In the busy lives of teenagers, oral health may not feel like a top priority. However, dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 6 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cavities aren’t the only dental risk teens face in their day-to-day lives. Here are a few quick tips to keep your teen’s smile in great shape:
- Play it safe. Five million teeth are lost annually in sports-related injuries, according to the American Dental Assistants Association. Contact sports can cause oral injuries, but teens can prevent injuries by wearing a mouthguard while playing sports. Whether a mouthguard is custom-fitted by a dentist or bought at a store, your teen should keep it clean by rinsing it often and storing it in a ventilated container.
- Avoid oral piercings. Tongue or other mouth piercings can easily chip your teen’s teeth while eating, sleeping, talking or chewing. The fracture can be confined to tooth enamel and require a filling, or it may go deeper, which can lead to a root canal or tooth extraction. Infections are also common with oral piercings.
- Understand the hazards of vaping. Vape sales have skyrocketed in recent years under the misconception that they’re less harmful than cigarettes. Unfortunately, users are still at risk for gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer. Talk to your teen about the dangers of e-cigarettes.
- Make time for healthy habits. Teens sometimes opt for quick meals in the form of “nutrition” bars and fast food to stay alert and on schedule between school, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs. However, these habits aren’t always the best choices for their oral and overall health. Providing your teen access to healthy snacks such as apples, carrot sticks, cheese and water can be helpful in keeping their health on track. Recommend that he or she keep a travel-size toothbrush in their locker or backpack to help keep up good teeth-cleaning habits.
- Schedule regular dental visits. Just like adults, teens should visit their dentist at least twice a year. Regular dental visits and cleanings can help boost a teen’s confidence and self-esteem and catch minor problems before they become worse.
Guiding your teen in the right direction can help set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. A little bit of effort towards upkeeping their oral health will go a long way.