The Terrible Teens and Dental Health Threats
Teenage years are tough. With hormones, acne, and balancing out social life with school life, adolescents is no easy task. As a parent, there are plenty of things to worry about and you don’t want their dental health to be one of them. As children grow older, they are faced with a new set of dental health threats. Just as thumb sucking can affect toddlers’ teeth and eating too much sugar can cause cavities in younger children. Teenagers, too, are at risk for their own dental health issues. And, some might surprise you.
Watching your kids have fun and get serious about sports is great. Also, know that their teeth are at a higher risk of injury. According to momsTEAM, the majority of mouth injuries don’t happen in sports people commonly think they do, like football, lacrosse, and hockey. Because of regulations, mouth guards are required and helps prevent major trauma. Instead, sports like baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, field hockey, and gymnastics are where the majority of injury happens. And, at this age, all of the permanent teeth have come in. Therefore having a tooth knocked out or broken can be quite serious. Moreover, a blow to the face or mouth can also cause cuts and even jaw damage.
With this in mind, the best way to protect your student-athlete is to make sure they wear a mouth guard. Mouth guards act as a barrier in case things get rough on the field, court or mat. But, don’t forget that it’s equally important that the mouthguard fits well, too. Ask about sports mouth guards at your teen’s next dentist appointment. Keep in mind that all sports warrant proper facial protection.
Cigarettes / Vaping
No one ever wants to think their kid will pick up smoking. Unfortunately, according to the Surgeon General’s Report, 90% of all smokers tried smoking before the age of 18. Now, with the introduction of devices like vapes and Juuls, kids are thinking they are safer. That is a horrible misconception. As a parent, you may already be familiar with the negative health effects of tobacco and nicotine usage. However, smoking has a major impact on oral health in particular and can lead to several medical problems, including:
- Oral cancer
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Periodontal disease
- Bad breath
- Stained yellow teeth
- Delayed healing after an oral procedure
It’s important to know that it’s not just cigarettes that can cause these issues. E-cigarettes, vapes, Juuls and other tobacco products can cause these problems too.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
The wisdom teeth are the four molars at the very back of the mouth. They usually come in during the late teens and early twenties. In most cases, it’s best to remove the teeth as they can damage surrounding teeth and cause pain and infections if they become impacted. So, as your teen’s wisdom teeth start to come in, look out for any discomfort or changes to their teeth. At Tooth Fairy Smiles, we monitor your child’s teeth and alert you when it’s time to take them out.
Another hard topic is eating disorders. Improper eating habits can also serve as potential dental health threats among teens. Teeth and gums need proper nutrition in order to stay healthy and strong. Without it, the gums can become sensitive and bleed easier, and dry mouth can develop.
Additionally, eating disorders are harmful to teeth and can lead to enamel erosion and infections. While eating disorders affect people of all ages, teens are at a higher risk. Overall, try to be mindful of your child’s eating habits. If you are concerned about your teenager’s relationship with food, visit The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website.
Oral jewelry and piercings are rather common among high schoolers. Tongue jewelry can actually cause a host of tooth and gum problems. As the tongue moves around the mouth, jewelry can knock against the teeth and gums. Some of the main concerns of long-term wear include:
- infection, pain, and swelling
- damage to gums, teeth, and fillings,
- hypersensitivity to metals
- nerve damage
- excessive drooling
- dental appointment difficulties
If they do get a tongue piercing, contact us or your primary dentist if there are any signs of an infection. Also, talk to us about our recommendations for care, cleaning, sports, and more.
After treating kids and teens for many years, Dr. Prokop at Tooth Fairy Smiles has seen it all. The good news is that most of these dental health threats can be avoided and treated. So, it helps to be aware of the potential risks, especially if you have a teen or two at home. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please contact Tooth Fairy Smiles by calling 410-897-1931.