Help your teen achieve a healthy smile.
Filled with everything from angst to exciting new possibilities, adolescence is a distinctive time in your child’s life and development. As the brain changes and hormones surge, adolescence opens your teen’s eyes to a wider world and a desire to express their independence and unique identity in it.
Your teen’s brain and personality aren’t the only signs that adulthood is budding. Adolescence also ushers in the rest of your teen’s permanent teeth, which makes protecting their new adult teeth from damage even more important. Additionally, your teen’s new adult smile can also trigger the challenge of being dissatisfied with their smile’s appearance or disregarding their oral hygiene altogether!
Great oral health and smile satisfaction can bolster all areas of your teen’s physical and psychological well-being through adolescence and beyond. So no matter your teen’s unique adolescent expression, here are the answers to the top 6 questions we receive from parents on how to help make their teen’s smile beautiful, strong, and healthy now and in the long run.
1. How can I motivate my teen to brush their teeth?
Teens might stop brushing their teeth for many reasons, from challenging your authority to lacking an understanding of long-term consequences—a normal side effect of a brain that’s still developing. For some teens, a lack of self-care can also represent a sign of depression or low self-esteem.
Tip: To support your teen’s oral health routine, first reflect on the reason why your teen may be skipping out on brushing and get ready to respond nonjudgmentally. Have you and your teen been butting heads lately? Try to give them a sense of control about their oral hygiene routine through options, like choosing when and where they brush. If your teen is having trouble viewing the big picture, use kind and clear explanations and images of dental issues to demonstrate the possible negative impact on their smile’s look, health, and attractiveness. Last but not least, if you suspect your teen is struggling with a mental health concern, seek professional help as soon as possible.
2. What sports require a mouth guard?
As teenagers embody new physical strength and experiment with risk-taking, wearing a protective sports mouth guard is especially important. Dental injuries are the most common type of orofacial injury sustained during sports, and athletes who don’t wear a mouth guard are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth.
If your teen’s face may make contact with another player, a ball, or the ground, wearing a mouth guard can help to spare them from an undesirable, unsightly, or painful dental injury. In this sense, “contact sports” include:
- Martial Arts
- Mountain Biking
Tip: For maximum comfort and protection, visit Dr. Farless for a custom mouth guard. A well-fitted and properly fabricated mouth guard cushions the jaw, protects all of the teeth, and ensures that the upper and lower teeth won’t be forced together upon an upward impact. If your teen wears braces, Dr. Farless will mold the mouth guard around them.
3. What’s the best age for orthodontics?
The American Academy of Orthodontics recommends that your child’s first orthodontic evaluation take place at age seven, or sooner if you recognize an orthodontic problem. But if your child is already well into their teenage years and hasn’t had an orthodontic evaluation, don’t worry! Orthodontic treatment typically begins between 10 and 14 years of age, when your child has most of their adult teeth and their head and mouth are still growing. Thanks to advances in orthodontics, though, treatment can truly begin at any age after permanent teeth have come in.
Tip: A clean bill of oral health is necessary to start orthodontic treatment. Schedule your teen’s next exam and cleaning, and ask Dr. Farless for recommendations on local orthodontists.
4. Is wisdom tooth extraction necessary?
From sprouting a first tooth to losing the last baby tooth, our teeth really do tell the story of our developmental stages. The same is true for the third molars (known as wisdom teeth), which tend to make their presence known between 17 and 25 years of age. (Your teen might appreciate the notion of being “wise” more than you do!)
Though some teens and young adults won’t have problems with their wisdom teeth, most will have wisdom teeth that are fully or partially impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth don’t have enough space to erupt normally, which can cause headaches, mouth or facial pain, jaw issues, and damage to other teeth. To prevent unsavory symptoms before they happen, extraction is strongly recommended for impacted wisdom teeth.
Tip: The sooner you know whether or not your teen needs to have their wisdom teeth extracted, the better. In addition to giving you and your teen the ability to plan for the extraction and short recovery period, a well-timed wisdom tooth extraction can help your teen avoid preventable problems.
5. What’s an appropriate age for porcelain veneers?
Many teens and young adults feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth, which may dampen their self-confidence or stop them from laughing, smiling, or expressing themselves in social settings. With the right cosmetic dentistry intervention, you can empower your teen to reclaim their self-esteem and authentically participate in the world around them.
Porcelain veneers can be safely and successfully applied to the front surface of any visible adult teeth. However, porcelain veneers require a slight but irreversible change to the front surface of the teeth, which may or may not be appropriate for your teen’s specific cosmetic concerns and unique dental history.
For instance, many teens who are unhappy with their smiles’ shade can benefit from a professional teeth whitening treatment, while dental bonding can improve tooth shape, size, color, alignment, and length without making changes to the tooth’s structure.
Tip: For the most clarity about your teen’s best options for cosmetic improvements, set up a free cosmetic consultation with Dr. Farless.
6. How will a lip or tongue piercing affect my teen’s oral health?
Teens and young adults have a strong (and normal) desire to express their independence and individuality. While the idea of sporting mouth jewelry may make your teen feel like they’ll stand out from the crowd, oral piercings aren’t without potential consequences.
As the human mouth is naturally teeming with bacteria, oral piercings run the risk of getting infected (especially if your teen has stopped cleaning their mouth and teeth). Mouth jewelry, which is generally made from metal and hard plastics, can also damage the delicate soft tissues of the mouth or cause cracks or chips in your teen’s teeth. Additionally, piercings of the lips or cheeks can cause long-lasting facial scarring once the piercings are removed.
Tip: You can help your teen feel unique without compromising the health of their teeth. Acknowledge your teen’s need for self-expression by calmly explaining the downside of oral piercings, and partner with them to come up with alternatives, such as a new hair color, shoes, accessories, or other fashion preferences.
Though the teenage years can be intense or rocky, you don’t have to navigate the waters alone. Through empowerment, compassion, and open communication, Dr. Farless is here to help your teen meet their smile goals and oral health needs. Contact our office today to schedule your teen’s next appointment.