Top Dental Issues For Teens
Like adults, teens face many problems with their dental care. According to the Centers for Disease Control, dental decay is the most common chronic disease of children in their teen and pre-teens. There are many factors that contribute to a higher proclivity to teeth decay for teens than for adults.
- Diets and habits are a major contribution to early tooth decay. Teenagers are prone to drinking and eating more sugared foods and drinks such as candy and soda. Sugary substances work with plaque in order to create acid. This acid directly attacks the enamel, which with time can result in cavities and even the loss of the tooth.
- The emergence of molars and wisdom teeth in teen years can also be a hindrance to good oral hygiene. Molars are the most cavity prone teeth. When they first erupt through the gum tissue, two problems arise. First, because there is a flap of tissue over them, it can be difficult to effectively brush these molar surfaces and decay can occur by the time the molar fully erupts into the mouth. Second, tissue areas over erupting molars are typically very sore, especially to brushing. Teens will then be less inclined to brush these areas. Once molars do erupt into the mouth, teens have already become accustomed to not brushing these areas increasing the chances that these teeth will decay.
- Because teens are growing, they are prone to snacking during the day. Snacking a lot during the day can increase the risk of tooth decay. Since food contributes to acid that wears down enamel, teens who snack are exposing their teeth to increased acidity throughout. This can shorten the time for teeth decay to occur.
For many teens, the top dental issues generally are in regards to braces. Most patients use braces to correct their crooked teeth, overbites, or gaps in their teen years. While there are many benefits of braces, they do, however, come with dental issues of their own. It is important to keep good oral hygiene with braces.
With conventional braces, food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between the braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce permanent light spots on the teeth. This is called the bleaching effect. Keeping good oral hygiene with braces can be difficult, especially for teens whose oral hygiene may not be on the top of their to do list. Special care must be taken in order to clean teeth with braces.
It is best to brush after every meal. Using a floss threader or a special orthodontic floss is essential twice a day in order to clean between braces and under wires. Thorough checking is necessary in order to make sure that all food remnants are gone.
Braces can also be painful. With each dentist visit, wires that are used to move teeth into position are usually tightened. This can cause pressure on the teeth and some discomfort. Many teens would need to start eating soft foods and taking a pain reliever in order to relieve some of the pain. Also, braces can rub against the inside of the lips causing painful mouth sores. If this is a problem, a special wax can be placed on the wires to keep them from chafing.
With braces, many foods need to be avoided. Sweets, soda and other sugary and starchy foods are a given as they can promote tooth decay and gum disease. Teens usually cannot eat sticky and chewy foods such as caramels, taffy, and chewing gum. These foods can stick to their braces and be difficult to remove. Also, hard foods such as candy, nuts, apples, and popcorn are also not recommended for braces wearers. Biting and chewing these foods can break wires and damaging wires.
However, as Invisalign is becoming a more popular option for straightening teen teeth, less of these issues are apparent in the life of a teen. While many applaud the inconspicuous nature of Invisalign, there are many added benefits in comparison to traditional braces. Invisalign braces are easily taken out. Teens are able to eat without the Invisalign tray, which enables them to eat any food they like. They are also able to keep a normal cleaning routine in order to clean their teeth without any special floss. Finally, with Invisalign, pain is minimized after the first week and chafing is not an issue. Invisalign is a great option to minimize the dental issues that occur with braces.
While keeping good dental care is essential in all ages, this can be especially relevant for teenagers. As with adults, it is important that teenagers maintain a healthy diet. Sweetened foods and drinks, such as sodas and candy should be eaten at a minimum. Fruits and vegetables on the other hand should be a staple in the diet. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that contribute to stronger teeth. It is also important to drink plenty of water. Water helps neutralize the decay causing acid in many foods.
Make sure to limit between-meal snacks — especially those high in sugar for your teenager. Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance is essential though it is best to floss after every meal. This limits the time acid from food is exposed to the teen’s teeth. It is also important to floss at least once daily. This helps to eliminate particles that may be stuck between the teen’s teeth and are not easily removed by brushing. Finally regular dental checkups and cleanings are necessary for every teen. If there is a problem with your teen’s teeth, the dentist will be able to find it and help mitigate the situation before it worsens. By ignoring the issue , the teen might need a root canal or even worse, an implant with the loss of a tooth. Dentists will also give advise on how to take care of your teen’s teeth.
Contact our office today for a free consultation. Don’t hold back–straight teeth are now within your reach!