Thanks to modern dental technology, water fluoridation and an increased awareness of dental health, many of today's teens will be fortunate enough to have no tooth decay or fillings.However, this can produce a false sense of security and a feeling of invincibility for many teenagers, who may believe their perfect dental health record will continue without any special effort.
Because teenagers have all their permanent adult teeth – the teeth they must maintain for the rest of their life – the importance of looking after their teeth at this stage cannot be underestimated.
FREE regular dental checks
Remember, teens between the ages of 13 and 18 are entitled to receive free basic dental care. Dentalcare West can provide this service which includes an examination, cleaning, preventative treatment and education and encouragement to continue to good oral health practices.
With the full eruption of all the permanent teeth, you will now know whether orthodontic treatment will be necessary or not. Our dental professionals, Dr Scott Waghorn, Dr James Philpott, Dr Elvira Beliak, Dr Inah Mundy, Dr Talha Gul, Dr Aaron Lee or Dr Jason Koo can give you expert guidance on whether you or your child would benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Having straight teeth should not be thought of as a purely aesthetic or cosmetic concern, but also as a functional concern. The primary problem is that crooked teeth are much harder to keep clean and therefore are at an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Jaw problems can cause headaches and pain jaw muscles. Most teenagers will have had an orthodontic evaluation by now, but if they haven't, now is the time to seek advice.
Find out more about caring for braces here.
Diet and drinks
A well balanced diet is important, and particularly the avoidance of sugary foods and drinks between meals. One of the biggest enemies of our teeth is sugar, especially sugary drinks. Sports drinks are particularly popular amongst teens, however their use needs to be controlled as they are very acidic and cause increased tooth decay and sensitivity.
If your teen is playing sport, the use of a mouthguard to protect their teeth is vitally important. Any sport where there is a risk of contact to the mouth, either by a ball or contact with another person, requires the use of a mouthguard. We recommend the use of a professionally fitted mouthguard which provides the best protection possible. A mouthguard will also lessen the risk of concussion should you receive a heavy knock to the head.
Unfortunately, it is during the teenage years that many adolescents will begin to smoke. Of course, the best advice is not to start in the first place. Initially smoking will lead to stained and yellow teeth and cause bad breath. Long-term use has been shown to increase the effect of gum disease and also lead to an increased risk of not only lung cancer but also oral cancers.
Teenagers are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders, particularly anorexia and bulimia. The reason teeth are at risk is due to vomiting. When a person vomits they bring up stomach acids, which can severely damage the teeth by eroding away the tooth enamel. A visit to the dentist is important to help minimise the effect of the stomach acids on teeth. A dentist can't treat the actual disorder, but may recommend the use of fluoride rinses and special toothpastes to help lessen the damage to the teeth.