Dental health is different at every stage of your child’s life:
- Infant dental health is all about taking care of their gums.
- Toddler dental health is concerned with teething and potential injuries from falls while learning to walk.
- Child dental health (when a child is approximately 4 – 12 years old) is focused on preventing cavities in the primary teeth and managing how / when primary teeth fall out to make way for adult teeth.
So what sets teen (13 – 18 years old) dental health apart?
- Adolescents have a combination of teeth. Most teens and adolescents have both adult teeth and baby (primary) teeth. It is important to remember that some teens still have baby teeth because they need to be as vigilant in caring for their primary teeth as they are their adult teeth. All teeth are important.
- Teen diet and nutrition is often inconsistent. With school schedules, after school activities, sports, and homework, most teens do not have a regular eating schedule. They are more likely to get the majority of their calories from snacking than children still in elementary school. They are also more likely to eat fast food in between commitments, even if their parents are driving them. Poor nutrition leaves teeth susceptible to cavities.
- Minimal water intake is another issue in teen dental health. Sports drink usage is through the roof among teens. Sports drinks may help during heavy workouts, but regular consumption can lead to cavities due to the high sugar content. Adequate water intake is also important to maintain saliva, a key part of the defense against cavities.
- Coffee consumption becomes a bigger concern. Adolescents in this generation are substantially more likely to drink caffeinated beverages. These beverages include coffee, as well as other sweetened cold brew drinks. Drinking coffee and coffee-based beverages leads to teeth staining. Teeth staining may prompt teens to want to do teeth whitening procedures, which weakens their teeth even more.
- Gums are impacted by hormonal changes. Your teenager is going through a big hormonal change. That hormonal change shows up not only in their attitude, but also in their gums. Gums can become more inflamed due to these hormones, which means that flossing becomes even MORE important.
- Teeth brushing can become more erratic. With crazy schedules, some teens may stop brushing their teeth regularly. Unfortunately, you can’t brush their teeth for them like when they were a toddler and just fussing at them doesn’t really help. Help them to understand that they are going to want these teeth when you’re 31, 113, and 131. So, it’s especially important for them to take care of them.
- Limit whitening toothpaste. Adolescents aren’t quite ready to whiten their teeth. They still have young adult teeth that aren’t mature enough to endure whitening. Teens should refrain from using whitening toothpaste until they are at least 19 – 20 years old. Instead, they should be using traditional fluoride toothpaste.
Still curious? Dr. Joye goes into detail about all these topics in the video below.
Dr. Joye does a Facebook Live twice a month at 5:30 pm. Follow us on Facebook to be notified when she goes live next!
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Have more questions about supporting your teen’s dental health? Give us a call anytime at 336-887-9277 (WARR) to ask questions or to schedule an appointment.