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.


More information for teens on their mouths and their health is available from the American Dental Association website by visiting www.ada.org.

© 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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Common Oral Care Occurrences for TEENS

As teens continue to grow, they’re faced with certain dental issues, such as getting braces or having their wisdom teeth removed. Many of these procedures are a normal part of life, while others are proactive steps dentists take to help ensure a lifetime of oral health.

Here are some good topics to discuss with your teen:

  • Bad breath causes – bad breath, or halitosis, usually comes from bacteria that form on the tongue. In many cases, a simple change in your teen’s personal oral hygiene habits can freshen him up, starting with good oral hygiene, brush the tongue and keep regular visits to your dentist.

  • Whitening options – whitening those pearly whites can be done with whitening toothpastes, mouth rinses and toothbrushes. The dentist also offers whitening treatment options that are done in the dental office and at home.

  • Tobacco use – tobacco products contain toxins that can cause various types of cancer, gum disease, bad breath, tooth discoloration and a diminished sense of smell. It’s easier to kick a smoking habit earlier rather than later.

  • Oral piercings – oral piercings can have adverse affects on the health of your tongue, lips, cheeks and uvula. Oral problems associated with swallowed/aspirated jewelry, speech impairment, fractured teeth and gingival recession can occur.