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Oral Health and Teenagers

If your teenager has always been in the habit of caring for their teeth the likelihood is they will continue as they get older.

The responsibility for keeping their teeth clean and healthy has to begin to sit with them now. Parents and carers still have an important role in supporting and reminding their children to care for their teeth.

  • Flossing and Interdental Care

    As your child gets older they should be more able to manage to keep the surfaces in between their teeth clean.  They should do this using flossing / interdental brushes – food debris between teeth can cause decay and gum disease if not cleaned well.

    The videos here and here show you how to floss.

    Your dental team can give you advice on this too.

  • Your dentist may recommend orthodontic work to straighten your child’s teeth and / or to improve overcrowding

    Depending on how crooked their teeth are, and how it is likely to affect them, will depend if the treatment is available on the NHS or will need to be privately funded

    There is advice on caring for your braces and keeping your teeth and gums healthy here

    Once braces are removed your child will need to wear a retainer brace  to stop the teeth moving back into their old position

  • Active young people sometimes results in teeth getting injured.

    If your child takes part in contact sports it is wise to use a mouth guard to reduce the risk of injury. Your dental team can give you advice on this.

    If your child does injure a tooth you should seek advice as soon as possible – call your dentist, or if it is  out of hours you can contact 111

    If a tooth does come out - place the tooth in milk in a sealed container to maintain best condition possible -  take with you to the dentist as soon as possible

  • Chewing sugar free gum has been shown to reduce tooth decay.

    Chewing a sugar free gum after eating increases saliva in the mouth - this is the natural defence against acids and bacteria that cause tooth decay.

    • Chew after food and drinks when you cannot brush your teeth.
    • Make sure it is sugar free
    • Chew for about 20minutes
    • Chewing gum should happen as well as brushing teeth twice a day, not instead of!
    • Chewing gum is not recommended for children seven and younger
    • Chewing gum is not recommended if you are wearing braces
  • Smoking is bad for your dental health.

    • The Tar and Nicotine stain teeth brown
    • Harmful bacteria in teeth is increased and blood supply decreased – this leads to gum disease and can cause tooth loss
    • It increases the chance of mouth cancers

    Vaping is relatively new and so the log term affects on oral health are not certain. It is currently thought to be less harmful than smoking tobacco

    • If nicotine based vape juice is used it can cause gum disease
    • It may cause tooth staining

    Drugs can cause dental problems

    • They are often mixed with tobacco so have the same risks as smoking
    • They can cause craving for sweet foods and drinks causing tooth decay
    • They can cause a dry mouth which means there is less saliva to protect teeth from bacteria and acids
    • Teeth grinding can damage the surface of the teeth
  • Oral piercings of the tongue or lip have become more common and many young people choose to do this.

    There is no minimum age for piercings in England – children and young people can consent for themselves  (many places who do piercings impose their own age limits)

    It is important your child has all the facts of how this could affect their oral health.

    Piercings in the mouth can be a cause of damage to teeth and carry health risks

    • Tooth enamel can be chipped and cracked causing damage requiring dental treatment
    • It can affect speech – causing lisps and slurring
    • It can make chewing and swallowing difficult
    • Piercing can cause blood loss and has a risk of blood borne infections like Hepatitis B
    • It can cause permanent numbness to the tongue
    • The mouth has bacteria that could pass into the blood stream whilst the piercing wound is new causing sepsis

    If your child has decided to have an oral piercing they should;

    • Choose a place to have the piercing that is clean and registered with the local authority (this means it will be checked for basic hygiene levels)
    • Keep their mouth as clean as possible with regular brushing
    • Use an antiseptic mouthwash (an hour after brushing)
    • See their dentist to discuss how to keep their mouth healthy
    • Not ‘play or fiddle’ with the piercing as this increases damage to tooth enamel
    • Follow the advice from Public Health England on care of Oral Piercing here

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum. CLICK HERE

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