Have a teen with teeth trouble? Here are a few causes of common dental problems and tips to prevent tooth decay.
"Smile, and the world smiles with you." This is a saying that we have often heard. However, in order to smile we need to ensure that our teeth are in a good enough condition to display. For teens this could be a real challenge. The late-night-outs, consumption of junk food, smoking, and occasional alcohol binges that may stain teeth are only the beginning. Teens are so caught up in their whirlwind lives that they feel oral hygiene is an insignificant part of their life. Teens fail to brush twice a day and if they do 'brushing' would be a misnomer. In order to appear presentable, some merely rub some paste over the front teeth and then rinse. Teens are also less likely to keep regular dental appointments. Here are a few tips that your teens can follow for better oral hygiene.
Food & Drinks
Soft drinks or colas seem to be among the favourite food items of teens. Not only do they consume these at school or college, some stock the home fridge with these as well. Colas, as compared to fruit juices, are harmful for the teeth. The sugar in the cola can cause cavities. Acidic flavoured additives that are present can damage the teeth's enamel. One solution, apart from cutting back on the intake of colas, is to encourage teens to use a straw when drinking them. This ensures that a lesser amount of drink actually comes in contact with the teeth. Rinsing the mouth well with water after drinking a cola will greatly reduce the chances of developing cavities.
Foods that contain a lot of starch and sugars should be avoided. This is because when these foods are consumed, bacteria in the mouth create acids. This acid in the mouth can affect one's teeth and gums for a period of twenty minutes to an hour after eating. The longer something stays in one's mouth the more damage is done. It is because of this that one should avoid toffees and chewing gums as well.
Alcohol & Smoking
The consumption of alcohol will instigate tooth decay. Alcohol not only dries out the mouth but also discolours and destroys tooth enamel. This makes a person more susceptible to mouth diseases such as cancer, gum diseases, and even tooth loss in some cases.
Smoking also has a similar effect on the teeth. Smoking not only causes your teeth to become stained but also leads to bad breath.
Body piercing is popular amongst the youth, especially those who want to be seen as different and daring. Oral piercing can lead to hygiene problems. The jewellery worn can chip teeth when eating, talking or even sleeping. This could range from damaging the enamel to something more serious, such as nerve damage leading to the need for a root canal treatment. Teens who indulge in oral piercing may often experience mouth infections. There may be swelling of the tongue which in extreme cases can even cause problems with breathing.
Teens with braces need to be extra careful. Food that is caught in the braces will stay close to the teeth, deteriorating their health and causing damage. Sticky food will coat the braces and teeth and will need to be cleaned carefully.
Few Tips and Tricks
Here are few steps to ensure that your teen takes care of his teeth.
- Have your teen go for regular dental check-ups.
- Encourage healthy snacks such as bananas as substitutes for candies and energy bars.
- Encourage the chewing of sugarless gums after meals to help clean the mouth.
- Teens should drink water throughout the day to ensure that any trapped particles are washed away and to minimise the effect of bacteria in the mouth.
- Ensure that your teen brushes and flosses daily.
- Buy a new toothbrush for your teen every two to three months or sooner if the bristles get worn out or bent.
- Use a soft or medium tooth brush. A hard one may damage enamel.
- Use a mouthwash to cure bad breath and help combat the effect of bacteria.