Oral health tips for teens

Maintaining oral hygiene is key throughout the teenage years.

The teenage years are a time of change, and it’s essential that oral hygiene and preventative care remain priorities during this stage of life. We know it can be difficult to balance school, social life and health, so we’ve put together some tips for keeping teeth and gums in tip-top shape, no matter what your teen has going on…

How to eat a healthy, balanced diet

Tooth decay is, unfortunately, a fairly common problem in children and teenagers. In fact, research shows that tooth decay is more common than asthma in teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 years old.

Nutrition plays an important role in oral health and the prevention of tooth decay, so try and encourage your teenager to make good choices. Calcium-rich foods like cheese and natural yoghurt make great snacks, because they help to strengthen the enamel of the teeth. Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, celery and carrots are also a good option because they are high in fibre and help to stimulate both the gums and the production of saliva in the mouth. Another nutritious snack, almonds are low in sugar and are an excellent source of protein and calcium.

While your teenager may be tempted to snack on sugary treats, these should be enjoyed in moderation only. Poor dietary habits and frequent snacking on sugary foods can increase the risk of tooth decay considerably. Try and lead by example and make healthy food choices as a family.

How to treat gingivitis

It’s no secret that teenagers experience a number of physical changes as they mature, and their oral health is no different. In fact, gingivitis is more common in teens than in children and adults, and the condition is most likely caused by increased sex hormones during puberty.

Gingivitis refers to an inflammation of the gums and if left untreated, can lead to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease. Some of the most common symptoms of gingivitis include swollen and tender gums; gums that bleed when brushing and flossing; receding gums; loose teeth; tooth sensitivity; bad breath; and changes to the alignment of one’s bite.

The best way to keep gingivitis under control is to practice good oral hygiene. Encourage your teenager to brush twice a day and to floss daily. It’s also a good idea to bring them in for a dental check-up every six months. Regular visits to the dentist can go a long way in preventing small issues from turning into much bigger problems in the long run. We’ll also perform a scale and clean to remove any plaque that has built up over time.

How does smoking affect your teeth?

As teenagers start to enjoy more freedom, many begin to experiment with habits like smoking and drinking. Unfortunately, these lifestyle choices can have some serious consequences on both oral and overall health. Smoking increases the risk of oral cancers as well as gum disease, and causes cosmetic issues like stains and discolouration.

Drinking alcohol can also be detrimental to oral health. Excess consumption of alcohol is a risk factor for oral cancer, while the sugar content in many drinks can also increase the chances of tooth decay. Alcohol also tends to lead to dehydration, which can decrease the production of saliva, allowing bacteria to stick to the enamel of the teeth.

We encourage you to talk to your teenagers about the health effects of smoking and alcohol and to discuss these issues with them.

If your teenager has any oral health issues they would like addressed, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange a consultation. Regular dental visits are essential at all stages of life, and we offer dentistry services to the whole family. For more information on the general dentistry services that we offer, and what to expect at a dental check-up, take a look here.