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Teen Talk, Teen Teeth

Braces, third molars, facial appearance and bad breath: just a few new things for your teen-agers to worry about as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood.

But since these numerous physical changes are all interrelated, adolescence is an especially important time to pay special attention to good oral health. For example:

  • Braces are about more than a pretty smile. Straight teeth also are easier to clean, promote healthy gums, give a balanced facial appearance and are less likely to get chipped.

  • Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, don't always have enough room to emerge during the late teens to early 20s. Impacted wisdoms can damage nearby teeth or cause infection, and may need special care.

  • Bleaching those pearly whites is not an at-home, do-it-yourself kind of project. Some ingredients can irritate gums or cause tooth sensitivity, and some don't even improve tooth color — best to leave that job to your dentist.

  • Bad breath, or halitosis, usually comes from bacteria — but what can you do about it? In many cases, a simple change in your personal or hygiene habits can freshen you up, starting with good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist.

© 2003 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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