The professional blog of Doctors Dan Bruce, Steve Bruce, Rosa Pothier and Rob Ririe
Teens and Oral Health
Teenagers and Oral Health Challenges
The back to school season makes life crazy for everyone. How does this affect oral health for teenagers?
It’s a crazy time! With so much to think about, it’s important that proper and thorough brushing and flossing is not lost in the morning routine. This is going to be even more critical for teenagers because at this age hormonal changes put them at higher risk for cavities. Additionally this is also when they start making a lot more of their own choices when it comes to their diets. Aside from what they eat, what they drink is really going to come into play. As we all know, teenagers love their sugary drinks whether it is coffee drinks, energy drinks, or sodas. Sodas can be particularly harmful due to the devastating effects of acidity and high sugar content on the teeth. Having good conversations about this with your teenager and educating and monitoring their intake is going to be critical for maintaining healthy habits.
It’s also the age when dentists start looking at a kid’s wisdom teeth right?
Absolutely. Wisdom teeth generally start coming in between the ages of 16 or 17 and are usually fully erupted by age 21. Unfortunately more often than not, there isn’t enough room for these teeth in the mouth leading to problems such as crowding, decay, and gum problems around the teeth. Addressing these teeth at a young age will avoid a lot of problems down the road. Ask your dentist to evaluate the timing of wisdom teeth extractions and best options for your child.
What other oral health issues might teenagers confront?
Another thing we might be looking at around this age is the possibility of braces. Addressing things like crowding or issues with their bite will be best and most effective to do while they’re young. It’s also a time when kids can be very conscious about their appearance so braces can have a very positive impact on their self-esteem. In addition to that, whitening may be something your child is interested in as well. There are various different options including over the counter kits or a custom whitening from the dental office. Your dentist would be able to go through these options with you and your teenager and determine which might be best for you depending on your child’s unique situation and desires.
One last thing I want to touch on is grinding. Teenagers do experience a lot of stress and grinding may be one way that stress manifests itself. If you notice that your teenager or a child of any age is grinding, it is important that you discuss this with your physician and/or dentist in order to determine both the cause of it and the best treatment. Grinding can not only be devastating to the integrity of the teeth but can also be an indicator of other health problems including sleep apnea. Studies show that sleep apnea, grinding and acid reflux can all be connected so addressing these issues will be imperative for not only your child’s oral health but also his or hers overall disposition and even success at school.