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 critical preventive measures, as well as monitoring face and jaw changes.
Appearance, straight teeth, white teeth, and fresh breath may become significant to a teen. They also snack frequently, and all too 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 adolescents.
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a major problem, especially in one’s teens. Bad breath adversely affects teenagers’ self-esteem. Fortunately, bad breath can often be prevented with some simple steps.
Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. When a person doesn’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in the mouth and between the teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make our 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.
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 already present in the mouth, and the introduction of even more bacteria from handling the jewelry all significantly increase the risk of infection.
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 them. The jewelry can come into contact with the gum tissue and cause 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 individuals.
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 he or she eats and drinks. Each time foods and drinks that contain sugars or starches are consumed, the 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 dental health. For snacks, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or fruit.
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 and providing a smoking cessation program for your teen if he or she has picked up the habit of smoking.
We will educate your son or daughter about the various dangers and side effects of smoking. We also are trained to look for signs of oral cancer and 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 to 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 at 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.
All eating disorders pose 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 speak 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 a routine examination.
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 checkups.
Wisdom Teeth (Third-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 wisdom teeth become impacted or misaligned, we will refer your teen to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Activities with risk of falls, head contact with other players, or head contact with equipment all necessitate the use of a mouthguard. In sports like football, ice and roller hockey, basketball, or baseball, it is easy to remember mouthguards.
However, don’t forget that we need mouthguard protection for other sport activities like gymnastics, lacrosse, racquetball, soccer, field hockey, skateboarding, roller blading, martial arts, boxing, wrestling, and volleyball. Mouthguards minimize the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the soft tissues of your mouth.
Children should wear mouthguards during practices as well as games. Athletes, parents, and coaches ought to recognize 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 mouthguard. If a person loses a permanent tooth, it is gone forever. Talk to Dr. Angela if your teen participates in any activities that might put her or him at risk of such injuries, and we can suggest the type of mouthguard that will offer the best protection for your athlete’s smile.