Adolescence is a transition between childhood and adulthood (around ages eleven to eighteen). It's a stressful period filled with major physical and chemical changes. Addressing the oral health needs of this age group requires not only treating identified dental problems, but also considering the complicated interactions of developmental changes on oral health needs.
As adolescents begin to take responsibility for their own dental health, education and promotion of preventive care is very important. Our pediatric dentists, assistants, and staff understand the importance of proper dental care for teenagers and adolescents. We provide age-specific dental care focused on the unique needs of teens and adolescents throughout San Luis Obispo County, including Atascadero, Paso Robles, and Templeton.
Oral hygiene is difficult for patients during the teen years because hormonal changes can promote gingival inflammation. Adolescent gums might become swollen, turn red, feel tender, and bleed more easily. It’s important to make adolescent patients aware of the dangers of periodontal disease early. Data suggest that irreversible tissue damage from periodontal disease begins in late adolescence and early adulthood. Preventive orthodontic care may also need to be initiated during this time.
If gingival inflammation is only slight, with very little bacterial plaque biofilm formation, but bone loss around the newly erupted permanent first molars and lower anteriors is severe, early aggressive periodontitis may be suspected. Early intervention by the dental team in this serious, but rare, periodontal disease can prevent further bone loss in the adult jaws. Scientists believe that this is caused by a deficiency in white blood cell function.
Adolescence marks a period of significant caries activity for many. Current research suggests that the overall caries rate is declining, yet remains highest during adolescence. The following tips can help reduce the chance of tooth decay:
In addition, fluoridation has proven the most effective caries prevention measure.The adolescent can benefit from fluoride treatment throughout the teenage years and into early adulthood. This can be accomplished through water fluoridation, professionally-applied and home-use prescribed topical methods, and fluoride toothpastes. Since most carious lesions are confined to developmental pits and fissures, teens should be rechecked to make sure all necessary sealants have been placed and are adhering properly to the tooth.
Adolescence is a time of accelerated growth with increasing caloric needs. But if poor choices are made, it can take a toll on oral health. Nearly a third of our nation's adolescents are overweight, and recent research suggests a connection between obesity in adolescents and the incidence of periodontal disease later in life. Diet may be one significant cause for this increased risk of periodontal disease since dietary research trends in adolescents show a significant decrease in raw fruit and non-potato vegetables (all sources of vitamin C) and lower calcium intakes.
It is also important to remember that a diet used by teens to lose rapid weight usually includes high levels of caffeine, protein, and sodium, which by studies appears to increase bone loss. Surveys also show that most young women consume less than half the amount of calcium needed to maintain healthy bones, placing them at serious risk for osteoporosis and other bone diseases in the future.
Image is everything to today's teens. So, it's not surprise that teeth whitening and straight teeth are top concerns among adolescents. As adolescents express interest in beautifying their smiles, it's important to underscore the importance of good oral hygiene habits and proper nutrition often hinders a healthy smile.
Invisalign Teen® takes a modern approach to straightening teeth. With a series of clear aligners that gradually straighten your teeth, Invisalign Teen is comfortable, affordable and effective. (Learn more about Invisalign.)