Daily brushing and flossing and limiting sugary food and beverages are always at the top of good dental practices regardless of age. The tween and teen years do highlight some special concerns and Dr. Douglas Ng, a dentist in San Luis Obispo, CA is pleased to bring these concerns to the attention of parents and teens.
The late teen years are the time that wisdom teeth begin to erupt through the gums, often causing pain and complications. Wisdom teeth come in between 17 and 21 years and they often do not have enough room to completely grow in. Problems can include pain, infection, tooth decay, gum disease and damage to adjacent teeth. The dentist may recommend removing them to prevent more problems, or when removal is part of getting braces.
Along with problematic wisdom teeth, the teen years are often the time kids get braces, start smoking, getting mouth jewelry, and participating more assertively in sports.
- The tween and teen years are often the time of life when kids get braces and extra attention is required to maintain a healthy mouth. Follow the dentist and hygienist’s instructions to the letter and keep all of your appointments. The dentist may recommend avoiding foods that might break or bend the wires, such as nuts, popcorn, or sticky foods.
- Smoking is a very unhealthy habit for all of the body, not just the mouth. Along with causing bad breath, and ultimately contributing to heart and lung disease, smoking contributes to gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer. Tobacco stains teeth and even the tongue, dulls the sense of taste and smell, and contributes to slow healing after dental procedures.
- Oral piercings and tongue splitting don’t really look that cool, and might be dangerous to health. The mouth contains millions of bacteria and piercings and tongue splitting can easily become infected, resulting in serious complications such as hepatitis or endocaritis. Jewelry inside the mouth damages tooth enamel and can chip and even break teeth.
- Wear a mouth guard during any sport including skateboarding or snowboarding. Mouth guards help protect your teeth from being broken or knocked out and cushion blows that could damage the lips, face, and jaw. Ask your San Luis Obispo dentist for the best mouth guard.
Other issues that can surface with teens include eating disorders and drug addictions. Early signs of certain eating disorders or substance addictions can also show up in the mouth.
- The stomach acids from repeated vomiting erode tooth enamel, especially on the inside of the teeth.
- “Meth Mouth,” a term describing the stained, rotting and crumbling teeth associated with methamphetamine use, happens much more quickly than the same symptoms from bad oral hygiene habits.
- Other drug use and addictions can contribute to a wide variety of oral health problems including teeth grinding, dry mouth, neglecting oral health, tooth loss and gum disease.
The dentist is often the first adult to observe oral symptoms of eating disorders and addictions. It is important for parents to get teens to the dentist for regular examinations and to keep regular communications open about teens’ oral health.
Prevention is the best practice and good oral hygiene habits and good nutrition are the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Dr. Ng uses examinations, dental imaging and study models to analyze your oral health and needs. Dr. Ng applies all of today’s dental science and technology at his disposal to improve and maintain oral health and sparkling smiles for the entire family.
Douglas Ng, D.D.S.
862 Meinecke Ave #203
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405