As your child reaches their teenage years, they’re gaining greater independence and autonomy over their oral health, for better or worse.
This means that while you may no longer monitor them while they brush and floss and you don’t read them bedtime stories about the importance of going to the dentist, you may need to keep an eye on their lifestyle habits.
Read on in this blog from Patrick Stuckey, DDS to find answers to some common questions about teen dental health you may be wondering.
Does My Teen Need to Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
No one inherently needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. As long as they aren’t impacted and don’t cause you any problems, it is not necessary to remove them. However, this is often not the case.
Most people do not have enough jaw space to accommodate an extra set of molars. This results in impaction, pain, damage to the other teeth, tooth decay, infections, and cysts. If any of these problems are present or if x-rays reveal they could cause problems in the future, it’s best to have them extracted.
Should My Teen Get Braces?
The earlier your child can get an orthodontic screening, the better. While we recommend that your child gets an orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re 7, it’s never too late to undergo orthodontic treatment.
Many teenagers are hesitant to wear braces because they’re embarrassed. However, braces come in a variety of colors and your teen may also be a candidate for clear aligners instead.
It’s important to correct misaligned teeth to prevent oral health problems related to difficulty with thoroughly cleaning the tooth surfaces. Correcting a misaligned bite can also prevent TMJ and damage to your teeth.
How Can My Teen Prevent Dental Injuries?
Your child’s teenage years are the years they’re at the highest risk for dental trauma. This is because teens are very active in sports and hobbies. They may take up risky activities when they hang out with their friends.
If your child plays contact sports or grinds their teeth, they should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth from damage. A mouthguard is a thermoplastic aligner that is placed over your teeth and acts as a cushion that absorbs force if you get hit in the mouth or clench your jaw.
How Does My Teen’s Diet Affect Their Oral Health?
One area of your child’s life where you start to lose your authority over what your teen does is their diet. You aren’t with them 24/7 and they may start to make their own money which gives them the ability to purchase what they want.
Encourage them to make healthy choices by teaching them about the consequences of a high sugar diet. It’s crucial that your teen stays hydrated and reduces their consumption of sugar, carbohydrates, and acidic drinks to prevent cavities.
What Oral Health Problems Do Teens Run Into?
Teenagers can run into cavities, gum disease, TMJ, orthodontic problems, and bruxism at this age. The best way to prevent these problems is by eating a healthy diet, practicing good oral hygiene, attending dental visits every 6 months, and protecting your teeth with mouthguards when necessary. Your teenager should brush their teeth and tongue twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss once daily.
Expert Dental Care for Your Teenager
If your teenager is overdue for a dental cleaning or oral exam, contact us at Patrick Stuckey, DDS today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Patrick Stuckey. Early detection and prevention are key to maintaining good oral health.