Seeing a pediatric dentist for your child makes sense. After all, you take your child to a pediatrician rather than an adult doctor. But what about your teenager? You may think that since teenagers have their permanent teeth, it could be time to make the switch to a general dentistry practice.
However, as it turns out, considering a pediatric dentist for teenagers can be advantageous. Like with younger children, pediatric dentists have a wide range of knowledge about the unique dental issues facing your teen. Here are some of the areas of expertise that your pediatric dentist has about your teenager.
Rapid Development During Teenage Years
Your child’s teenage years are a time for all sorts of growth, and that includes their teeth. Most children will have all of their adult teeth by the time they hit age 13. It’s imperative that, during this time, a dentist for teenagers monitors the growth and development of the permanent teeth. If your child continues to see their same pediatric dentist as they transition into their teen years, it allows the dentist to track and evaluate tooth development.
Teenagers with braces are a common sight, and that’s because most issues that require orthodontic treatment become apparent during the teenage years. A pediatric dentist is trained to spot these problems early on. Your teen’s dentist will note any issues with crowding or impaction, and they will evaluate your teen’s bite as their jaw continues to develop.
Increased Risk for Cavities
The highest rate of cavity formation occurs during adolescence, which means that it’s incredibly important to make sure that your teen is getting the dental care they need. As children approach teenagerhood, they may show less interest in oral care. Teens also lack the benefit of getting parental help with things like brushing and flossing. Teenagers with braces may also struggle with tooth decay if they don’t take proper care to clean teeth behind their orthodontic hardware.
Luckily, a dentist for teenagers can help stop tooth decay in its tracks. Making sure that your teen visits the dentist every 6 months will allow the dentist to identify and treat any problem areas that may arise.
Increased Risk for Gum Disease
Teenagers aren’t just at an increased risk for cavities. They also have a higher likelihood of developing gum disease than ever before. Your teenager’s hormones can dramatically affect the gum tissue. Increased hormone levels change the bacterial makeup and blood circulation in and around the gums. When combined with the lax dental care that is common in teens, these changes can create the perfect storm for gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Teenagers with braces and other orthodontic treatment pose a unique challenge, since they are even more likely to suffer from improper oral hygiene habits. A pediatric dentist for teenagers will help your teen get a handle on their oral health habits. With regular check ups, the dentist can monitor any gum issues to make sure things don’t get serious.
As children turn into teenagers, those who stick with sports start to get more serious. Teenagers are stronger and faster than they were as children, and while this means they’re getting better at their sport, it also leads to an increase in sports-related injuries. A pediatric dentist for teenagers is equipped to handle all sorts of sports-related dental problems.
Of course, preventive dental care is recommended. Your teenager’s dentist can fit them with a custom mouth guard that can help keep their teeth safe during sports. A custom-made mouthguard offers a better, more comfortable fit that boil-and-bite mouthguards that can be made at home, thus offering a higher level of protection. This is especially important for teenagers with braces, since injuries can be compounded by orthodontic hardware.
Unfortunately, eating disorders are common in teenagers, especially in girls. More than 10 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Eating disorders negatively impact so many things about your teen’s health, and these problems even extend to their oral health. Eating disorders sap your teen of the proper nutrition they need, and this can lead to bleeding gums and chronic dry mouth. Teens with bulimia may experience issues related to stomach acid eroding their teeth.
Your dentist for teenagers can provide you and your teen with resources for getting help with eating disorders. Ideally, teens struggling with eating disorders should seek professional help. In the meantime, the dentist can help your teen mitigate any damage their disorder may cause to their teeth.
No matter how many times you tell them not to, some teenagers are bound to experiment with smoking or tobacco use. Around 20% of high school students reported using tobacco products, and 90% of adult smokers said that they started their habit before age 19.
A dentist for teenagers will help educate your teenager on the oral-specific dangers of tobacco use, including:
- stained teeth and tongue
- bad breath
- dulled sense of taste and smell
- slower healing after dental procedures
- gum disease
- oral cancer
Your teen’s dentist will provide them with information and resources to help them kick their tobacco habit. Meanwhile, regular dental visits can help minimize permanent damage.
It’s normal for your child to become more concerned with their appearance as they enter their teenage years. If your teenager has been complaining about yellow teeth, consider bringing them to the dentist.
While there are many tooth whitening options available over the counter at your local pharmacy, the safest and most effective way to whiten teeth is by professional treatment. It’s a simple way for teens to get a confidence boost.
Teenagers with braces may be especially interested in tooth whitening. Once the braces come off, there can be some discoloration beneath the brackets. Teeth whitening can help even out the look of their teeth.
Teenagers are prone to experimentation, and that can take the form of body piercing. If your teen decides to get a tongue, lip, cheek, or uvula piercing, it’s worth seeing a dentist for teenagers who understands the effects that these piercings can have on their oral health.
Teenagers with oral piercings should be aware of some of the common issues that may occur, including:
- infection, pain, and swelling
- damage to gums, teeth, and fillings
- hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to metals
- nerve damage
- excessive drooling
A dentist for teenagers can help mitigate these issues. Regular dental visits will allow the dentist to check for any oral issues the piercing may be causing.
While it’s best if your teenager stays away from oral piercings altogether, many teens don’t want to be talked out of their life choices. If your teenager has a dentist who lectures them about their piercings, it can cause resentment and reluctance to visit the dentist. A dentist for teenagers who helps them manage their oral health no matter what is an important step towards continued good oral health.
Your third molars, colloquially known as wisdom teeth, usually start to come in between ages 17 and 21. When wisdom teeth erupt correctly, they can aid in chewing. However, many people experience issues with their wisdom teeth. If your teenager doesn’t have room in their mouth for their wisdom teeth to erupt or the teeth come through in the wrong position, it’s cause for concern.
A dentist for teenagers will monitor incoming wisdom teeth with dental x-rays. Once the wisdom teeth start to appear, you can discuss options with your dentist. If wisdom teeth are impacted, that means they are trapped under the jaw or gums. Often in these cases, the wisdom teeth will have to be surgically removed to prevent problems from developing. Wisdom teeth may also have to be removed if other issues occur, such as:
- damage to neighboring teeth
- gum disease
- tooth decay
Wisdom tooth extraction is a relatively common procedure. For teenagers with braces, the dentist may recommend removal of the wisdom teeth to improve orthodontic outcomes.
Pediatric dentist aren’t just for young children. Pediatric dentists are trained to tackle all of the oral health intricacies of children of all ages, and that includes teenagers. A dentist for teenagers should be attuned to the unique issues that they face, including wisdom teeth, and smoking, increased risk for cavities. If left to their own devices, teenagers likely won’t give their teeth the attention they need.
Making sure that your teen visits the dentist regularly will help keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime. To make your teenager’s next dental appointment, contact Children’s Dentistry today.