H. E. Henry, DDS, INC. 200 Saint Thomas Dr. Weirton, WV 26062.3844
GENERAL DENTISTRY Children and Adults 304.723.7200

Children’s Dental Health: 12 – 18 Years Old

  • Cavities aren’t just for little kids—they can occur at any age. When sugary foods and drinks, sodas, juice, or energy drinks are consumed, oral health is at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, and general health is at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
  • Maintain regular professional dental visits. Dental professionals can monitor problems with tooth development, alignment and crowding, tooth decay, congenitally missing teeth, proper brushing and flossing, proper nutrition, and tooth and mouth infections. Gingivitis, an inflammatory gum response to plaque on the teeth may occur more readily in children at puberty. This can cause swollen, red, tender and bleeding gums. It is usually easily treated with professional intervention.
  • Insist on professionally applied fluoride treatments to keep enamel strong.
  • Fluoridated water is the recommended beverage.
  • Avoid sugary chewing gum. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruit; avoid suckers, sticky candies, fruit chews, and sports drinks, energy drinks, and soda.
  • Encourage your teenager to take proper care of his teeth. This means flossing once a day and regular and thorough brushing twice a day for at least two minutes after breakfast and before bedtime with a fluoride toothpaste. Children do not usually need tartar control, whitening, or sensitivity toothpaste.
  • Fluoride mouth rinses such as Fluorigard Rinse or Act Kids Fluoride Rinse are helpful products to keep enamel hard and acid resistant.
  • Teenagers care a lot about how they look. Help your teen understand that bad oral hygiene can lead to stains, bad breath, missing teeth and many other dental problems. Bad breath, or halitosis, usually comes from bacteria that form on the tongue. In many cases, a simple change in your teen’s personal oral hygiene habits can help.
  • Set a good example. If you take good care of your teeth, your teenager will see that good oral hygiene is important to you and warnings will not seem hypocritical.
  • Have plenty of oral health-care supplies on hand including soft toothbrushes, flavored floss or plastic flossers, and favorite fluoride toothpaste. Don’t buy junk food. Instead, keep lots of fruits and vegetables in the house for snacking.
  • Talk to your teens about the dangers of all forms of tobacco and the oral health hazards it can cause.
  • Social pressures can contribute to tobacco use and oral piercings. It is important for parents to present the dangers so their teens know the consequences of their choices.
  • Oral piercings of the lip can cause chipped teeth and permanent gum recession. Pierced tongues can cause blood, brain, and tongue infections, chipped teeth, permanent gum recession, swallowed or aspirated jewelry, and speech impairment.
  • Application of dental sealants, (coatings in the grooves and on the biting surface of posterior teeth) can be effective cavity prevention as soon as posterior teeth erupt, usually ages 6, 12, and 18.
  • Think prevention! Dental injuries in teens are often sports related. It’s always important to wear a mouth guard when playing sports like basketball, soccer, football and hockey, or recreational activities like biking, skateboarding, and inline skating to prevent traumatic injuries to the mouth, jaws, and teeth.
  • Braces are about more than a pretty smile. Straight teeth also are easier to clean, promote healthy gums, give a balanced facial appearance and are less likely to get chipped. Good oral hygiene is especially important for people wearing orthodontic braces to avoid decalcification marks that may remain after the brackets are removed.
  • Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, don’t always have enough room to emerge during the late teens to early 20’s. Impacted wisdom teeth (ones that can’t erupt normally) can damage nearby teeth or cause infection and may require special care or removal.
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