Although it’s tempting to think of cavities as a matter of child’s play, the fact is that teenagers, too, are particularly susceptible to tooth decay.
Between school, work, extracurricular activities, and socializing, it’s easy for a busy teen to lapse in the oral hygiene department.
When you combine this with a penchant for junk food and soda, you have a perfect storm for tooth decay.
Dr. Janice Spada, who treats cavities with tooth fillings in Sudbury, MA, offers guidance for parents who are worried about their teens’ oral health habits.
Start With Smarter Snacking
It’s appalling that unhealthy fare has become so readily available in schools, especially given the obesity epidemic affecting children and teens more than ever.
Further complicating the matter, some of the food options marketed as healthy and all-natural are anything but, and many are downright destructive to teeth. Take sports drinks, for example, which contain sugar and acidity comparable to that found in sodas. Energy drinks aren’t any better.
While you can’t police your teens’ diet 24/7, you can provide healthier alternatives. Stock your fridge with bottled water, milk, and freshly squeezed fruit juices.
Fruit, raw veggies, and lightly salted nuts are ideal, or you might offer string cheese, reduced-fat dairy, and lean meat.
If your teen’s sugar-soaked diet places him at risk for developing several cavities, Dr. Spada may recommend fluoride treatments. Fluoride, sometimes found in public drinking water, fortifies damaged tooth enamel. Protective sealants may also be an option.
Straight Teeth Are Easier to Clean
Teenagers who wear braces are significantly more susceptible to developing tooth decay, especially those who wear traditional metal braces. If your teen desires straighter teeth but balks at the idea of “metal mouth,” Invisalign invisible braces are an excellent alternative.
Image-conscious teens will appreciate that the plastic aligners are all but invisible during wear and can be removed discretely—no need for an awkward retainer. Dr. Spada adds that straighter teeth are actually easier to keep clean, reducing the risk for cavities
Special Concerns for Young Women
Hormone fluctuations affect females at various stages in life, beginning at puberty. As hormone levels change, the body responds differently to bacteria and plaque in the mouth, making her more prone to menstruation gingivitis.
Although it occurs only a few days out of each cycle, your daughter may be alarmed to notice that her gums bleed when she brushes or flosses. Despite this unpleasant effect, the condition is temporary and rarely causes lasting damage.
Dr. Spada cautions that young women who take oral contraceptives may also have a higher risk of gingivitis.
A lifetime of smiles, no matter what age. To learn more about the benefits of dental exams and excellent hygiene, or to request an appointment with Dr. Janice Spada, contact our Sudbury, MA dentist office at (478) 443-3111. We welcome patients of all ages living in Marlborough, Worcester, Framingham, Boston, and the neighboring communities.