“I worry about my smile. What can I do?” Dental worries of adolescents and teens are most often about appearance. Here’s how to have beautiful teeth:
Like you, most teens and pre-teens have concerns about how their teeth look. You want your teeth to be white and straight. You hope you have a nice smile. You definitely don’t want bad breath.
How difficult is that to achieve? Here are the facts so you can make smart decisions about your smile.
1. Your teeth reflect what is going on in the rest of your body. Good nutrition really does affect the overall health of your mouth, including the appearance of your teeth. Eating healthful foods, especially snacks, will reduce the risk of both cavities and stains. Your tooth enamel can be greatly affected by what you eat and drink. Once your enamel is gone, it’s gone forever. Protecting that enamel is important to your oral health and the look of your teeth.
Does your school vending machine have some good choices? If not, bringing them from home can be your best bet.
Here is a list of foods that won’t hurt your teeth:
- Cheese (especially Cheddar, Swiss and Mozzarella)
- Popcorn (don’t eat those half-popped kernels though!)
- Fresh fruit (but be sure to wash it down with water afterward)
- Water is not only good for your skin and organs, it’s great for your teeth!
- Yogurt or cottage cheese
- Sugarfree gum
Stay away from:
- Foods that stick to your teeth
- Sugars – candy bars, dried fruits, peanut butter with sugar.
- Citrus juices or fruits – like lemons or limes
- Coffee, Tea, Koolaid and Soda
- Chewy Granola bars
- High sugar cereals
2. Brushing twice a day and flossing really do make all the difference!
Studies show that teens who consistently brush and floss have much healthier and whiter teeth and gums – throughout their lives. And don’t forget your tongue! Bacteria thrive on your tongue as well as your teeth and gums. If you remember to take care of your teeth, gums and tongue, your breath will be clean and fresh.
3. You don’t have to live with stains!
Preventing stains in the first place is easiest. Stay away from the enamel-dissolving foods and drinks (listed above) as well as coffee and tea. If you do eat or drink a staining food or drink, rinse your mouth afterward with fresh water.
Smoking, chewing tobacco and drugs are not only bad for your body, they are terrible for your teeth and gums. Smoking not only creates ugly stains on your teeth, it contributes to early gum disease. Chewing tobacco does the same and it greatly increases your chance for mouth cancer. Drugs (legal or illegal) can cause dry mouth and malnutrition, both causes for tooth decay. And your breath? These cause the worst bad breath.
If you do find that you have stains on your teeth, don’t try to remove them yourself. Dr. K can evaluate the staining and make recommendations for you that work well.
4. Piercings in or around your mouth can be dangerous!
We see broken teeth as a result of tongue piercings, from teens accidentally biting on the metal hoop or stud. Frenum piercing can contribute to gum disease by pulling the gums away from the teeth, allowing bacteria to enter. People who do piercings usually follow sterile procedures to prevent infection, however, sometimes they fail to properly clean instruments. This can result in serious, even deadly, staph or viral infections.
5.. Are your teeth crooked? Does it make you feel embarrassed to smile?
You aren’t alone. Many kids need orthodontia (braces). Dr. K can examine your teeth and jaw and make a referral to an orthodontist if she feels it’s warranted. In the meantime, you are in good company. Over 50% of kids need braces. Chances are, your friends only notice your beautiful smile – not any misaligned teeth.
6. We’re here to help you! Our office only treats kids – from babies to adulthood. We understand the unique concerns of teens and will always show you the respect of honesty and help you make good choices. Dental worries of adolescents and teens may be more about appearance, but YOU have the tools to get, and keep, those beautiful teeth.