As children grow into teenagers a great deal of lifestyle changes occur. Eating habits tend to change, oral hygiene responsibilities rest more often on the shoulders of the teen, and a host of less-than-ideal habits affecting the mouth are discovered. Although raising a teen can be extremely challenging at times, it is important for all parents and teens to be aware of the potential pitfalls that may jeopardize teenaged oral health.
Snacking and Brushing
The tweens and teens are in school more, discover a whole new world of foods called snacks, and simply can get their hands on unhealthy foods more than ever before. It is important to know that the frequency of snacking is directly related to a childs cavity risk. Furthermore, with all the distractions in teenage life, it is not uncommon for adolescents to brush their teeth even LESS than before. Snacking more and brushing less is a recipe for dental disaster! Regular visits to your pediatric dentist will allow everyone to work together to keep your teens teeth as healthy as possible.
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In the past, piercing was for earlobes. Nowadays, piercing of the face including the mouth/lips and tongue are not unheard of! Although keeping any pierced site clean can minimize health issues such as infection, you should be aware that oral piercing carries certain risks. First of all, piercing the lip or tongue results in a path of infection leading from the outside (skin) to the inside (oral mucosa). Infectious agents from the environment can use the pierced site to gain access to the rest of the body, leading to systemic infection. Unlike ear piercing, the site of an oral piercing represents a constantly open wound which makes the body much more susceptible to infection. Oral piercing also allows the many bacteria normally present in our mouths to take hold and cause rather serious infections of the mouth, face, and bloodstream. Pierced tongues are usually decorated with extravagant tongue studs or other hardware. Tongue studs have been known to rub constantly against the gums and the lower teeth and with time can cause gum recession and damage to the teeth.
Tobacco use remains a very prevalent, addictive, and destructive habit. Whether a person uses cigarettes, cigars, hookah pipes, or chewing tobacco, the use of tobacco carries health risks. Not only is the habit financially costly, but it also places the tobacco user at considerably higher risk for health problems including lung cancer, throat cancer, and oral cancer (cancer of the mouth). Furthermore, smoking changes the way saliva is produced in the mouth, and also reduces blood flow to the gums. Over time, these changes can contribute to the development of dental caries and gum disease. Your dentist plays an important role in educating patients, as well as identifying and treating oral problems that arise from tobacco use.
After about age 12, adolescents have lost all their primary teeth. There are no longer second changes if these teeth become injured. Not surprisingly, adolescent years are filled with very active lifestyles, whether it be organized athletics or everyday fun activities such as biking, snowboarding, and ball playing. All children and teenagers involved in sports should wear some form of mouth protection while engaged in sports activities. Because teenagers need to protect their permanent teeth, it is important for teenagers to wear mouthguards to prevent fracture and trauma to their teeth. The use of mouthguards can also reduce the risk of concussion. At GALLERY OF LITTLE SMILES, Dr. Lam can provide the most comfortable, most effective form of mouth protection in the form of a custom-made mouthguard. Custom mouthguards offer great functional protection. However, unlike retail mouthguards, custom mouthguards are less bulky and perfectly fit each patients dentition, allowing for optimal comfort. Mouthguards can be made with or without security straps as needed for the specific sport (i.e. football, hockey). In addition, patients can personalize their own custom mouthguard by choosing from an assortment of colors.