As your children begin to transition into their teenage years, their oral health becomes at risk in more ways than one. From sports and social events to poor eating habits, the teenage years can have a significant impact on an adolescent’s overall health. Additionally, teens are more likely to neglect preventative dental habits and make maintaining good daily oral hygiene a low priority.
Read on to learn how puberty can impact your teen’s oral health.
How Hormone Changes Increase Certain Dental Issues
During puberty, hormone levels increase and decrease. As a result, your teen’s body starts to go through various changes. Both teen boys and girls may commonly experience symptoms of gingivitis and gum sensitivity as a result of fluctuating hormone levels, in addition to being at risk for specific dental issues.
Other Cavity-Contributing Factors
Aside from elevated hormone levels, many teens have poor dietary habits that can be a contributing factor to increased tooth decay. Frequent snacking on refined carbohydrates, sugary sweets, sports drinks, and soda can also directly impact cavity-causing bacteria. Current studies indicate that tooth decay is the highest among teens with tooth decay being the most common childhood disease among youth 6 to 19 years of age.
Braces and Other Oral Appliances
As children grow into teens and permanent teeth start to erupt, many changes in the mouth begin to happen, including their bite shape. By the time puberty sets in during the teen years, most of the adult teeth have already set in place. Many people who need dental braces and other orthodontic appliances to correct tooth misalignment get them during their early teen years.
Braces create tiny spaces around the teeth that can trap food particles and promote bacterial-filled plaque deposits, leading to an increase in cavities and tooth decay.
To reduce the risk of permanent damage to your teen’s teeth while wearing braces, be sure to:
- Limit sugary and starchy foods and beverages
- Promote brushing after every meal
- Incorporate a fluoride mouth rinse
- Floss between brackets and under wires
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods
- Keep teeth and gums healthy by visiting your dentist for routine cleanings and exams
An increase in sex hormones during puberty is thought to leave teens at a higher risk of developing gingivitis. The body responds to bacterial plaque surrounding the teeth with an inflammatory response. The gum tissue often becomes red, inflamed, irritated, and bloody. With proper brushing, flossing, and the incorporation of an antimicrobial mouth rinse, gingivitis can be reversible and managed.
For young women, as hormone levels shift throughout their menstrual cycle, the possibility of developing gingivitis increases. The condition called “menstrual gingivitis” can occur right before a girl’s period and symptoms begin to subside after their monthly cycle has passed.
Many teens participate in sporting activities that can quickly cause injuries to the face. These injuries are often caused by collisions, falls, and contact with hard sporting equipment. Tooth-related injuries can be significantly reduced through the use of mouth guards and face guards. Your child’s dentist can prepare an age-appropriate protective device to be worn during sporting activities to protect your teen’s teeth.
Managing The Impact of Puberty On Your Teen’s Dental Health
During the stage of puberty, many adolescents face struggles with emotions, social aspects, and a decrease in self-confidence. Excellent oral health can positively impact an adolescent’s self-image, and that starts with your teen feeling confident with their smile.
The ideal time for a child to get braces is between the ages of 8 and 14 years, while their facial bones are still growing, and their teeth are easier to move. A straight smile gives your child an increase in confidence throughout their life, but straighter teeth have a reduced risk for cavities and gum disease problems.
Contact Thomas Orthodontics today to schedule a braces consultation to improve your teen’s oral health.