For all of our parents of teens and teen readers, this post is for you! We write a lot about dental issues and concerns surrounding toddlers and kids, but some topics apply specifically to our older patients and should be talked about on their own. So, let’s get started.
Most kids have all of their permanent teeth in by thirteen years old. That means you should have 28 permanent teeth in your smile when all is said and done. This is all you need to have. But in your teenage years, a few extra teeth decide to pop in, at the back of your jaw behind your already perfectly adequate molars. These new teeth are called wisdom teeth, and they often cause problems.
Wisdom teeth typically come in between the ages of 17 and 25 years. At this age, your bite has had time to establish, whether it be naturally aligned or with the help of mouth appliances such as braces. Wisdom teeth can upset the established order of your bite and can cause crowding. In turn, your teeth may move around to accommodate the late comers.
You might have heard a dentist say the wisdom teeth are “impacted”. This is when the wisdom tooth cannot fully erupt because it has tried to break through the gum line at an angle or sideways.
This is not uncommon; many adult jaws don’t have the space to accommodate 32 teeth. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, they need to be removed. Impacted wisdom teeth may not initially be painful but can become painful over time. Gum irritation and bleeding are common symptoms because the tooth agitates, if it has partially erupted it can be a feeding ground for food particles and bacteria to hide in your mouth.
If your wisdom teeth erupt fully, you still may need to have them removed. Proper alignment of your jaw and bite is very important, and if wisdom teeth causes crowding and movement of your other teeth, we may decide that they’ve got to go.
We may make referrals for our teenage patients for braces. We will do this if we determine that your bite is off, or if you have several teeth that are crooked. For some of you, having a smile with perfectly aligned teeth is enough of a motivator to deal with braces. But for those of you that it’s not, there’s a few other reasons to justify braces that may interest you.
Crooked teeth can be difficult to properly clean and brush. This leaves these areas in your mouth ripe for bacteria and food particles that can lead to gingivitis (bloody gums) and cavities. If your bite is off, it is possible that you might not even realize that eating could be easier and more comfortable if your teeth were properly aligned. If you struggle to take a clean bite out of a sandwich or a burger, it might mean that you have an overbite or an under bite. These issues can be fixed with braces, or sometimes retainers.
Braces may not seem so great, but the reality is the teeth that you have now, will be with you for the rest of your life. Taking care of them and fixing them when necessary is important to keep you smiling proudly throughout the rest of your adult life.
Lip and Tongue Piercings
If you’ve ever appreciated the look of someone you’ve seen that has a tongue piercing or a lip piercing, read this before taking any action. Piercing your tongue, your lip or the area above your lip is bad for your dental health.
Firstly, your mouth is a home to millions of bacteria. It is counterintuitive to pierce a hole in your flesh in an area crawling with bacteria. Infections in the mouth are quite painful, as anyone who’s had a cavity can tell you. Even if the piercing does not become infected, it can still cause problems. Lots of people with tongue and lip piercings develop a habit over time of playing with the piercing, tapping their tongue against their teeth, or twisting the lip ring using their teeth. Piercings can rub away your tooth enamel, crack your teeth, crack and dislodge fillings, cause bad breath (because they are another feeding ground for bacteria) cause gum recession, and gingivitis.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use among teens continues to persist in the United States.
- “In 2019, 4 of every 100 middle school students (4.0%) and nearly 11 of every 100 high school students (10.8%) reported current use of two or more tobacco products in the past 30 days.
- In 2019, about 12 of every 100 middle school students (11.5%) and about 30 of every 100 high school students (29.9%) said they had ever tried two or more tobacco products.”
Aside from the well-known health risks of cancer and heart disease because of tobacco use; the most immediate negative effects from tobacco use on your teeth are an aesthetic deterrent. We know that tobacco use stains your teeth. We also know that tobacco use causes bad breath. Information about how to quit or helping your teen quit can be found here.
Eating disorders are a devastating issue that affects more than 10 million Americans. Aside from their harmful effects on the nutrition and development of the body they have a negative impact on dental health as well. Lack of proper nutrition for your body can cause bloody gums and chronic dry mouth. Saliva is your mouths natural defense to fight plaque and bacteria that thrive on your teeth and gum lines. Furthermore, frequent vomiting causes enamel erosion of the teeth from repeated exposure to the strong stomach acids. More information about eating disorders can be found here.
Utah Pediatric Dentists
We are committed to the kids in our communities of all ages. When was the last time your teen came in for a check-up? The teeth your teens have now, will stay with them for the rest of their lives, let’s take good care of them! Give us a call today to schedule a visit.