Teens 12-18 Years Old
For teens, the first dental visit will include most elements of an adult visit, with a gentle approach that keeps the needs of slightly younger patients in mind.
We’ll take x-rays so that the dentist can monitor the development of their teeth, as well as permanent teeth below the gum’s surface. Our hygienist will clean the teeth and check to observe how at-home brushing and flossing are going.
We will examine their teeth, answer any questions that you may have and recommend any future treatment that may be needed. We may also discuss age-appropriate treatment for your teen such as sealants or fluoride for prevention of cavities or orthodontic care.
They may also ask any questions regarding tooth development, orthodontics, recommended foods or products, or anything else that pertains to your teen’s needs. Adolescents face many oral health problems they might not be aware of. Irregular teeth growth is a common problem and adolescents with braces are a common sight. Another problem is wisdom teeth extraction or the removal of the third molar. Dental cavities are yet another common problem in adolescents.
Eruption of your teen’s teeth
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Second Molars: Typically, between the ages of 12-14 the 2nd molars erupt. This is of significant importance because this is also at the age where good oral hygiene habits are at their worst. Extra care needs to be taken to maintain 6-month checkups and good home dental care.
Wisdom Teeth: Ages 17-21 is also a time when we see new teeth erupting; the wisdom teeth. Erupting wisdom teeth can cause discomfort in the jaw. If the teen has orthodontic treatment wisdom teeth evaluation is especially important, as they can cause crowding. Sometime in this age range we will take a panoramic X-ray that will show the position of the teeth and will aide in their removal, if necessary.
Swollen Gums: Other changes that occur are often associated with gingivitis (swollen gum tissue). These are typically seen during times of hormonal changes or if your teen is a mouth breather. Early signs of gingivitis are gums that bleed when brushed or flossed, and gums that are bright red and swollen instead of pink. Good oral hygiene habits will help combat this.
Oral Hygiene for Teens
Most of the teenagers don’t take care of their teeth the way they should. 80% of cases of tooth decay are found in teenagers and over 80% of teenagers have cavities by age 17. This is a time when many teens start to drink a lot of pop and consume excessive amounts of sweets. Consuming too many sweets, or sipping pop (or sports drinks) throughout the day can lead to tooth decay.
Taking care of their teeth can pay off in fewer cavities and healthier teeth. The early teen years are normally the time when good hygiene habits are at their worst. Help your teens to develop great hygiene habits. Here are some tips for establishing these habits:
- Ensure they brush their teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss between the teeth once a day.
- Choose healthy drinks for refreshments, such as milk, or 100% fruit juices. If you do consume pop, limit your intake to one a day and drink it quickly, preferably with a meal. Have them brush teeth afterwards.
- If they are unable to brush after eating, at least have them rinse their mouth with water, so that the sugar and acid don’t stay on the surfaces of their teeth for the entire afternoon.
- No sweets after brushing, before bedtime. That sweet treat will stay on the tooth surfaces all night.
- Try to avoid sweet, sticky snacks. Fresh fruit, popcorn and crunchy vegetables are better choices.
- Regular 6-month dental and hygiene visits.
- Promote oral health. One great idea for one of those school reports or presentations: Study about Tooth Decay and How to take care of those teeth.
Tongue Piercing – Is It Really Cool?
You might not be surprised anymore to see people with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be. There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. The tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle. The advice of the American Dental Association: Give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.
Tobacco – Bad News In Any Form
Tobacco, in any form, can jeopardize your teen’s health and cause incurable damage. Teach your teen about the dangers of tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit. Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.
If your teen is a tobacco user you should watch for the following that could be early signs of oral cancer:
- A sore that won’t heal.
- Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
- White or red leathery patches on the lips, and on or under the tongue.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
Because the early signs of oral cancer are not usually painful, people often ignore them. If it’s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. If you suspect any signs bring them in and we will perform oral cancer screening.
Periodontal Disease In Teens
The meaning of the word “periodontal” is around the tooth. Also known as gum diseases periodontal diseases are serious infections caused by bacteria that harm the gums and tissues in the vicinity of the mouth. While dental cavities or caries only affects the tooth, periodontal disease is devastating affecting the bones that surround the tooth, gums and coverings of teeth root and tooth membrane.
The disease should not be taken lightly and if it’s left untreated it can spread and affect the bones under the teeth which would eventually dissolve and would no longer support the teeth in its place. The chronic form of the disease is responsible for tooth loss in seventy percent of the cases affecting seventy five percent of the people at some time in their lives.
The causes of periodontal disease are similar to any other oral disease wherein plaque buildup and bacteria are responsible for the condition. According to statistics plaque buildup is the main cause of gum related diseases. Apart from the causes listed, the other possible causes of periodontal disease include: Genetics, unkempt oral hygiene, food getting stuck to frequently in the gums, mouth breathing, low nutrient diet or vitamin c deficient diet, smoking, diabetes, autoimmune/systemic disease, changes in hormone levels, certain medications and constantly teeth grinding.
According to statistics, 66% of young adult population and 50% of teenagers suffer from periodontal disease. It is also the most widespread tooth loss cause in adults. But, what are the symptoms of periodontal disease? There are various symptoms and it could differ from one adolescent to the other which may include swollen, tender, and red gums; if one gets bleeding during brushing or flossing the teeth it is also one of the symptoms of periodontal disease; receding gums; constant odorous breath; loose teeth; change in alignment of jaw and bite. The symptoms of the disease may be similar to other medical conditions and doctor’s consultation is the best in this regard.
We can diagnose the periodontal disease after reviewing the complete medical history and by physically examining your teenager’s mouth. Usually, an x-ray of the teeth is taken to evaluate the disease.
Periodontal disease is classified into different types based on what stage the disease is in.
Forms Of Gum Disease
The mildest form of gum disease is known as “gingivitis” in which gums become swollen, red and tender resulting in bleeding while daily brushing and flossing. Gingivitis is again divided into four groups-primarily acute, sub-acute, recurrent and chronic. Acute gingivitis is nothing but sudden appearance which lasts for shorter duration and could be painful. Sub-acute gingivitis is a less severe type of gingivitis. Recurrent gingivitis is the one that comes back after treatment. Chronic gingivitis is the one that onsets slowly, lasts longer and is generally painless. A dentist’s treatment and proper and continuous care can easily solve the problem of gingivitis but if left untreated could result in periodontitis.
Periodontitis is further classified into mild, moderate and advanced stages. Periodontitis results from untreated gingivitis. In this stage, the deterioration of the bone in the vicinity of the tooth becomes evident. The common symptoms include red gums that bleed, bad tastes, loose teeth and tooth loss. Proper treatment is a must in order to control the disease and prevent further deterioration. Periodontitis, which is in moderate to advanced stage shows signs of major loss of tissue and bone loss near the teeth. There are various treatments available for periodontal disease which is decided by the dentist depending on teenager’s age, medical history and health in general.
The method of treatment also depends on the extent to which disease has reached. The tolerance of the teenager to certain medicines, therapies and procedures are also taken into consideration. Expectations and opinion of the parents or teenager is also the criteria in deciding the type of treatment. The treatment usually involves plaque removal, medication and in worse case, a surgery.
Both Bulimia (binge-eating and vomiting) and Anorexia (an inordinate fear of gaining weight often resulting in vomiting) are serious disorders that directly affect the appearance of teeth by eroding the tooth enamel. While our dentists can correct the deteriorated tooth enamel we cannot treat the actual eating disorder — a potential life-threatening condition that requires addressing psychological issues of self-image and self-control.