Teenage Teeth? Seven Healthy Mouth Tips

As children become more independent, parents often have less direct influence over their child’s oral care. The transition to adolescence means that schedules become more crowded and teens are left with more responsibility in caring for their own teeth.  Too often, this results in first-time cavities and missed opportunities to catch dental issues when they are just beginning and are easiest to treat.  Here are 6 guidelines to make certain your child’s dental care remains a priority through their teenage years.

1. Stock up on dental care supplies.

Teens aren’t likely buying dental supplies yet.  Keep an eye on the supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss in the bathroom and make sure it’s well stocked.  Having the right tools goes a long way in making certain that adolescents keep brushing and flossing.  Plus, who doesn’t love a new toothbrush?

2. Keep your household purchases of sodas and sports drinks to a minimum.

You can’t always control what your teens purchase when they aren’t with you.  But you can make certain that your refrigerator and pantry aren’t well stocked with sugary drinks.  Keeping your own purchase of sodas to a minimum will mean that they are less available when your kids want to grab a quick drink.  And don’t assume that sports drinks are always the best alternative.  They often contain as much sugar as soda and water is generally a better choice.

3. Say “no” to oral piercings.

While not as common as they used to be, many teenagers still want tongue and lip piercings.  We strongly advise against allowing your child to have one, as piercings often cause chipped teeth and other oral issues. Further, your teen’s mouth is still growing and teeth are continuing to shift into place.  Having a foreign object constantly in your teen’s mouth is likely to complicate this natural process .

4. Say “yes” to mouthguards.

As your kids become more involved in sports, so does the chance that they might suffer a hit to the mouth.  More than 200,000 sports-related mouth and jaw injuries occur each year.  The “inconvenience” of wearing a mouthguard for protection can’t compare to the inconvenience (and cost ) of dealing with an accident.

5. Consider an orthodontic consultation.

If your child hasn’t already been a candidate for braces, now may be a good time to see if it’s necessary.  While kids (and adults) get braces at all ages, it’s certainly most common during the teenage years. We can guide you in the right direction and provide advice about your teen’s specific needs.  You may be surprised at the number of options that are now available.

6. Keep an eye on good dental habits.

While your teens are becoming independent, they may still need a reminder to brush and floss regularly. There’s usually no need to constantly remind them or push too hard.  A quick, “Did you brush your teeth?” is often all it takes to keep them on track especially if you started the habits of good oral hygiene when they were younger.

7. Don’t neglect regular checkups.

It can be easy to miss scheduled dental visits with the pace of raising a teenager.  Continue to make regular dental visits a priority and remember that even though adolescents have bigger bodies than they used to, they are still kids.  You’ll need to partner with them in making sure that dental appointments are kept.  Help your teens transition into adulthood knowing that dental care is a priority.

3 Foods that Can Harm Your Child’s Teeth & 3 Easy Alternatives

 

What your child eats affects their oral health.  The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage your children to make healthier food choices.  Here are a few common snacks that can be detrimental to the health of your child’s teeth and a smile-friendly alternative for each of them.

Sodas & Sugary Drinks

Sodas and sugary drinks can be tough to avoid, but they’re also one of the most common threats to your child’s dental health.  The sugar in these drinks combines with the bacteria in their mouths and forms acids that attack the enamel on your child’s teeth, leaving them susceptible to decay.  Limit sodas and try to establish them as more of an occasional treat while you establish a water habit for your child. Add a lemon, lime or cucumber to their water to give it a more flavorful twist.

Ice Cream

Similar to sodas, ice cream can easily become a problem for a child’s oral health.  The high sugar content and extreme cold temperature weaken enamel which can lead to serious problems down the road.  A great alternative to an ice cream sundae is yogurt (low in sugar) with fresh fruit.  The fruit will provide flavor they are craving; plus, the many oral health benefits of yogurt are well-documented.

Potato Chips & Starchy Snacks

You might not think of potato chips as a particularly risky food, since they have little sugar.  However, these foods can easily get wedged and hidden between your child’s teeth.  Potato’s starch converts into sugar as soon as you consume them.  Instead, try eating different types of nuts.  Peanuts, almonds and walnuts, provide vitamins that strengthen children’s teeth and minerals that stimulate saliva production.

Of course, regular (6 month) dental checkups and cleanings are essential in keeping healthy teeth.  Until then, establish good eating habits to help improve your child’s oral health.

