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teenagers and the dentist
by Dr. Michael Popp on Aug 10, 2016
Categorized under Family Dentistry

Regular dental care for your child’s teeth and gums is crucial at any age, especially during their teenage years as your child begins to gain independence and becomes more responsible for his/her own oral care. According to the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), teenagers face unique dental challenges that younger children don’t. These include:

  • Orthodontics
  • Contact Sports
  • Unhealthy Diets (full of sugar and carbohydrates)
  • Smoking
  • Eating Disorders (such as bulimia)
  • Oral Piercings

Because of these new choices and challenges, teenagers tend to exhibit higher rates of tooth decay with an estimated 59% of Canadian adolescents having missing, decayed or filled teeth. While some of these conditions are extremely visible, others are more easily hidden from parents and guardians and may seriously compromise your teenager’s oral health.

At Marlborough Dental Clinic, we cannot stress enough the importance of practicing proper oral care from a young age. That is why our team of Calgary-based dentists have put together a list of things you can do in order to help your teenager attain a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Limit the amount of junk food

Proper nutrition is key to a healthy mouth. A well-balanced diet is crucial for good dental care so try to limit the number of sugary snacks your teenager eats as well as the amount of carbonated drinks they consume. Though you cannot control what your teen eats when they aren’t with you, you can ensure that your home is well stocked with healthy foods such as plain yogurt, raw vegetables and fruits. By keeping your own purchases of unhealthy foods to a minimum, it will limit the amount available for your teenagers.

Talk to them about smoking

The grave statistics of teenage smoking show that 90% of adult smokers began smoking as teenagers and about one quarter of them will become daily smokers. For many health reasons, dental health included, if you suspect your teenager might be smoking, talk to your teen and get them the help they need to nip this terrible habit in the bud. Numerous studies have shown that tobacco use increases the risk of developing gum disease and oral cancer, stains teeth and causes bad breath.

Be aware of oral piercings

Oral piercings are common amongst teeangers but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own set of significant health risks. Your teenager’s dental care can be negatively impacted by some of the associated complications, including:

  • Gum/Tooth Damage
    While talking, chewing or sleeping, piercings can injure the gums and lead to cracked and sensitive teeth. This inevitably leads to extensive dental procedures such as fillings, crowns and even root canals.
  • Infection/Swelling
    Because your mouth is home to huge amounts of bacteria, it’s very likely that an infection can result from an oral piercing. Not only is this painful but an infection can quickly become fatal if not treated. For example, an infected tongue piercing can cause the tongue to swell and block the airway.
  • Nerve Damage
    A numb tongue is common after a piercing which is caused by temporary nerve damage but sometimes, this damage can become permanent. The injured nerve can affect taste and mouth movement and damaged blood vessels can lead to serious blood loss.

Tooth Grinding

It is no secret that the lives of teenagers can often prove to be stressful - whether it’s preparing for that big exam or worrying about college acceptance. Sometimes this pressure can lead to your teenager unknowingly grinding their teeth. If tooth grinding occurs on a regular basis, it can lead to teeth deterioration and increased sensitivity. If your teenager complains about jaw soreness, dull headaches or earaches in the morning, it is important to schedule a dental appointment to find out the root cause of their discomfort. It is likely a night guard will need to be fitted to protect your child’s teeth and reduce their symptoms.

As with many other aspects of raising a teenager, important life lessons are best taught in the home. This includes proper oral hygiene practices. Parents who exhibit good oral habits including regular dental checkups, flossing and eating well, will instill in their teens the value of having a healthy mouth.

Want to Learn More?

For more information on how Marlborough Dental can help keep your teenager’s mouth healthy or to book an appointment at our Calgary dental clinic, contact us at 403-248-2066 or visit marboroughdental.com.


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