Teens & Oral Care

Dental caries (cavities) often increase in teens due to changes in dietary habits, lack of motivation for good oral hygiene habits, increased demands in school, work and social arenas. Young adults differ from children in their overall dental needs.

Many of our adolescent patients are undergoing orthodontic treatment and are instructed on preventing cavities that can easily develop around their braces. Wisdom teeth removal is a big concern for this age group. These topics, and more, are addressed with our teen patients and their parents. We have found that motivating teens to be knowledgeable about their own dental needs leads to the long-term health of the permanent teeth into adulthood.

Warning about Oral Piercing

You might not be surprised anymore to see teens or adults with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be. There are many risks involved with oral piercings including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders, receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. The tongue could swell large enough to close off the airway. Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva, and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the piercing needle. Follow the advice of the American Dental Association, and give your mouth a break, avoid mouth jewelry!

Warning about Tobacco

Tobacco, in any form, can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco. Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is often used by teens who believe it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that smokeless tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes. Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as 3-4 months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions, called leukoplakias. If your child is a tobacco user, you should watch for the following that could be early signs of oral cancer:

  • A sore throat that will not heal
  • White or red leathery patches on the lips and on or under the tongue pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or on the lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue
  • An unusual growth
  • A mole that changes appearance or starts itching, bleeding, or becomes sensitive

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