Teenagers take great pride in their appearance, but they seem to miscalculate the work it entails to maintain a healthy smile. Add in their new found independence and social lives and they’re just too busy to be giving extra attention to their teeth or to be going to their check-ups.
As a registered dental hygienist, I try to emphasize how important it is for adolescents to maintain proper dental hygiene. Did you know that dental decay is the most common chronic disease in young people between the ages of 5 and 17? Cavities are not just for little kids, and the fact that teeth are actually one of the first things people notice, it’s vital that teens make the effort to keeping their oral hygiene in good order.
Here are 5 easy tips your teens can use to not have to worry about ‘watching’ their mouths.
- Make it a part of your day: it’s easy to maintain dental health when it’s part of your daily routine of things to do; brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once can greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum buildup. If your teen wears dental braces, makes sure their brushing and flossing after every meal to avoid debris getting stuck to their teeth and wires
- Play it safe: it’s all fun and games until someone loses a tooth! More than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and jaw occur each year, so if your teen is involved in contact sports it’s important they use a mouth guard. Make sure they rinse it often and store it in a ventilated container
- Keep it clean: it’s normal to grab a quick snack in between classes or activities, but it’s what kind of snack they choose that’s important. Foods and drinks loaded with sugar can wreak havoc on teeth, causing cavities and damage the tooth enamel. Opt for something healthier like fruits, veggies and cheese sticks. Remember, apples are nature’s toothbrush!
- Where there’s smoke there’s….: studies continuously show tobacco users usually start smoking in their teens. It’s imperative that parents sit and discuss the health and dental consequences of using tobacco products, such as tooth and gum staining, dental tartar build-up and stinky breath.
- Avoid oral piercings: although tongue and lip piercings remain a trend with teens, it’s also very dangerous. Not only do you run the risk of having your tongue swell and sometimes become infected after being punctured, but you can also chip you teeth from the mouth jewelry which can cause the need for fillings and sometimes even a root canal.
Although thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the grooves to remove food and plaque.
Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often and protect these vulnerable areas by ‘sealing out’ plaque and food. They are very easy to be applied: your dental professional just paints them onto the tooth enamel where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. They can last for up to several years.
Make sure to schedule regular dental checkups to ensure the sealants don’t need to be reapplied and that no other dental issues are arising.
Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw and you’re pretty certain you weren’t in a fight? Teeth grinding (or bruxism as it’s medically known as) is most likely the culprit. One in three people suffer from bruxism—often caused by stress, pain or fear but sometimes from a more serious cause such as an abnormal bite or missing/crooked teeth.
A lot of us don’t even realize we’re chronic teeth grinders until symptoms like dull headaches, sore jaws and tense muscle begin to occur; and by that point some damage may have occurred to your teeth such as:
- Tooth sensitivity
- The chewing surfaces of teeth are flat
- Enamel has worn off
- Fracturing, loosening or losing of teeth
Severe grinding may even wear down the teeth stumps and result in bridges, crowns, root canals, implants and even dentures to be needed
It’s vital to seek dental treatment if you believe you suffer from bruxism. Your dental professional can help pin point the cause of your grinding and examine your mouth for signs such as teeth wear and jaw tenderness. They may offer you a custom made mouth guard to wear while you sleep—to absorb the strength of your teeth grinding and clenching. Other tips they may offer are:
- Try to avoid stressful situations
- Stay away from coffee, pop, chocolate or any other food and drink containing caffeine
- Try relaxing your jaw before bed by applying a warm washcloth against your cheek
- Stop chewing on pens, pencils, fingernails and even stopping to smoke can help
- Try to self-train yourself to not grind or clench by positioning your tongue between your teeth, this helps train the jaw muscles to relax.
As surprising as it may sound, teeth grinding is not just limited to adults; your little ones can suffer from it too! Anywhere from 15%-33% of children up to the age of 11 will grind their teeth at certain times in their lives—the majority being when their baby teeth are breaking through as well as when their permanent teeth come in.
Although it’s rare for any problems to occur from grinding of the baby teeth, they still can suffer from a sore jaw, headaches and/or tooth sensitivity, and should be monitored carefully.
