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Common Dental Concerns for Teens (and What Parents Can Do)

Girl with teeth braces
Parenthood changes drastically as kids grow into teens, but some things stay the same. All parents want to protect their offspring. However, some common dental concerns for teens are difficult to discuss. No matter how challenging it feels, you should consider dental problems that are common during adolescence and take action to help your teens cope with them.

Getting Braces Can Be a Life-Changing Experience for Teens

Since before Marcia Brady called herself "ugly, ugly, ugly" when she got braces as a young teen on The Brady Bunch, young people have struggled to maintain their self-esteem when they get braces. However, braces are truly a positive thing that can help prepare teenagers for a lifetime of enjoying a beautiful smile.

It's important for parents to set the tone when teens need to get braces. Talk about how braces are an investment in the future.  Discuss the short-term sacrifices that result in long-term benefits. For example, teens may need to give up certain foods while they have braces, but the trade-off of fixing a bad bite, alignment issues or other problem is clearly worth it.

Also, give teens choices when it's practical to do so. Braces come in many different styles and forms. Even traditional braces are now lighter and easier to live with than they used to be. Ceramic braces may be less visible, which can help teens who are image-conscious. Invisalign and other retainer devices can sometimes be used as an alternative to braces.

Smoking Can Be a Deadly Habit Teens Start

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caution that tobacco use in any form isn't safe for teens, and says that around 5.6 million American teens who smoke are likely to die early from a smoking-related illness if current rates of smoking continue. Sadly, smoking is all too common among teenagers, and it can wreak havoc on their dental health as well as their overall health.

On a superficial level, smoking causes bad breath, which can lead to teasing and failures in your teen's personal life. Smoking can cause stains on the teeth and tongue that are anything but aesthetically appealing. You may talk to teens about how this can ruin dating opportunities. However, it's also important to discuss the more serious implications of smoking.  

Teens who smoke may have a duller sense of smell and taste because of the effects of the tobacco. If they need to have oral surgery or have a tooth pulled, they may experience slower healing and more complications during their recovery. They may also be more likely to experience gum disease. Teens who smoke are also more likely to have oral cancer.

So what can you do as a parent? Educate your kids about the dangers of smoking. Set strict rules about not smoking. Offer rewards for teens who don't smoke. You may even suggest that teens volunteer for school programs against smoking that will further educate them on why smoking can be detrimental to their health and will connect them with likeminded peers.

Wisdom Teeth May Need to Be Removed During Adolescence 

Older teenagers may need to have their wisdom teeth pulled. Although that's common for many young people, it can cause anxiety in some teens. Wisdom teeth tend to come in when young people are between the ages of 17 and 21. When the wisdom teeth don't have the room to grow in or are in a problematic position, they need to be removed.

Talk to your teens about their wisdom teeth and encourage them to have a discussion with their dentist about the topic. Sometimes, teens opt to have their wisdom teeth removed as a preventative measure. Wisdom teeth sometimes damage teeth next to them, and dentists can help teens determine whether their wisdom teeth are a possible issue.

Encouraging your teens to have good dental habits can have a positive long-term impact on their health. Teens who take care of their oral health today are more likely to continue doing so and enjoy healthy teeth and gums in their adulthood. Contact Advanced Dental Care for your teen's next dental check-up.