How to Navigate the Teen Years Part One
The teenage years are an exciting and trying time for teens and parents alike. Teens are allowed more freedom and with that comes responsibilities. Parents look on and hope their teens take the lessons they have taught them and continue to make good decisions about their health. During the teen years, there are dental issues parents and teens may need to work together, with their dental team, to ensure continued health and wellness into adulthood. There are plenty of dental issues to consider as your teen develops. In this two-part series we will explore several dental issues that may affect your teen.
The basic elements of oral hygiene continue to be important during the teen years. As teens become more self-aware (and sometimes self-conscious) it’s important they know how brush and floss their teeth with correct technique. It never hurts to freshen up on good habits. The American Dental Association urges parents and teens to talk about good brushing habits, flossing habits, and nutrition.
Orthodontics have been a teenage rite of passage for a long time. There are many options these days for teeth-straightening. Depending on your teen’s orthodontic issues, they may have a choice between traditional braces and clear aligner therapy.
Traditional braces are a tried-and-true solution for many issues teens face:
- Crooked teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- Open bite
- And more
They make traditional braces of metal brackets and wires and work by slowly guiding the teeth and jawbones into a proper biting position. The benefits of traditional braces are that they are predictable and affordable.
Clear aligners are another option for teenage teeth-straightening. Clear aligners are thin plastic coverings that are removable. They work by slowly shifting teeth by changing aligners every few weeks. Teens love clear aligners since they can remove them for eating, drinking, and for prom photos. They are also discreet and easy to care for.
Healthy habits will serve your teen well for years to come. They may also feel more personally responsible for the condition of their teeth. Help your teen take charge of their oral health by educating them on proper brushing, flossing and nutrition. If they need orthodontic work, include them in the decision-making process. In the next part of this two-part series, we will look at the teen-topics of bad breath, mouth guards and wisdom teeth. Stay tuned!
The teenage years are exciting and challenging all at once. As parents of teens it’s a new challenge to navigate their increasing independence, while also providing parental guidance on important issues. One issue your teen will enjoy guidance is on their oral health. Maybe they come to you embarrassed about their bad breath. Perhaps their football coach requires a mouth guard, and they don’t know where to find one. Or maybe they are asking for teeth whitening before Prom? Maybe their wisdom teeth come in and your dentist recommends extraction. All these issues require good communication between you, your teen, and your dental professional.
Bad breath can be embarrassing for anyone but can be especially for teens. The American Dental Association lists 6 culprits that can cause bad breath:
- Dry Mouth
- Gum Disease
- Medical Conditions
If your teen has bad breath that doesn’t resolve by brushing and flossing alone, you may want to seek professional advice. Your teen may be taking a medication causing dry mouth, or may be experiencing an ear, nose, or throat condition causing bad breath.
Mouth guards are an important part of your teen’s safety. If they participate in contact sports of any kind, a mouth guard can help protect their teeth and gums from potential injury. While do it yourself mouth guards can be purchased over the counter, a professionally made mouth guard is generally recommended. If your teen is participating in sports, consult your dentist about getting a mouth guard specifically designed for your teen. If your teen has braces, a mouthguard is especially important.
Wisdom teeth, sometimes called third molars are the last of the teeth to come through; usually between the ages of 17-21. Sometimes, wisdom teeth are problematic for teens. If there isn’t enough room in the mouth for them, they can cause crowding. Or, if they come in at the wrong angle and are impacted, your dentist may suggest wisdom teeth extraction. The American Dental Association describes the following instances where you may need to have your teen’s wisdom teeth removed:
- Pain in the jaw or gums
- Infection around the tooth
- If they cause damage or crowding
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth decay that cannot be repaired or isn’t desirable to repair
Your teen’s dentist may also suggest wisdom teeth extraction if they are interfering with orthodontics.
With big events like Prom and graduation, your teen may ask you about teeth whitening. While over-the-counter options might be tempting, having a professional whiten your teen’s teeth is preferred. While you may spend a little more on professional whitening, you will have the peace of mind your teen is in good hands and their teeth are healthy enough for teeth whitening. If you have questions about teeth whitening or any other procedure for your teen, simply give White Spruce Dental a call.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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