How Does Adolescence Affect Dental Health? Here’s What You Need to Know About Your Teen’s Teeth

Raising a teenager comes with its own challenges and worries. Oral health can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list when it comes to your child’s adolescent years, especially as your teen becomes more independent and you’re no longer able to monitor their dental health like you did when they were a child.

However, teenagers need to care for their smiles just as much as, if not more than, adults. Changes in the body during puberty as well as a teenager’s lifestyle and emerging individuality and freedom can give them more pressing oral health concerns. How exactly does adolescence affect dental health?

Teens May Be at Higher Risk for Tooth Decay

Teens may not take the best care of their teeth, especially if they’re overwhelmed with school, sports, homework, and other social activities. Tooth decay is unfortunately common in teenagers, so getting a checkup and cleaning with your Asheville dentist every six months is good idea.

Your dentist can spot problems before they have a change to fully develop, which can prevent cavities and gum disease. Encouraging your teenager to brush and floss every day is important for their oral health. In their childhood years, you’ll have established a routine of brushing, and you can and should encourage them to continue with the routine even as they become more independent and develop their own rituals and habits!

Changes in Dietary Habits Can Influence Oral Bacteria

According to research, 80 percent of teenagers in the United States have a less than ideal dietary intake. Teens are at particular risk to develop unhealthy eating habits as they tend to gravitate towards convenient foods, and some may not know how to cook healthy, wholesome foods to support their health.

Adolescents often consume too much sugar in the form of sodas and sports drinks. Other popular foods for teens include those that can be detrimental to oral health, including candy, granola bars, chips, and other processed foods.

Teens can experience an increased risk of oral health issues due to the bacteria changes that come with eating the wrong kinds of foods think refined sugars and flours.

We know it can be challenging to control your teen’s diet, but you can encourage them to eat healthy, and you can also help prevent damage to their teeth by bringing them in for regular teeth cleanings! 

Shifting Hormones Affect Gum Health

Puberty brings an increase in certain hormones that can lead to changes in gum tissue. Fluctuating and increasing levels of estrogen and testosterone that influence puberty can cause symptoms that mimic those of gum disease, including bleeding, sensitive, and red gums.

Your teen could also have gingivitis, the beginning stages of gum disease. Girls are slightly more at risk than boys to develop sensitive gum tissue during this time, but boys are affected as well. For many teens, these symptoms are temporary, but for others, they can lead to periodontal (gum) disease that needs to be addressed by your dentist! 

Encourage Your Teen to Take Extra Care When Cleaning Their Teeth With Braces

Millions of teenagers are currently getting orthodontic work done, whether in the form of metal braces or clear aligner systems. If your child has metal braces, they need to take extra care when cleaning their teeth, as it’s easier for plaque to build up underneath orthodontic brackets and wires.

You may need to purchase supplemental oral care items for your child, such as interdental flossers to get underneath their braces when cleaning. Keeping up with oral health while receiving orthodontic treatment with metal braces is essential to preventing issues such as gum disease, which teens are at an increased risk for with orthodontia! 

Never Overlook a Mouthguard to Protect Your Teen’s Smile

Many teenagers today are active in sports, especially sports that carry a risk for injury, including football, basketball, and soccer. When your child is playing sports such as these whether or not they have braces they need to be wearing a mouthguard.

Not only do most sports require some type of mouthguard to play on the team, but they can be instrumental in protecting your child’s teeth and gums from injury. In fact, some evidence shows that custom-made mouthguards may even help absorb an impact, and could even reduce your child’s risk for concussions, more so than a store-bought mouthguard.

You could buy a mouthguard at the store, but investing in a custom mouthguard is always your best bet. Over-the-counter mouthguards are not made for your child’s specific smile, and don’t provide the level of protection that custom mouthguards do.

Your dentist in Asheville can custom make your child a mouthguard that will last for many sports seasons to protect their teeth and prevent a dental emergency!

Be on the Lookout for Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth generally don’t emerge until your child’s latter teenage years (ages 17-21), but you can and should still be aware of their emergence. If your teen complains of a bad taste in their mouth, pain, or other discomfort, it could be time to schedule dental x-rays to determine where the wisdom teeth are and if they are coming in properly.

While most people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed, not everyone will. Your professional dentist can let you know if your teen’s incoming wisdom teeth will be harmful to their smiles as they develop!

Schedule a Checkup With Us at Saunders DDS

Keeping your teen’s teeth healthy takes more than a reminder for them to eat nutritious foods and brush their teeth every day! Schedule a checkup for your teen with us at Saunders DDS. We’re a family-friendly dental practice that can fully assess your child’s smile for any issues, and we prioritize preventative care to ensure the healthiest smile possible with minimal need for intervention. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at (828) 277-6060, or click here to request an appointment!

Unlock your teen’s confident smile today! Book an appointment with Saunders DDS for expert guidance on adolescence and dental health. Please take advantage of it. Schedule now!