Your teen mastered the art of brushing his or her teeth years ago. Unfortunately, that doesnât guarantee a cavity-free checkup. Truth be told, tooth decay rates go up during the teen years, with a staggering sixty percent of teens suffering from gum disease! Read on to discover the typical teenager habits that may mean major mouth maladies. Snacking â The average teen eats nine times a day, and itâs probably safe to bet that not all those snacks are tooth-friendly fruits and vegetables. Sugary and starchy foods like chips, french fries, chocolate and candy arenât just a feast for your teen â they also provide the fuel needed for bacteria in the mouth to create tooth-eroding acid.
- Encourage healthy snacks like swapping chips and queso for cheese and whole grain crackers; or opting for unbuttered popcorn and tortilla chips that are baked instead of fried.
- Trade chewy and sticky candy for naturally sweet fruits like pineapple, strawberries and pears or low-fat yogurt.
- Replace chips and snack mix with equally crunchy munch like apples, carrot sticks, low-salt pretzels or unsalted nuts.
Soft Drinks â Teens are notorious for guzzling soda, but energy drinks and other sugary beverages can do just as much damage. Even diet sodas arenât much better because itâs not just the sugar in soft drinks, but the acids too, that can erode teeth.
- Cut back on sugary beverages by replacing 1-2 drinks a day with milk or water or limiting soft drinks to meal times, when the sugars and acids are most easily washed away.
- Look for tasty alternatives like flavored waters or juice-based drinks, and fill up a water bottle so itâs easy to make a healthy choice.
- Curb carbonation-cravings with root beer, which contains less acid than other sodas. Sip it through a straw for added tooth protection.
- Remember, dark sodas stain teeth too. Sip on something else for a bright and healthy smile.
Oral Piercings â Tongue piercings and lip rings can be quite a fashion statement â and quite the dental disaster! Oral jewelry can cause chipped teeth, infections, HIV, taste loss and even tooth loss. And even if all goes well, many piercers underestimate the work required to just to keep a piercing clean! Teens â or anyone considering an oral piercing âshould know the risks before taking the plunge.
- Chipped and fractured teeth are the most common problem, caused by the piercing banging against teeth while eating, sleeping, talking or chewing. Mouth ulcers can also form from constant irritation when swallowing.
- The mouth is full of bacteria, which are introduced into the bloodstream once the skin is punctured. These bacteria can infect the mouth, or make their way to the heart and cause more serious problems.
- Post-piercing swelling is normal, but a severely swollen tongue can cut off the air supply. If this happens, doctors may pass a breathing tube through a patientâs nose until the swelling goes down.
- To cut costs, many piercers may reuse needles. If the needles and other instruments arenât properly sterilized, they can spread infections like HIV and hepatitis.
- Allergic reactions to certain metals are common, and can lead to more complications â and less jewelry choices.