The adolescent years are a time of many changes, including changes to the jaw and teeth. With jobs, friends, school, peer pressure, and sports to worry about, your teen may forget about the importance of good oral hygiene.
Here, we’ll cover the best way to help keep your teen’s smile healthy and bright so you can set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.
The Best Oral Hygiene Tips for Teens
Here are a few tips to help your teen maintain a healthy smile as they transition to adulthood:
- Set a good example for your teen by taking care of your teeth. Be sure to see your dentist for regular checkups and follow a good oral hygiene routine.
- Help your teenager take good care of his or her teeth by reminding them to brush at least twice a day and floss every day. If anything, appeal to your teen’s vanity. While your teen may not care about decay or gum health, they will likely listen to warnings about missing teeth, stained teeth, or bad breath caused by poor dental hygiene.
- Keep oral hygiene supplies on hand, including their favourite type of dental floss (find out which colours or flavours they prefer), soft-bristled toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
Involving your teen in picking out the type of toothbrush, toothpaste, or floss they prefer will increase the likelihood of them sticking to a good oral hygiene routine. If your teen is often on the go, you may want to consider putting flossing tools right in their backpack so they are always prepared.
- Talk with your teens about the health risks associated with smoking, vaping, and tobacco use. Along with stained, yellow teeth, tobacco use can cause mouth cancer, decay, tooth loss, and other serious health complications.
- Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy foods and snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and homemade trail mix rather than filling your shelves with junk food. This will help limit your teen’s intake of sugar and help keep their teeth protected against decay.
- Do not keep soft drinks in your house.
- Encourage your teen not to chew on pens or ice cubes or bite their nails as these habits can damage their teeth, especially if they have braces.
- Remind your teen to be careful when chewing sticky, hard foods such as popcorn, candy, taffy, or caramels.
Common Oral Health Issues Faced by Teens
As teens grow, there are common oral health issues they may face. It is helpful to understand what oral health issues may occur and why. This will prepare you to share your knowledge with your teen and be ready for any questions they may have.
It can be helpful to remind your teen that many of these oral health issues are a normal part of growing up.
Here are some of the common oral health issues you may need to discuss with your teen:
- Braces — Along with aesthetic reasons, straight teeth that are aligned properly promote gum health, balance the facial appearance, reduce the chances of chipping a tooth, and are easier to clean. Proper teeth alignment can also correct bite issues such as an overbite or crossbite.
- Oral Piercings — Has your teen expressed interest in a tongue, cheek, uvula, or lip piercing? It is important to make them aware of the potential risks of oral piercings, including fractured teeth, pain, gum recession, speech impairment, and aspirated jewellery. If needed, your dentist can discuss these issues with your teen, educate them on the potential hazards of oral piercings, and answer their questions.
- Wisdom Teeth — Wisdom teeth, or third molars, do not emerge until the late teen years, or sometimes the early 20s. Your teen needs to attend regular dental checkups so your dentist can monitor wisdom tooth eruption and make sure the wisdom teeth are not impacted. If needed, a wisdom tooth extraction will be performed.
- Bad breath — Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is usually a result of bacteria growth on the tongue. Remind your teen that regular brushing — of their teeth and their tongue — along with flossing and using mouthwash can keep their breath smelling fresh and clean. If your teen has concerns about bad breath, be sure to bring it up with your dentist.
- Stained Teeth — If your teen is concerned about stained or yellowed teeth, there are a variety of teeth whitening options. Your dentist can advise you on the best teeth whitening options for your teen. Options may include whitening toothpaste recommendations, an in-office whitening procedure, or a professional take-home whitening kit.
- Tobacco Side Effects – Teens who use tobacco products expose their mouths and teeth to toxins that can cause discolouration, gum disease, cancer, tooth loss, and bad breath.
Teen Sports & Dental Health
Certain sports and activities put the mouth, jaw, lips, gums, and teeth at risk of damage. A mouthguard covers the upper teeth to decrease damage to the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth in the event of an impact. If your teen plays contact sports, consider having them wear a mouthguard.
It is especially important to consider wearing a mouthguard if your teens play the following sports:
Mouthguards can significantly reduce your teen’s risk of a chipped tooth, lacerations to the cheeks or lips, or getting a tooth knocked out completely. Ask your dentist for mouthguard recommendations for your teen.
Tips on How to Brush and Floss with Braces
Good oral hygiene is always important, but it becomes even more crucial if your teen wears braces. Make sure your teen brushes and flosses every day if they have braces.
To care for braces, remind your teen to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. Instruct your teen to be gentle when caring for their braces and to pay extra attention to the brackets of the braces where food and debris often get stuck.
Ask your dentist about the best ways to brush and floss if your teen has braces. It is imperative that your teen does not chew on non-food objects and avoids sticky, chewy foods such as gum or taffies.
Wisdom Teeth Surgery for Teens
If your teen has impacted wisdom teeth, your dentist will likely recommend a wisdom tooth extraction. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of oral health issues, including infection or damage to surrounding teeth.
For more information on wisdom teeth surgery, including what to expect and tips for recovering from wisdom tooth removal, check out this guide.
Teen Dental Care At 123 Dental — Your Trusted Perth Family Dentist
The teen years are a critical time to maintain good oral health. Supporting your teen by reminding them to brush and floss every day, taking them for regular dental checkups, and encouraging them to stay away from tobacco use sets them up to enjoy a healthy smile for a lifetime.
At 123 Dental, we pride ourselves on being a true family dental practice. We enjoy working with patients of all ages and make a point to get to know each of our patients by name. Whether you or your teen needs dental services, our team can provide quality, professional service for all of your family’s dental needs.
Do you have questions about your teen’s oral health or need advice? Our friendly team of dental professionals is here to help. Contact us anytime with questions or to schedule a consultation.