean sources of protein are extremely important for strong bones and muscles. These are particularly beneficial for teenagers who may be growing at a fast pace. Fish such as salmon and tuna are likewise great options to include.

In terms of snacking, teenagers are always tempted to make unhealthy choices, particularly while away from home. They should be encouraged to opt for healthy on-the-go options such as fresh fruit or nuts, as these can help to subdue cravings between meals.

Developing Healthy Oral Habits to Last a Lifetime

While there are many concerns associated with the oral health of a teenager, there are also plenty of ways in which positive habits can be adopted. Not only will these strategies ensure a bright smile, but they can often avert more serious consequences that may require a significant amount of time (and money) to correct.

Sources:

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/teens/healthy-habits

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/teens/concerns

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/teens/nutrition

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