What To Know for Adolescents
Yup, they likely still have some left! Kids usually have more baby teeth to lose at this point, but should be done losing teeth by the age of 12 or 13.
All of your child’s permanent teeth will be in by around the age of 12 or 13 also, except for the wisdom teeth. These third molars can erupt as late as 21 years old, but we’ll keep an eye on them and keep you posted about whether or not your child will need to have those extracted with an oral surgeon.
As tweens and teens continue to grow and change, their oral health also continues to evolve. At this age, we start to see more plaque build up on the teeth and under the gums, so the dentist may start to scale (or scrape with a dental instrument) your child’s teeth at their visit.
As adolescents take over oral hygiene completely on their own, our biggest concerns are regular brushing and flossing done well. This means thorough brushing two times a day for at least two minutes, and flossing at least once a day. Continue to “spot check” to look for a job well done—lifting the lips to make sure they aren’t missing the most upper and lower parts of their teeth, which is pretty common.
Bad breath can really kick in at this age, and age appropriate mouthwash can be a great addition to the overall routine. However, it is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Ask your tween to add brushing their tongue into their daily routine if you notice an issue.
Sports & Energy Drinks: Use With Caution
Sports and energy drinks become a popular item as your child starts to play organized sports more regularly. However, they are definitely something to use with extreme caution. Most ideally, we’d encourage avoiding them all together and sticking with water for hydration purposes.
There can be a lot of confusion between sports and energy drinks. Sports drinks—which contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes, and flavoring—are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise. Energy drinks contain substances not found in sports drinks that act as stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana, and taurine. Many adolescents don’t realize the amount of caffeine they are ingesting, which can be harmful to their health.
Most sports and energy drinks contain high amounts of two things that are very harmful to teeth: sugar and acid. Especially with repeated consumption throughout the day or during the course of a game or practice, sugar and acid will repeatedly attack the natural defenses teeth have to prevent decay.
Your child will be evaluated regularly during these years to see if they may need orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontics are often recommended to help with the growth and development of a person’s mouth, the appearance and alignment of teeth, and the overall health of the mouth by relieving excess pressure in certain areas of the bite.
A panoramic x-ray, or an “outside of the mouth” x-ray, will help to get a better idea of how your child’s teeth are progressing. If we feel your child would benefit from a consultation with an orthodontist, we can share this x-ray with the office you schedule with, and will keep in contact with that provider to help provide oral health care during the treatment time.
Oral hygiene is so important during this time, so we will review instructions with your child regularly at their cleaning appointments.
Hot Topics: Whitening, Piercings, & Tobacco Use
As an adolescent’s permanent teeth start to come in next to their primary teeth, we are asked a lot of questions about tooth coloring and options for whitening. We usually recommend waiting until all baby teeth are out and permanent teeth are in for any type of treatment like this. Then we can definitely review options with you at that time. Baby and adult teeth can naturally be different colors, and the contrast can sometimes make the adult teeth look more yellow than they actually are.
The teen years are a popular time to think about oral piercings. It’s important for your teen to know that these piercings can definitely have adverse effects on the health of your child’s tongue, lips, cheeks, and uvula (the “dangly” flap of skin at the back of your throat). Oral problems associated with swallowed/aspirated jewelry, speech impairment, fractured teeth, and gum recession can also occur.
Unfortunately, tobacco use is started and established primarily during adolescence. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18. These products contain toxins that can cause various types of cancer, gum disease, bad breath, tooth discoloration, and a diminished sense of smell.
Dental Emergencies: What To do
- If you can, try to re-implant the tooth. Even if it’s not quite perfect, being back in the mouth gives the tooth a better chance of staying alive until you can get to the dentist.
- Call us right away! This is an urgent dental emergency and your child will need to be seen as soon as possible.
- Call us right away! Fast action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
- Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
- If you can find the broken tooth fragment, bring it with you to the appointment.
Call us—we’ll walk you through a series of questions to help determine what may be causing the pain and whether or not you need to come see us.