Soda’s War On Your Child’s Teeth

Soda and Kids Teeth

Good news for teeth: Soda consumption in the U.S. is falling.  For the eighth-straight year soda consumption has decreased to its lowest level since 1987.  Many school districts have banned sugary carbonated beverages from their cafeterias.  Well-known politicians have attempted to limit access to large quantities of soda, and even the national “Let’s Move” campaign is urging kids to drink water instead of soda.

But there’s still a lot of soda being consumed, especially by kids.  Estimates have shown that one in five children consumes as many as four servings of soda every day.  Many teens drink as many as twelve soft drinks a day!

Soda is not only bad for your body, being a major contributor to obesity, but it’s incredibly damaging to your teeth because its war on them hits in two major fronts: acidity and sugar.  You may have seen the popular science experiment where an egg is placed in soda and left overnight.  Not only will the egg be permanently stained, but if left long enough the acid in the soda will completely dissolve the shell.  Just like in the experiment, every time you drink soda it bathes your teeth in acid that eats away the hard enamel protecting your teeth.

This is where the second attack occurs.  Soda is extremely high in sugar, containing more than 4 tablespoons in a 20 ounce bottle.  Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities.   Teeth that are already softened by a constant washing of highly acidic soda are further damaged by this increase in bacteria.

The good news is that it’s never too late to make healthier choices.  Replacing soda with water is not only better for your teeth, but also better for your overall health.  You can also help reduce the effects of the occasional soda by rinsing with water after consumption and using fluoride toothpaste.   Don’t forget to brush two minutes, two times each day and make sure that you are up to date on your dental appointments!

How To Get Relief From Sensitive Teeth!

how to fix sensitive teeth issues

One of the most common dental complaints we hear involves sensitive teeth.  People of all ages are affected.  Whether it’s biting into a cold ice cream cone or drinking a hot beverage, the pain that can come from hypersensitivity can be more than an inconvenience.

Several things can cause sensitive teeth:

  • Cracked or fractured teeth
  • Missing or worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities

Each of these needs to be treated by a dentist.  Ignoring tooth sensitivity or expecting it to get better on its own can cause problems to compound and bring on even more pain.  By far, the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is exposed dentin, the soft tissue just below the hard enamel that protects your teeth.  Dentin can be exposed by one of the causes listed above, or simply because it has worn away as a result of abrasion.

This article from the American Dental Association addresses several of the treatments available for tooth sensitivity.

If your tooth sensitivity is mild, and if a dental visit has shown no need for advanced medical treatment, there are a few steps you can take yourself to help control or even eliminate pain.  You might consider the following:

Use toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth. 

Because most sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin, many types of toothpaste made for this purpose work by filling in the microscopic channels in the dentin.

Use a mouthwash with fluoride.

Mild gum disease, which again causes an exposure of the dentin, can often be treated by the regular use of a fluoride rinse.  This will help to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and reduce the bacteria that is attacking your teeth and gums.

Stop using medium or hard toothbrushes.

Your toothbrush should be one with soft bristles as most of us already use too much force when brushing.  This can further wear away enamel and cause greater sensitivity.

Start brushing and flossing regularly.

If you aren’t brushing twice a day, as well as flossing, you should start.  The buildup of plaque on your teeth creates an acid that makes already sensitive teeth even more sensitive.

Protecting Tooth Enamel, Five Easy Tips

5-steps-to-protect-childrens-tooth-enamel

 

The first line of protection for your child’s teeth is the enamel, which is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children if often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act line sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Teeth?

Can Gummy Vitamins Harm Teeth?

Gummy vitamins have become very popular in the last several years and even adults now have the option of getting essential vitamins and nutrients through a tasty gummy treat.  But while this can be a great way to get children to take their vitamins, gummy vitamins can harm your teeth.  Yes, they are enhanced with vitamins, but also often contain ingredients that can be found in traditional candy, such as glucose syrup (sugar).  Even sugar free gummies can also contain sticky gelatin and enamel eating citric acid.

Deciding whether or not to use gummy vitamins may come down to what you or your children are most likely to actually use as well as what your own dietary requirements.  If it’s difficult to encourage children to take a regular vitamin, or if you don’t like the taste yourself, then considering a gummy vitamin might not be all bad.  Simply make sure that teeth are brushed shortly after taking them so that these “almost candies” don’t sit on your teeth for long periods of time.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Tooth Enamel? Here Are 5 Sure-Fire Steps.

Use Water to Protect Teeth

The first line of protection for your child’s teeth is the enamel, which is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children if often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act line sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.