Tooth care for teens: brushing and bad breath
The teen years are key to a lifetime of good oral health. But hormonal changes, new dietary habits, and experimentation with tobacco and alcohol can make them a challenge. It’s important to teach teens about the risks to their teeth, as well as about how to keep their mouth healthy and build a relationship with their dentist or dental hygienist. A closer look at teens and dental health.
The inside skinny on dental care for teens
- Good daily habits are the key to maintaining a healthy mouth as a teen:
- That means brushing regularly: 2 to 3 times a day for 3 minutes each time, using a soft-bristled toothbrush,
- Regular appointments with a dentist or dental hygienist for a dental check-up, to identify issues like periodontitis and cavities,
- An annual teeth cleaning,
- A balanced, low-sugar diet.
Good tooth care for teens
A healthy teen’s mouth should have:
- pink gums,
- no swelling,
- no bleeding when brushing.
The hormonal changes teens experience can affect their gums, and any dental plaque in their mouth makes the situation worse.
Swelling, redness, sensitivity, and spontaneous bleeding can occur. That’s not normal, but their mouth can bounce back fast with better care, including good daily care habits like brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
Toothbrushes can’t clean the contact surfaces between teeth, or the space between teeth and gums so those areas are at high risk of cavities and gum disease. Flossing is the only way to clean them.
And the crevices on our tongues hold onto dead cells, dental plaque, and food particles that can only be removed by brushing or a tongue scraper.
Healthy eating for teens: mission impossible?
Focus on a balanced diet
Teens still need to eat plenty of dairy products and foods from all the major food groups. Fruit, veggies, and some kinds of cheese are great snacks. It’s also important to avoid sugary foods, sodas, and refined carbs in general.
Eating sugary foods, especially without brushing right away, triggers acid production, which leads to the first stage of dental cavity formation. And the more often you eat sugar, the further that damage to your tooth enamel can extend toward the inside of your tooth (dentin and pulp) and the bigger the cavity gets.
More information: www.sge-ssn.ch
Energy drinks might sound healthy, but they are actually extremely high in sugar and cause cavities and dental erosion. You wouldn’t let your teen eat unlimited sugary and sticky foods – it’s important to limit their energy drink intake, too. And if they do have an energy drink sometimes, brushing immediately afterward is key.
An annual dental check-up with a hygienist is essential
Teens need a dental check-up every six to twelve months to catch cavities and gum disease early and identify other issues like lesions or problems with their wisdom teeth.
At Clinique Hygiène Dentaire, we offer personalized advice, preventive techniques, and treatments on a custom schedule tailored to your teen’s needs.
Tooth care for teens: are mouth piercings safe?
Mouth piercings are popular with teens, but a piercing in their cheek, tongue, or lip can rub against their teeth and gums, causing tooth wear or even a broken tooth, as well as gum irritation, bleeding, and recession.
Piercings can also become a gateway for dangerous bacteria, causing infections that can affect your teen’s entire body and leave long-term damage.
Mouth piercings can be a serious dental health risk for teens.
Teen smoking: a dental health risk?
Smoking causes dental problems for both teens and adults. How much damage it does to their teeth and mouth depends on what they smoke and how often they smoke it.
75% of smokers who want to quit will need help. Like all medical professionals, a dental hygienist can provide support and resources if your teen needs help quitting.
The effects of smoking show up in the mouth first, so we give smokers a full update on their oral health at each visit.
More information: www.stop-tabac.ch
Fixing bad breath (halitosis) in teens
Just like adults, teens can experience bad breath, or halitosis. It can be occasional or chronic, which means that it persists despite good tooth care habits. Hormonal changes and certain medications and medical conditions can cause bad breath.
But most of the causes of bad breath can be found right in your teen’s mouth, including inadequate tooth care, dental problems (cavities, abscesses, gum disease, etc.), mouth breathing, tobacco use, and certain foods.
If your teen has bad breath, they can take a few simple steps to get rid of it:
- good daily tooth care,
- a healthy lifestyle,
- regular professional dental cleanings and other care, which eliminate most causes of bad breath.
If those simple solutions don’t fix the issue, we recommend talking to your CHD hygienist.
Teeth whitening for teens
Is your teen self-conscious about the color of their teeth? If the discoloration was caused by soda or tobacco use, a teeth cleaning should remove it.
But healthy teens with mature, healthy teeth can also use whitening treatments. Results will vary depending on the original color of their teeth and how they respond to the whitening product.
Before starting a treatment, the hygienist will explain all the risks, benefits, side effects, appropriate hygiene tips, etc.
Orthodontics for teens: an inevitable rite of passage?
Orthodontists often start treatments during the teen years to keep them as short as possible. The goal is to prevent future tooth and jaw problems before they develop. Orthodontics are increasingly common, but it’s important to have an honest conversation with your dentist and orthodontist because not all treatments are truly necessary.
Good tooth care is extra important when your teen is going through orthodontic treatments. Special orthodontic toothbrushes are available to eliminate dental plaque more thoroughly, and some teens will do better with an electric toothbrush. We also recommend using interdental brushes to clean under and around their braces. You and your teen deserve the best advice – your dental hygienist is there to help!
Wisdom teeth removal for teens
If your teen has wisdom teeth (third molars), they should erupt between ages 17 and 21, or even as late as 25. Wisdom teeth often need to be removed because they are poorly positioned or just don’t have enough space to come in.
Tooth sealants for teens
Adult molars have ridges and grooves on the top of their teeth. Food residue and dental plaque often get stuck in there, which can cause cavities. Once your teen’s adult premolars and second molars have come in, at around age 11 to 15, your dentist or hygienist may recommend sealants if they are deeply grooved. Sealants, which are applied by a dental hygienist, can prevent cavities on the chewing surface – as long as they are paired with good tooth care habits.