Patient Education

Patient Education

Tips All Teens Should Know About Dental Health

Tags: , , Data & Facts, Dental Education, Dental Hygiene
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Being a teenager can be tough. With the pressures of school, extracurricular activities, and the ever-increasing responsibilities of home and social groups, it can be hard to find time for your every-day dental health.

There are, however, many reasons teens – and their parents – should prioritize every-day dental care. Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 5 and 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while it is easy to wrestle a 5 year-old into a dentist’s chair, teens often have much more control over their free time, making regular dental checkups a challenge.

As a result, many teens don’t get the dental care they need, or the proper tools and education to develop good oral hygiene habits. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends that teens and their parents stay informed of the following dental health concerns:

Braces
The bane of teenage existence for decades, braces are the last thing any jr. high or high school student wants to deal with. However, they can significantly improve you smile and your oral health. By making your teeth straighter, braces can make brushing, flossing, chewing, and even talking easier. And, thanks to new technology, there are now many different types of invisible options, from clear braces to removable retainers.

If your teeth are crooked, out of alignment, or if you have a bad bite, talk to your dentist to see if braces are the right choice for you.

Wisdom Teeth
The name is misleading – these third molars don’t impart special knowledge before, during, or after they grow in. In fact, they can sometimes be painful. Most people’s wisdom teeth begin to grow in around the ages of 17-21, though they often do not have enough room to grow in properly. When this happens, your dentist may recommend that they be removed.

Talk to your dentist if you experience any of the symptoms below, as it may be a sign that your wisdom teeth are in need of some professional care and attention.
● pain
● infection
● cysts
● tumors
● damage to adjacent teeth
● gum disease
● tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Smoking
Yes, we know you know that smoking is bad for your overall health. But did you know that it’s especially bad for your oral health? Beyond the obvious problem of bad breath, cigarettes can also cause
● stained teeth and tongue
● dulled sense of taste and smell
● slow healing after a tooth extraction or oral surgery
● difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems
● gum disease and tooth loss
● oral cancer

The only way to prevent the negative effects of smoking is to quit. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that nicotine, which is found in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the U.S. It is also extremely addictive, which can make quitting especially difficult. That’s why it’s important to have a strong support network of people who are committed to helping you stick to your plan. For tips on quitting or how to help your child quit, visit Smokefree.gov.

Mouth Jewelry
Mouth jewelry has been cool for some time now, despite most parents’ clear distaste for it. However, if not properly cared for, mouth piercings and their attendant jewelry can be very dangerous to your oral and overall health.

Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria, which can cause dangerous infections or swellings to pierced areas. Furthermore, accidentally biting mouth jewelry can crack a tooth, and repeated contact between a metal piercing and your enamel can cause other long-term damage. Finally, a piercing that becomes and remains infected can lead to a more serious system infection, such as hepatitis or endocarditis.

Eating Disorders
Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are extremely serious health concerns that affect over 10 million Americans, particularly women. Besides their debilitating effects on physical health, eating disorders can be disastrous to oral health. Poor nutrition can cause gums and other soft tissues in the mouth to bleed easily, and swelling of the salivary glands may cause chronic dry mouth. Contact with stomach acid from frequent vomiting can lead to destruction of the enamel, which may result in permanent changes to a tooth’s color, shape, and length.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to seek proper counseling and medical care for these life-threatening conditions as soon as possible. For resources on eating disorders, contact the National Eating Disorders Association.

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