At this Jacksonville, Florida dental practice we care a lot about our dental family, this includes every single one of our patients and their families. If you’re a parent of a teenager, who has decided to transition from a pediatric dentist to a general dentist, you may be wondering how you can help them keep their oral health intact during these formative years. Don’t worry parents, we understand how difficult parenting can be, and as a dentist, Dr. Shields has a unique perspective on what the teenage years can do for a adolescent’s smile and overall well being. Here are a few things we can talk to your teens about.
Sugar is Everywhere and is Atrocious for Your Teeth
As your children age, they spend less and less time with you. Which means you have little say of what they eat. While they’re hanging out with their friends, studying with classmates, or attending soccer practice they have countless options for snacks and beverages. A recent study by the CDC found that one in four teenagers drinks at least one soda per day, and that the average teenager consumes up to 28 teaspoons of sugar every day. All this sugar is hidden in snacks, beverages, and meals your child eats consumes. Sugar is also one of the most harmful substances to ever touch your teeth. Sugar is bacteria’s number one favorite food. If there is sugar in the mouth, bacteria will begin to digest it. This process creates acid which eats away at the enamel of the teeth and causes tooth decay, and it also causes inflammation in the gums which can lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. When we meet with your teen for their biannual check up we talk to them about making healthy decisions while they are alone. Choosing water over soda and healthy snacks like carrots and apples over chips and gummy bears can help them achieve a healthy body and a decay and disease-free mouth.
Cigarettes are a BAD Idea
You’ve likely discussed the dangers of cigarettes with your teens as they were growing up, however reminding them the havoc tobacco products can wreak on their teeth is just one more incentive to never start smoking. According to the CDC, nine out of every ten smokers began smoking before or when they turned 18, and even though in recent years the rates of teen cigarette smoking has gone down, the use of other tobacco products like hookahs and e-cigarettes has increased. As a Jacksonville, Florida dentist, Dr. Shields has a unique perspective on the impacts of smoking because she sees the harm it can cause every day. Cigarettes, tobacco, and nicotine products are full of carcinogenic chemicals that not only cause cardiovascular and lung diseases, but are also one of the leading causes of oral cancer. As a vasoconstrictor, nicotine makes it difficult for blood to reach the gums which can promote the proliferation of bacteria, and will eventually lead to gum disease. Further, smoking causes immediate staining of the teeth as well as bad breath. Sometimes, hearing from their dentist that periodontal therapy, gallons of mouthwash, and multiple teeth whitening treatments are what they have to look forward to may dissuade the use of tobacco products.
Straightening Teeth Is Easy
There comes a time in nearly every teen’s life when they are referred to an orthodontist for braces. While they may be excited at the prospect of a straight smile, they often dread the years of brackets, wires, and bands that lie ahead. At Smiles by Shields we are happy to provide alternatives to traditional braces, and would love to speak with you and your teen about them when the time comes. Clear aligner systems are an innovative and discreet way to straighten teeth. We offer two different systems, Invisalign and Clear Correct. Each system is ideal for different types of patients, but they have a lot in common. Both utilize custom-made clear trays. These trays are created from an impression of your teeth and used to shift your teeth into place following a prescription from Dr. Shields. These aligners gradually move your teeth and after two weeks are replaced by the next step. They are discreet and do not change your daily routine. Simply remove them to eat and perform your daily oral hygiene routine, and replace them when you are done. Not every case can be corrected with clear aligner systems however. Some teens will need to be referred to an orthodontist for traditional braces, but it never hurts to discuss your options.
Talking with your teens about their teeth can seem difficult, but never hesitate to bring their dentist into the conversation. At this Jacksonville, Florida dental practice we like to create lasting relationships with our patients and regard them as part of our dental family. We will be happy to discuss oral health and hygiene with your teen any day.