Dental Care for Teens

At Alexandria Children's Dentistry we recognize that as children grow to become teenagers, their attitude toward dental care may change. Cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants continue to be extremely important preventive measures, as well as monitoring face and jaw changes.

Appearance, straight teeth, white teeth, and fresh breath may become significant to a teen.  Teens also snack frequently and often junk food and sugary drinks tend to become a major part of their diet. We help guide your teen to choose healthy snack alternatives.
 
At Alexandria Children's Dentistry we care about your teen! Read below our views on various dental topics relating to teens:

Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a major problem, especially as a teen. Bad breath adversely affects teenagers' self-esteem. The good news is that bad breath can often be prevented with some simple steps. Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. When they don't brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in their mouth and between their teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make their breath smell.

Certain foods, especially ones like garlic and onions that contain pungent oils, can contribute to bad breath because the oils are carried to your lungs and out through your mouth. Smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.

Our office will review with your teen ways to prevent bad breath.

Oral Piercing 

At Alexandria Children's Dentistry, we support The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's guideline on intraoral piercing. We highly discourage the practice of oral piercing.  There are a number of health-related risks associated with oral piercing, including:

1. Infections. The wound created by piercing, the huge amount of bacteria that’s already present in the mouth, and the introduction of even more bacteria from handling the jewelry all significantly increase the risk for infections.

2. Transmission of diseases. Oral piercing is a potential risk factor for the transmission of herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B and C.

3. Endocarditis. Because of the wound created by the piercing, there is a chance that bacteria could enter the bloodstream and lead to the development of endocarditis -- an inflammation of the heart valves -- in certain people with heart problems (even some heart problems that are undiagnosed).

4. Nerve damage/prolonged bleeding. Numbness or loss of sensation at the site of the piercing can occur if nerves have been damaged. If blood vessels are punctured, prolonged bleeding can occur. Tongue swelling following piercing can be severe enough to block the airway and cause breathing difficulties.

5. Gum disease. People with oral piercings have a greater risk of gum disease than those without oral piercings. The jewelry can come into contact with the gum tissue causing injury as well as a gum recession which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

6. Damage to teeth. Teeth that come into contact with mouth jewelry can chip or crack.

7. Difficulties in daily oral functions. Tongue piercing can result in difficulty chewing, swallowing food, and speaking clearly.

8. Allergic reaction to metal. A hypersensitivity reaction to the metal in the jewelry can occur in susceptible people.

Nutrition

Nutrition plays a key role in your teen's dental health. The sugars and starches in many snack foods and drinks support the formation of plaque, which destroys tooth enamel. Your teen should limit the number of snacks they eat and drink--each time they consume foods and drinks that contain sugars or starches, their teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more. Eating a well-balanced diet from the five food groups can make a big difference in their dental health. For snacks, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or fruit.

Smoking

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death. The most powerful predictor of adult smoking is smoking during adolescence.  Studies show that if people do not begin to use tobacco during adolescence, there is a good chance they never will. At Alexandria Children's Dentistry, we are devoted to both the prevention of smoking, as well as providing a smoking cessation program for your teen if they have picked up the habit of smoking.  We will educate your teen about the various dangers and side effects of smoking. We also our trained to look for signs of oral cancer and we will treat and/or refer for the necessary care.

Custom Fitted Whitening Trays

At Alexandria Children's Dentistry, our whitening trays are made from a thin rubber type material. The trays are custom made and fit comfortably in the mouth and are held in place by natural suction. Whitening products for use with the custom fitted tray are available for purchase Alexandria Children's Dentistry. Whitening is usually more appropriate for older children and teens.  We will decide whether your teen is a candidate for whitening.  Side effects are minimal, though in some instances, teeth may become sensitive or the gums may be irritated.

Eating Disorders

All eating disorders have health risks; the advanced cases may even lead to death. Eating disorders associated with vomiting can erode the teeth because of stomach acid in the mouth. Other side effects of eating disorders are browning of the teeth, increased cavities, and thinning of the tooth enamel. If you suspect your child may have an eating disorder, talk with them, talk to your physician, or please talk with us about your concerns as soon as possible. We are truly here to help and can often detect signs of eating disorders simply by doing our routine examination.

Gum Disease

Gum disease causes red swollen gums, bleeding of the gums tissues and bad breath. It is especially important for teenagers to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once per day, eat a balanced diet, limit between meal snacks and visit us regularly for cleanings and check-ups. 

Wisdom Teeth (3rd Year Molars)

Wisdom teeth are valuable to your mouth when they are healthy and properly positioned. However, they often develop problems that require their removal. At Alexandria Children's Dentistry we will monitor their development and, should the wisdom teeth become impacted or maligned, we will refer your teen to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.

Mouth guards

Activities with risks of falls, head contact with other players or head contact with equipment necessitate the use of a mouth guard. In sports like football, ice and roller hockey, basketball, baseball, it is easy to remember mouth guards. However, don't forget that we need mouth guard protection for other sport activities like gymnastics, Lacrosse, racquetball, soccer, field hockey, skateboarding, roller blading, martial arts, boxing, wrestling, and volleyball. Mouth guards minimize the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of your mouth. Children should wear mouth guards during practices as well as games. Athletes, parents, coaches need to realize that players at any level of competition can be injured. Parental support and encouragement are needed to make dental injury prevention a success. The cost of repairing a broken/missing tooth is more expensive than a mouth guard. If they lose a permanent tooth, it is gone forever. Talk to Dr. Angela if your teen participates in any activities that might put them at risk of such injuries, and we can suggest what type of mouth guard will offer them the best protection for their smile.