Additionally, we will address any concerns your teen may have, and the importance of good oral health habits.
We recommend that teens:
• Brush and floss regularly, especially if wearing braces
• Eat a healthy diet, avoiding junk foods, candy, sugared gum, and soft drinks
• Always wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports
• Avoid tobacco in any form, especially smokeless tobacco
Oral care is not just for young children and adults. Dental dangers that are most often targeted at teens can cause big problems in the future, but can be avoided through proper care.
Dental Concerns specific to Adolescents
Coffee, sugary candy, and junk food- For teens in particular, poor nutrition can cause permanent oral health issues. High sugar consumption over an extended period of time causes plaque bacteria to produce acids that decay the enamel of your teeth. To avoid damage and decay, avoid high-sugar and sticky foods and always floss and brush thoroughly.
Braces- Many teens get braces for a few years to correct the alignment of their teeth or an improper bite. Braces can make it more difficult to clean your teeth and allow for food to get stuck in hard-to-reach places. It’s recommended that you try to floss or brush every time after eating to avoid decay and white spots on the teeth, and see your dentist for cleanings more frequently.
Wisdom teeth- These usually come into the mouth around the ages of 17 to 21. They can cause problems such as crowding, pain, decay, infection, and pericoronitis. Regular visits to the dentist are important in order to identify any problems with wisdom teeth through x-rays before they become severe. Removing wisdom teeth is a common dental procedure for teens.
Contact sports- For anyone who plays contact sports, the use of mouthguards is necessary during all practices and games. Studies have shown that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. Discuss with your dentist the right mouthguard for you. If a mouth injury does occur during physical activity, contact your dentist for specific advice or emergency care.
Eating disorders- Improper nutrition negatively affects all areas of the body, especially the mouth. For people with bulimia, stomach acid erodes the enamel of the teeth and can cause yellowing and shortening. If you suffer from an eating disorder, it is important to seek counseling and talk to your health care provider. A dentist can often identify early signs of a negative impact of poor diet on your dental health. It is important to be honest and communicate with your dentist to avoid permanent dental problems.
Smoking, e-cigarettes, hookahs, and smokeless tobacco- Beyond the well-known risks of smoking, these behaviors can be specifically detrimental to a teen’s dental health. Cigarettes, along with the new “healthier” alternatives to cigarettes, expose people to dangers like nicotine addiction, tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and various oral cancers. Studies at the NYU College of Dentistry have shown that the newly popular e-cigarettes can cause periodontal bacteria to become more pathogenic, which causes periodontal disease. Alternatives to conventional cigarettes have not been researched for extended time periods because they are so new, but initial findings have suggested similar risks and should be avoided in the same manner as cigarettes.
Along with consistent brushing and flossing, the key to optimal oral health is making smart decisions and visiting the dentist on a regular basis. It’s important to help young adults understand the long lasting impact that neglect and bad habits can have going forward. Our staff works collaboratively with our teenage patients to instill good habits, address dental concerns, and help teens facilitate their unique cosmetic and dental health goals.