What do parents need to be aware of for their child’s dental health during the teen years? Parents often focus on their teens’ body and emotional changes, but dental health is just as important. A teen’s teeth and mouth undergo changes during this time too. Teens’ lifestyle decisions and actions can also affect teeth, gums, and overall health. Here are a few things you may not have thought about when it comes to your teen and mouth health:
Over-consumption of sugary sodas and foods
Most teens understand the effect of sugary or unhealthy foods on their body and teeth, but they overlook drinks. Sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened coffee drinks are very high in sugar. Even diet sodas negatively affect the teeth, with high levels of phosphoric acid, which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Water is the best option for teeth and the whole body.
Suffering from eating disorders
Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders affect more than emotional state and body health. Eating disorders also create oral health concerns including enamel erosion, infections, and dry mouth, among others. Some studies have shown that early intervention in the development of an eating disorder has the best likelihood of long-term recovery.
Participating in contact sports
Many active adolescents participate in high-energy sports that do not require mouth guards. Soccer, for example, has a high risk of contact to the face by competitors or the ball. Teens participating in contact sports should consider various mouth guard options to ensure mouth safety.
Getting mouth piercings
Teens have a need to express themselves, sometimes with choices that affect their appearance, including “mouth art.” Piercings can harbor bacteria and lead to infections, swollen gums, and bad breath. Therefore, piercings should be surgical grade stainless steel and cleaned thoroughly after meals and snacks.
Many oral health issues that can become serious in adulthood are preventable in adolescence. The best way for teens to enjoy a sparkling smile and strong teeth is to practice good dental health habits. Keeping twice-yearly appointments with a dental professional will also help to ensure a healthy and bright smile for your teen. We would love to see your teen! Make an appointment at our office today.