TEENAGE DENTAL CARE & ORAL HYGIENE
Many kids today will enter their teenage years with no tooth decay or fillings. This is due to water fluoridation, fluorided toothpastes and a better awareness of dental health. However this can produce a false sense of security and a feeling of invincibleness for many kids. Making them believe that their perfect dental health record will continue without any effort.
Unfortuately, dental problems can occur in the teenage years quite quickly and now that they have all their permanent adult teeth, that must be maintained for the rest of their life.
The importance of looking after their teeth at this stage cannot be underestimated.
The teenage years are the best time to lay the foundations of excellent oral hygiene and dental care for life. Obviously, brushing flossing and dental visits are the most important parts to this routine.
But …as teenagers will be teenagers, there are a few areas of particular concern that need to be highlighted
With such busy lives these days kids often eat on the go and frequent snacking is quite common. Because of this a healthy well balanced diet is fundamental not only to our general health, but also our dental health. To achieve this it is best to avoid sugary or starchy foods in between meals. These days, sports drinks are becoming particularly popular but their use needs to be controlled because they are acidic and can cause an increase in tooth decay and sensitivity. It is better to drink the whole quickly rather than sipping them over a long period of time.
With the full eruption of all the permanent teeth, you will now know whether orthodontic treatment will be necessary or not. Having straight teeth should not be thought of as a purely aesthetic or cosmetic concern, but also as a functional concern.
Incorrectly placed teeth or jaws can cause many problems.
The primary problem is that crooked teeth are much harder to keep clean and therefore are at an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Jaw problems can cause headaches and create pain in jaw muscles. At Vermont south dental we can assess the situation and prepare you and refer you on for further orthodontic treatment. During this process we will still be seeing you for your regular check-ups.
Many teenagers are playing sport and the use of a mouth guard to protect not only their teeth but lips as well is vitally important. Any sport where there is a risk of contact to the mouth, be it by a ball or contact with another person, requires the use of a mouth guard. Only a mouth guard that has been professionally made to fit your mouth will provide the maximum protection available. A mouth guard will also lessen the risk of concussion should you receive a heavy knock to the head.
Unfortunately, it is during this time that many adolescents will begin to smoke. The best advice is not to start in the first place. Initially smoking will lead to stained and yellow teeth and cause bad breath. Long-term use has been shown to increase the effect of gum disease and also lead to an increased risk of not only lung cancer but also oral cancers.
Teenagers are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders, particularly anorexia and bulimia. The reason teeth are at risk is due to vomiting. When a person vomits they bring up stomach acids, which can severely damage the teeth by eroding away the tooth enamel. A visit to the dentist is important to help minimize the effect of the stomach acids on teeth. A dentist can’t treat the actual disorder, but may recommend the use of fluoride rinses and special toothpastes to help lessen the damage to the teeth.
- Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. While the teeth are covered in stomach acids, the vigorous action of the toothbrush may scratch the tooth enamel.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with plain tap water.
- Follow up with a fluoridated mouthwash.
- If you don’t have a fluoridated mouthwash, put a dab of fluoridated toothpaste on your finger and smear it over your teeth. Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Brush your teeth at least an hour after vomiting.
TEENAGERS AND PIERCINGS
Tongue and lip Piercing
- While tongue piercings have become one of the most popular options to express ones individuality. Despite the seemingly simple nature of a tongue piercing, they are often wrought with difficulties. As there are risks of infection with any body piercing procedures, it goes without saying that you should ensure that instruments used have been properly sterilized beforehand to avoid the risk of Hepatitis B and C, tetanus or HIV
THE BIGGEST TIP WE CAN GIVE IS –
DON’T DO IT!
But if you do… here are some things to consider……..
THE HEALING PROCESS
Whilst getting the piercing may only take a few minutes, your piercing will take at least 4 weeks to heal (assuming there is no infection. If this is the case it will be painful for a great deal longer.) During the healing period do not smoke or use harsh mouth wash of any kind. The tar and toxins in cigarette smoke are detrimental for the healing of your piercing and Listerine or similar mouth washes can actually burn your tongue flesh.
Most children have ‘bad breath’ -also called Halitosis, when they wake up. This usually goes away after your child has something to eat and drink and cleans their teeth. This sort of bad breath isn’t anything to worry about.
Other causes of bad breath in children and teenagers include:
- mouth or throat infections
- blocked nose
- gum disease (gingivitis)
- tooth decay or abscesses.
In teenagers causes of bad breath might also include:
- extreme diets (for example, a high-protein diet), illnesses like anorexia nervosa,
- poor dental hygiene (particularly if your teenager wears braces or other orthodontic devices)
On Occasion, medical problems might make a child’s breath smell bad or unusual. You should take your child to the GP if you’re worried, or if your child’s bad breath doesn’t go away after trying the treatment strategies below.
TREATMENT FOR BAD BREATH
- Good dental hygiene is the best way to prevent bad breath.
- Your child should brush their teeth and tongue twice a day, as well as floss every day. They could also try using an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of water and cuts down on sugary drinks and caffeinated drinks like coke and coffee.
- Do not use sugary mints or sugary gum to freshen your breath as these can cause decay if used frequently.
- If an infection is causing your child’s bad breath, they may need antibiotics. Speak to your GP if you think this could be the problem.
If your child has bad breath, the first step is to work out what’s causing it. Treating the cause will usually sort it out. Bad breath, or halitosis, usually isn’t anything to worry about.