Proper Daily Care
The best way for teens to enjoy a nice smile and healthy teeth is to continue the good oral habits started early in childhood. Whether or not you wear braces or other orthodontic treatment, it is important to:
- Brush three times a day to remove plaque. Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gumline. If plaque is not removed daily, it can harden into tartar --an unsightly, hard yellow build-up
- Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks
- Visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
In addition to helping teeth last a lifetime, a clean mouth simply makes you feel good. It also gives you fresher breath and a nicer looking smile.
Orthodontics & Mouthguards
Many pre-teens and teens require braces to fix crowded or crooked teeth and poor jaw alignment. Teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, stand a better chance of being lost early, and cause extra stress on the chewing musles. An orthodontic evaluation will determine if you need braces, and what type of treatment is right for you. If you wear braces, extra care should be taken to properly clean your teeth.
If you are currently in braces it is very important to maintain your dental health by staying to a twice a year routine dental cleaning. To achieve a complete and thorough professional cleaning our office will remove your wire (if your orthodontist will permit it), and you will return to your Orthodontist to have the wire put back in the proper position. This would be called a wires in appointment, which usually lasts only 10 minutes.
If you play sports, mouth guards are critical to protecting your smile. These devices typicall cover the upper teeth, and are designed to protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to your mouth. If you wear braces or other fixed dental appliances on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
Nutrition plays a key role in your dental health. The sugars, carbohydrates, and starches in many snack foods and drinks support the formation of plaque, which destroys tooth enamel. Limit the number of snacks you eat and drink - each time you consume foods and drinks that contain sugars or starches, your teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more. Eating a well-balanced diet from the five food groups can make a big difference in your dental health. For snacks, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or fruit.
Most manufacturers do not recommend in office teeth whitening until 18 years of age. Thorough cleanings by a dentist or hygienist will remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco. Using a whitening toothpaste can also help remove these surface stains between dental visits. If stains cannot be removed we recommend starting with over the counter whitening strips, which can improve the color of your teeth.
Habits & Eating Disorders
If you play sports, mouth guards are critical to protecting your smile. These devices typically cover the upper teeth, and are designed to protect against broken teeth, cut lips and other damage to your mouth. If you wear braces or other fixed dental appliances on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.
If you don't smoke or chew tobacco, don't start. In addition to other health problems, smoking can stain your teeth and gums, stain the tartar build-up on your teeth and contribute to bad breath. In the long run, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars all incresase your risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease. If you do use tobacco, let your dentist and physician know, and make sure you tell them about any mouth problems you may be experiencing.
Despite its popularity, oral piercing can cause complications such as infections, uncontrollable bleeding and nerve damage. You can also choke on studs, barbells, or hoops that come loose, and the metal jewelry can also chip or crack teeth and cause damage to your gums.
Both bulimia (binge-eating and vomiting) and anorexia (an inordinate fear of gaining weight often resulting in vomiting) are serious disorders that directly affect the appearance of teeth by eroding the tooth enamel. While a dentist can correct the deteriorated tooth enamel, he or she cannot treat the actual eating disorder, which is a potential life-threatening condition that requires addressing psychological issues of self image and self-control. Should you have an eating disorder, or think you might, please talk to your physician.