Dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 5 and 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age 6, and except for wisdom teeth, are all present between ages 12 and 14. That is one reason why it is still important for teens to have a regular check-up twice a year. Follow these tips to stop cavities before they start.
Skip soda. Teens are drinking more soft drinks than ever, both in school and at home. Sugar in sweetened sodas can cause cavities, and acidic flavor additives (found in both unsweetened and sweetened sodas) can also erode and damage tooth enamel.
Play it safe. Contact sports can cause oral injuries, but teens can prevent injuries by wearing a mouthguard while playing sports. More than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year, and dentists regularly recommend the use of mouthguards in a variety of sports activities. Whether a mouthguard is custom-fitted by a dentist or bought at a store, teens should keep it clean by rinsing it often and storing it in a ventilated container.
Avoid oral piercings. People with tongue or other mouth piercings can easily chip their teeth while eating, sleeping, talking and chewing. The fracture can be confined to tooth enamel and require a filling, or it may go deeper, which can lead to a root canal or tooth extraction.
Make time for healthy habits. Teens eat quick meals in the form of "nutrition" bars and fast food to stay alert and on schedule between school, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs. However, these habits can permanently damage oral and overall health. Teens should have access to healthy snacks such as apples, carrot sticks and cheese. Keeping a travel-size toothbrush in a locker or backpack can help teens keep up good teeth-cleaning habits by brushing after meals and snacks.
Chewing sugarless gum with xylitol (a natural sweetener) after meals or snacks can also help cleanse the mouth. Drinking water throughout the day can help cleanse the teeth of excess bacteria and food debris.
Just like adults, teens should visit their dentist at least twice a year. Regular dental visits and cleanings not only help keep teeth bright and shiny (a boost to any teens self-esteem), they can also help catch minor problems before they become worse. Feel free to contact us during normal office hours by phone at 603-617-2882. Our office hours are Monday to Thursday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We can also be reached via e-mail day or night at firstname.lastname@example.org.