Teen Dental Care

Dental Care for Teenagers

What do teenagers know about good oral health practices? Probably not more than the fact that brushing in the morning and night and flossing should be routine. However, there are many issues that can affect the health of teenage teeth and mouths, not the least of which is what they eat and drink.

Here are some guidelines for making dental health a habitual practice:


Drink plenty of the best beverage for your teeth – Water!

Drinking water is always good for your overall health. It has additional benefits for teeth as well. It keeps your mouth moist, which guards against dry mouth. Saliva is the mouth’s first defense against tooth decay. Saliva washes away food left behind after a meal. Water, if fortified, washes teeth with vitamins and minerals such as calcium.


Consider what to eat and what not to eat – Dos and Don’ts!

A well-balanced diet is one that contributes to overall health as well as to oral health. Eat dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt); lean protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs); fruits and vegetables; and nuts that are low in carbohydrates. The worst foods for oral health include some obvious choices, such as candy, chips, and sticky foods, including dried fruits in trail mix. Not as obvious are acidic foods like oranges, lemons, and limes which require mouth rinsing after eating. Coffee or tea with sugar is also on the “rinse after” list to wash away remnants of sugar and to minimize staining. One surprise on this list is ice.  Chewing ice can damage teeth, so it should be avoided.


Be smart about wisdom teeth – Make an Appointment!

Wisdom teeth usually arrive somewhere between the ages of 17 and 21. Sometimes there isn’t enough room in the mouth for them to position correctly, so the dentist should be consulted to see if corrective measures are needed. Removal of wisdom teeth may be recommended to prevent problems.


Guard against sports injury – Wear a Mouth Guard!

Mouth protectors help to cushion a blow to the face and minimize the risk of broken teeth and injuries to lips, tongue, face or jaw when participating in sports.  Mouth guards usually cover the upper teeth, which are more vulnerable to injury. Most school sports teams require the use of a mouth guard, as it is as important as a helmet or knee pads.


Stay away from the #1 Enemy of healthy teeth – Sugary Drinks!

Fruit juice, soda, and sports drinks are loaded with sugar. Bacteria in the mouth, which causes cavities, feed on sugar and produce an acid that erodes tooth enamel, the outer layer of teeth. Drinks that also contain citrus or malic acid to cut down on the sugary taste, are just as bad for tooth enamel.


Don’t even get started with this bad habit – Smoking!

It’s been said regarding so many health issues. Don’t smoke. All forms of tobacco are harmful to oral health. They cause bad breath, stained teeth, and gum disease. Smoking dulls the sense of taste and smell. It can even cause or contribute to oral cancer.


Think twice about this fashion craze. – Pierce Not!

Some teens think oral piercings or tongue splitting is a “with-it’ look, but this practice can be dangerous to your health. Piercings can cause infection and swelling of the mouth and tongue, causing the airway to narrow. If a piece of jewelry breaks off in the mouth, choking can occur. Biting down too hard on jewelry can crack a tooth. Worse, an infected oral piercing can lead to more serious systemic infections.


Say no to drugs – Or Say Goodbye to Teeth!

Drug use can have devastating effects on oral health. For example, “Meth” (Methamphetamine) a highly potent stimulant to the central nervous system) can cause many health problems: nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, brain damage … and tooth decay. Teeth become stained, blackened, rotted, and fall apart. Often the teeth cannot be saved and must be removed.


Beware of eating disorders – Proper Nutrition is Key!

Eating disorders result from complex physical, emotional and social issues. Serious eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, affect more than 10 million Americans*, many of whom are teens. Eating disorders affect oral health in several ways. Gums and other soft tissue inside the mouth may bleed easily without proper nutrition. Glands that produce saliva can swell and result in chronic dry mouth. Vomiting frequently causes strong stomach acid to flow over teeth, injuring tooth enamel. Edges of the teeth become thin and can break. It is important for those suffering from eating disorders to speak to a health care provider and to seek counseling.


Master the first defense against dental disease – Brush, Floss, Rinse!

Brush twice a day for at least two minutes and floss at least once a day. Using an electric toothbrush and an oral irrigator (water pik) can help make the process efficient and regular.  Dentists agree that routine brushing and flossing protect against tooth decay. Finish with a mouthwash that helps reduce plaque and freshens breath.

Following these guidelines will create the habits that go a long way toward maintaining healthy teeth and a healthy lifestyle.


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