How to Make Sure Teens are Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

Your teen’s smile enhances their confidence and self-esteem. It’s one of the first things that will attract people to them. That’s why it’s so important to take good care of the teeth starting as soon as possible. Teens lead very busy and active lifestyles, which unfortunately can translate into less time spent on dental hygiene. Following these recommendations will help your teen maintain and sustain quality oral health.

Set a Routine

It is recommended that a person brush at least two to three times per day with a fluoride toothpaste in addition to flossing at least once per day.  Over time they’ll get used to the routine.  Doing so will help prevent tooth decay, plaque build-up and gum disease. 


Dental plaque loves sugar and carbohydrates.  Healthy snacks like fruits and veggies can actually help clean teeth, so encourage your teens to eat smart when it comes to snacking.  A diet that’s rich in nutrients is also going to benefit dental health over many years.

Regular Dental Visits

We’re aware that teens maintain an active lifestyle, but routinely seeing a general dentist during the teen years is important for the general development of their teeth and mouth.  Just because they saw a kid’s dentist routinely and all of their permanent teeth have come in doesn’t mean that the health of their teeth, gums and bone are optimal.  Ignored or untreated dental conditions are going to detract from their overall health and smile, so make sure they get a cleaning every six months. 


Oral piercings might be popular with kids, but they can chip or break teeth.  If your teen is set on it, some piercings are safer than others.   We can make our recommendations if needed. 

Mouth Guards

Dental injuries occur every year in sports. If your teen is involved in sports, they can prevent dental injuries by wearing a mouth guard.  They’re highly recommended and are custom fitted.

Kids Using Tobacco: Why Kids Smoke and the Risk of Using Tobacco

There is a number of health risks associated with smoking, yet teenagers continue to smoke and/or use smokeless tobacco. Each day, there are approximately 3900 children between the ages 12-17 smoke their first cigarette. Over 950 of them will become regular smokers and about half of them will die from smoking in adulthood. For these reasons, it is essential that children understand the dangers associated with smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco.

Why Kids Begin Smoking

There are several reasons why children may start smoking. Some of the most common reasons children may be attracted to smoking and/or chewing tobacco include:

  • To act older
  • To lose weight
  • To look cool
  • To do something dangerous
  • To satisfy curiosity
  • To appear tough
  • To feel independent
  • To win tobacco related merchandise

Signs Your Child May Be Smoking

It is essential as a parent to establish good communication with children early to make tricky issues, like smoking, easier. Giving children information about the risks associated with smoking may help to protect them from this unhealthy habit. Ask your child’s dentist to talk with them about the risks to their oral health from smoking and if you suspect your child may be using tobacco products, make sure they see a kid’s dentist as soon as possible. Warning signs your child is smoking may include:

  • Odor of smoke on their clothing
  • Bad breath
  • Frequent complaints of throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in their athletic performance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stained and/or yellow teeth

The Oral and Physical Health Risks of Tobacco Use

Smoking and/or using smokeless tobacco kills hundreds of people each year. Tobacco contains nicotine and several other poisonous chemicals that cause a range of diseases, including heart problems and cancer. Tobacco use can have a significant impact on the overall oral health of a child. Some of the effects of smoking and using smokeless tobacco may include:

  • Throat cancer
  • Mouth cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum disease
  • Stained teeth

To help prevent your children from using tobacco products, it is important to discuss the issue in a way that doesn’t make kids fear a punishment or feel as though they are being judged. It is also important to continue talking to children about the dangers of tobacco use throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Discuss ways your child can respond to smoking and peer pressure and encourage their self-confidence, which will help protect them against peer pressure. Visit a kids’ dentist with your child for more information on the dangers of smoking and oral health.

The Cons of Oral Piercings for Teens

After months and months of begging, you finally gave in and let your teenager get an oral piercing. Now your kid may be the biggest hit at school, but in the meantime, your trepidations have returned. As a good parent, you’re right to feel some reservations about your teen’s tongue piercing. This can actually be a big source of trouble for the mouth and could even cause dental problems and diseases.

The biggest and most obvious risk, as with all piercings, is that of infection.  The mouth contains millions of bacteria and unlike a skin infection in the ear or nose caused from an earring, if your teen’s mouth gets an infection from a piercing, the area will swell up significantly and be very painful.  In the case of a large infection, your child’s airway could even be restricted, which could be deadly.

Even if your kid doesn’t have an infection from his or her piercing, other oral problems can and do occur more subtly over time. First of all, constantly exposing the teeth to the metal of the piercing can strip away enamel, whether it’s a ball-shaped barbell or a traditional ring. Once enamel is gone, it doesn’t return. The teeth may look unattractive and are at a higher risk of developing cavities.

Besides that, your teenager can also find himself saddled with localized periodontal disease that they most likely wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Periodontal disease occurs when the gums recede.  When the gums start to recede, the bone that holds the teeth in is typically lost as well and your kid’s teeth can possibly fall out in the advanced stages if they develop this disease.

Other little annoyances can occur with an oral piercing as well, such as an increase of drooling, increased chance of cracking or chipping the teeth or dental restorations, bad breath if the piercing is not cleaned multiple times daily, and the development of a speech impediment. More seriously, if a tongue piercing is not done carefully, nerve damage is also a possibility.  This can affect the person’s ability to taste, talk and move the tongue.

Parents that are having second thoughts about their teen’s oral piercing can come by and visit Playtime Dental to discuss the next steps, including removal. Appropriate for children of all ages, the atmosphere at this kids’ dentist is designed to make young patients feel at ease as they learn how to take better care of their teeth and mouths.