Teenagers have a lot of issues to think about and deal with everyday. School pressures, navigating social issues, and trying to figure out just where they fit in the grand scheme of things is enough for anyone to worry about. In light of this, one of the things that tends to get overlooked during this time of growth and change is that of dental health and oral hygiene. There are several factors to consider when talking about teens and oral health. Below is some information about the five most common dental problems facing teenagers.
Smoking and Drug Use
Along with all of the other pressures kids are facing, smoking and drug use are high on the list of things that can affect dental health. Aside from staining your teeth, smoking leads to gum disease and gingivitis as well as many other problems. It can inhibit healing of tissues in case of accident or tooth loss, and it is also one of the leading causes of oral cancers. Other drugs, such as methamphetamines, are known for causing severe periodontal disease including tooth and bone loss in the jaw.
Unfortunately, with the uptick in eating disorders in teens, there has been an increase in oral health problems as well. Common eating disorders such as bulimia can quickly erode the surface of teeth as stomach acids from induced vomiting can destroy tooth enamel. Additionally, other eating disorders can lead to malnourishment, causing bone and jaw problems. Proper nutrition is as important to oral health as it is to all other aspects of growth and development.
There’s not much to do to prevent wisdom teeth from coming in; they’ll come in when they’re ready. You can be on the lookout for signs and symptoms and take steps to deal with them when they do. Many people never get wisdom teeth, but some teens and young adults have trouble with crowding, pain, and even impaction. Talk to your dentist about monitoring the teeth before they erupt; they can often tell you what to expect based on your x-rays and have a plan. If you wear or have worn braces, you’ll want to play close attention. If your wisdom teeth come in and you don’t have the space for them, they can quickly undo years’ worth of orthodontic work.
Soda and Excess Sugar
Sports drinks, sodas, and other sugary treats can wreak havoc on your teeth, even if you’re brushing regularly. Sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth that produce acids, which in turn attack the enamel on your teeth, weakening the enamel and leading to tooth decay and cavities. Teenagers are notorious for snacking and consuming large quantities of soft drinks. If you’re going to indulge, make sure that you are at the very least rinsing your mouth with water frequently, and try to increase brushing and flossing to help get rid of the excess sugar.
You’d be surprised how many active teens involved in sports programs suffer from dental injuries. Chipped or broken teeth commonly occur from falls or from a blow to the face with a ball, bat or other sports equipment. While many sports require players to wear mouth guards for just that reason, there are plenty of activities that don’t stress the importance of taking care of your teeth. Consider these risks when deciding whether or not to invest in safety equipment for your mouth. In small children, it’s not as big a problem as deciduous teeth will be replaced, but once your permanent teeth are in, you’ll want to start taking steps to protect them.
This is a guest post by Kate Thora who works at BizSet.com as a Senior Content Specialist. She enjoys writing about the newest trends in the field of medicine.