By the time we make it to our teenage years most teens will have some, if not all of their permanent teeth and this is a very important time for adult teeth. Here is some advice on how to look after your mouth to ensure a healthy smile for life.
Teenagers need food and drink to fuel their growth. However, snacking on sugary drinks and food between meals is also fuelling the bacteria in their mouth. Healthy snacks include apples, carrots, nuts and cheese. Sticky sugary snacks such as lollies, dried fruit and muesli bars should be kept for special occasion treats.
Fizzy drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices and alcohol also contain large levels of sugar and should also be considered a treat. These drinks (including sugar free alternatives) are also acidic which can erode tooth enamel. Water is best. Tips to avoid damage from acidic drinks include: drinking through a straw, rinsing the mouth with water after, restricting to meal time and avoid sipping over a long period of time.
Binge eating, bulimia and anorexia can be a detrimental to oral health. Stomach acid from vomiting can erode dental enamel just like acid drinks, causing everlasting damage to the teeth. Poor nutrition can affect gums and saliva glands.
The best way to avoid dental decay is by practicing good oral hygiene and setting up habits that will last a life time. Teeth should be brushed twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft or extra-soft brush, ideally in the morning before leaving for school and before bed. If not already, start flossing once a day. Remember to also brush your tongue. Fresh breath is important for that eventful social life!
If playing contact sports such as (but not limited to) rugby, boxing or hockey it is important to be wearing a mouthguard to protect injury to the teeth. Mouthguards can be store-bought from pharmacies, sports stores and supermarkets. Alternatively, for a more comfortable fit, once all the adult teeth are present you can have a mouthguard custom-made by one of our Dentists.
If a knock or injury were to happen, make sure you visit a Dentist so that an assessment and any required treatment can be done. Usually this will have some partial financial cover from ACC.
Piercings around the mouth such as a tongue or lip piercing can chip the teeth when you are eating, speaking or even sleeping. These chips may be minor but sometimes can do major damage to the teeth, worst case scenario they may require extraction. In addition, piercings can become very uncomfortable or infected. If swelling occurs oral piercings can affect breathing. Oral piercings can cause recession of the gum away from the teeth causing areas of sensitivity
If a piercing must be had, plastic studs are safer then metal. Make sure you do your research into a good company to buy from/get a piercing done at: it is good to know that the place you go to uses ses clean equipment to avoid nasty infections.
As the permanent teeth start coming through sometimes they may be crooked, crowded, gappy or out of alignment. Straighter teeth can make brushing, flossing, talking and chewing easier therefore improving the comfort and health of the mouth. Teenage years are a good time to have braces and once treatment is complete a beautiful straight smile is a real confidence booster!
Tobacco, vaping and marijuana products are often first experimented with during teenage years. They can cause dry mouth, gum disease, stinky breath, tooth staining, infections and cancer. It is significantly easier to prevent a smoking habit earlier then later on.
Wisdom teeth will begin to grow into the mouth usually between the ages of 17 and 21. Some people may get their wisdom teeth sooner and some people may not get them at all. The number of wisdom teeth people may have can vary from zero to even sometimes more than four! As wisdom teeth start breaking through the gum it can occasionally be sore. It is really important to keep the area clean to avoid infection. Eruption of wisdom teeth shouldn’t cause teeth to crowd up further forward in the mouth but if there isn’t enough room for them or they are on a funny angle it is possible your dentist may recommend they be removed.
Teenagers should visit their dentist at least once a year and it’s possible that for some individuals we would recommend seeing you more often. Having a regular check-up with our dental team means that any issues can be picked up while they are minor and therefore much easier to treat. Teenagers can visit McKeefry Dental in New Zealand for free once they start in year 9 at school until their 18th birthday, so why not make the most of it?
School students from year 9 through to their 18th birthday receive free dental care at McKeefry Dental. Not sure how that works?
Check your child’s eligibility for publicly funded dental treatment. Then enroll them as early as possible, so that you can arrange their first check-up with us.
If you or your teenager has questions or concerns about their oral health, speak to our friendly front desk team today and arrange a check up.