Some tips to help your little ones stop their teeth grinding can include:
- Massaging them to relax their muscles
- Offering an over the counter pain medication if they are grinding from teething pain
- Decrease their stress before bed
- Making sure they are well hydrated as dehydration can be a cause of teeth grinding
- Avoid a lot of pop, chocolates, sport drinks and juices
The good news is that excessive treatment is not needed as most children will lose the habit once their teeth have fully grown in.
October 30, 2015
Those undergoing cancer treatment have to endure a lot – the path to better health is a difficult one. But there is one aspect of cancer treatment that isn’t widely known: how it negatively affects dental health, including the teeth, gums, salivary glands and other oral tissues.
When there are pre-existing dental issues such as cavities, abscesses, or gingivitis, the infection may become worse during treatment. Gums are more likely to become swollen and painful, with a higher probability of bleeding. Mouth sores may also occur during chemotherapy, and other mouth irritations often worsen.
These side effects can be painful, but there are ways to minimize & prevent them. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, we’ve compiled the information you need to know about dental health during cancer treatments.
- Medication: There are specific medications that can ease discomfort and prevent sores – these can be prescribed by a doctor. Pain medicine, such as Tylenol or stronger, may also be used. Always avoid using aspirin or non-steroidal medication (Advil, Motrin) during chemotherapy, as they can cause bleeding. For dry mouth, artificial saliva can be helpful.
- Work with your dental professional: Your dental hygienist and oncologist can work together to make you as comfortable as possible. Continuing with regularly-scheduled dental appointments so your hygienist can monitor your oral comfort and make changes as required is also important.
- Oral health routine: Unless otherwise recommended, continue to gently brush teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste, and gently floss once a day. If gums are sore or bleeding, avoid those areas but continue to floss the remainder of your teeth.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking at least eight glasses of water or juices daily can be helpful with many dental side effects including dry mouth, or xerostomia. Using lip balm can help prevent your lips from cracking, and cool mist humidifier will add much-needed needed moisture to your home.
- Food & drink: There are certain foods that you may want to avoid, such as spicy dishes, and anything that is difficult to chew. Tomato and citrus juices will also irritate any mouth sores you may have. Avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages is a smart idea, as they both promote mouth dryness. Some find that chewing sugarless gum or is helpful with their dry mouth.
With these tips and ongoing care from your dental professionals at DentalX, we can ensure that you are as comfortable as possible during treatment. Feel free to share this post during Breast Cancer Awareness month, and help others take the necessary steps to prevent these oral health side effects.
October 30, 2015
It’s hard to believe, but Halloween is already here. Children all over North America will be dressing up and heading door-to-door to collect treats from their neighbours. For a child it’s a fun an exciting holiday, getting to wear a costume and receive free candy! And while it’s fun for parents as well, it can also create some concern. How do you allow your child to enjoy their Halloween without worrying about the dental health risks?
We have some tips to ensure that your kids make the most of their Halloween, while keeping up their dental routine and staying cavity-free:
- Make sure that they continue to brush their teeth before bedtime. This is most important when Halloween candy is involved, as you want the sugars to be brushed away so they won’t sit on the teeth overnight.
- Keep up with daily flossing. While brushing is effective for little ones, flossing is important to clean between their teeth and avoid gum disease.
- Allow your children to eat only a piece or two of candy at a time. To avoid sugar overload, on the teeth and otherwise, keeping the Halloween loot as a special treat will also make the candy last longer.
- Ensure that they are not chomping down on hard candies, as this can break or damage a tooth.
- Keep the healthy snacks in rotation. Even though your kids have all these wonderful treats, it’s still important to keep fruits and vegetables in the mix. Not only are these healthy overall, they also help to clean teeth and neutralize harmful bacteria.
With these tips, you can keep you children’s teeth healthy while they enjoy their trick-or-treat goodies. Happy Halloween, everyone!
August 31, 2015
Your dental professionals at Dental-X can now be with you on the go, thanks to our brand new app! Recently launched, the DentalX app allows you to stay up-to-date with all news and info, plus learn more about services and promotions. And whenever you have a question or need an appointment, you can get in touch with just a quick click of a button.
To download the DentalX app, search “dentalx” within Google Play, or visit this link to download online via AppCatch. If you have any suggestions or concerns, please let us know – we’re still updating and adding to it as needed, and we would love your input.