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By the time a child is 10 or older, they have hopefully already developed a good twice-daily habit of tooth brushing and flossing. It may be unreasonable to expect a child to never eat lollies and never drink soft drinks, but we can at least encourage moderation.
But when the teenage years come around, they may become more image-conscious and motivated to look after their perfect smile of new adult teeth.
There are a few dental risks and treatments that most commonly occur during the teenage years.
It is at this age that we are probably at our most active; weekend sports, school sports, playground games, skateboarding, roller skating and more. And so we should!
But all these physical activities come with an increased risk of injury — chipping, fracturing or even knocking out a tooth.
A mouthguard cushions and protects the teeth and gums from any impacts that could otherwise become a dental emergency.
Read more about Oral Health and Sport
Most orthodontic treatments are carried out during our teenage years — the infamous braces. Once the adult permanent teeth have come through, it is the best time to correct any misalignment or malocclusion (bad bite).
Although many view braces as a cosmetic treatment for the perfect smile, often they are a required orthodontic treatment to correct a problem that could worsen over time. Uncorrected, a malocclusion or crooked teeth can cause problems with eating and speaking, while increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.
There are many different styles of braces. Some plastic braces are coloured to match the teeth. Other traditional metal braces are available in a number of colours to be a little more attractive. Depending on the orthodontic correction required, a removable clear retainer may also be an option.
Dental braces are usually worn for 12-24 months to achieve the necessary correction. While wearing braces, it is even more important to brush and floss teeth regularly, particularly to remove any food particles trapped in the wires and various other nooks and crannies.
Read more about Dental Braces
The last adult teeth to arrive are the wisdom teeth, sometimes called the third molars. The name is due to their arrival usually coinciding with our transition into maturity and adulthood.
Usually, these latecomers arrive four or more years after the rest of the adult teeth — between the ages of 17 and 21. There is no set schedule, with each wisdom tooth arriving when it wants, and not necessarily together.
But just as when the other adult teeth arrived nearly a decade before, sometimes the wisdom teeth may not come through in the correct position or may not have enough room. This can cause trauma to the surrounding teeth and the jaw or result in the wisdom teeth becoming ‘impacted’.
Wisdom teeth may also need to be extracted as part of another dental treatment, such as dental braces.
Read more about Wisdom Teeth
Most adult smokers lit their first cigarette as a teenager. There are many, many well-known reasons why smoking is not only bad for you, it can be lethal. But the damage to you, including oral and dental health, begins with that very first smoke.
Every cigarette contributes to the ugly staining of teeth and the tongue. It also reduces the mouth’s ability to heal after oral surgery, increases the risk of gum disease and tooth loss, dulls the sense of smell and taste and can eventually lead to oral cancer.
There is no safe level of smoking. Every cigarette does damage. The only protection is to never light that first cigarette. But if it’s too late to suggest that, there are plenty of resources and programs to help you quit.
Self-image and fashion are very important to teenagers. In recent years, fashions have included tongue, lip and cheek piercings. But these can increase the risk of chipped or cracked teeth and receding gums, provide more opportunities for extreme infections or create new places for bacteria to gather.
Encouraging your teen to continue receiving basic dental care is a lot easier, thanks to the Liberal Government’s Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS).
As of 1 January 2014, eligible teenagers aged up to 17 years can access a range of free dental services including assessments to monitor their changing jaw, cleaning, fillings, root canals and more. The total benefit is capped at $1000 over a two year calendar period. Benefits will not be paid for orthodontic and cosmetic treatments.
Requirements: Child is aged two-17, holds a current Medicare card and is part of a family in receipt of Tax Benefit Part A or receives a relevant Australian Government payment.
For more information about the schedule and eligibility, read Child Dental Benefits Scheme. Help your teen keep their permanent adult teeth for life by scheduling an appointment with a Dental Care Network dentist today.
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