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3 Mistakes That Could Hurt Your Teen's Smile

Smiling Teenage Boy
As soon as your teenager begins their journey into adulthood, you might be faced with a barrage of challenges as a parent, including keeping them safe and healthy. Unfortunately, many parents overlook bad habits that could impact their teen's smile for years to come. Here are three mistakes your teen might be making that could damage their teeth and how you can prevent problems.

1. Not Wearing Their Mouth Guard

Mouth guards are tray-like dental appliances that cushion the teeth inside the mouth. Although they are incredibly helpful at helping people to avoid problems like dental fractures, oral lacerations, and even knocked out teeth, your teen might not want to wear a mouth guard because of the way it looks or feels.

Standard, over-the-counter mouth guards are typically opaque and designed to be customized at home. After the guard is heated in boiling water or the microwave, the mouth card can be bitten to form a semi-custom impression. However, because the guards are designed as one-size-fits-all devices, they can cut into gum tissue or put extra pressure on the palate.

However, you might be able to increase mouth guard compliance by doing something as simple as taking your teen to see the dentist. By using custom molds of your child's smile, dentists can quickly and easily create custom mouth guards that fit the contours of your teen's mouth perfectly. Additionally, these guards can be made of clear acrylic, making them less noticeable on the field.

Custom mouth guards carry another important benefit: improved safety. Because custom guards are more comfortable, your teen may be less likely to skip the guard and endure dental trauma. Additionally, studies comparing custom versions to over-the-counter guards have found that custom mouth guards absorb more impact, which could even prevent injuries as serious as concussions. 

2. Overlooking Incoming Wisdom Teeth

The teens of today are busier than ever, worrying about everything from summer internships to college admission scores. Although your teenager might have a lot on their plate, overlooking incoming wisdom teeth can spell trouble for their smile.

Wisdom teeth typically erupt between the ages of 17-25, causing issues like pain, swelling, and infections. While wisdom teeth can erupt without any issues, impacted wisdom teeth can be incredibly painful and need to be surgically excised. Wisdom teeth can also crowd the periodontal arch, interfering with the alignment of the teeth and the bite.

To protect your child's smile from the perils of unneeded wisdom teeth, focus on bringing them to the dentist regularly during their teen years. Around the time they start to drive, ask your dentist to check the placement of incoming wisdom teeth.  

3. Experimenting With Smoking and Drinking

When your teen isn't preparing for their next big test, your child might be killing time with their friends trying new things. Unfortunately, some new things, such as smoking and drinking, can pave the way for a lifetime of dental problems.

In addition to tarnishing the smile with tar, smoking damages the oral mucosa by thickening the tissue in the mouth. Over time, this thickened tissue can interrupt blood supply, increasing the risk of infection and tooth loss. Drinking has been shown to cause the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, increasing the depth of gingival pockets and giving bacteria a convenient place to grow. Both habits are tied to higher periodontitis rates, which can lead to tooth loss.

As you talk with your teen about healthy lifestyle habits, explain the cosmetic and health risks involved with smoking and drinking. Consider showing your teen pictures of smiles damaged by these habits so your child understands the danger.

In addition to providing a little tough love for your teenager, always book them regular dental appointments with our team here at Carlino & Paton DDS PC. In addition to offering state-of-the-art preventative and restorative dentistry, our team can also help with cosmetic concerns like teeth whitening, veneers, and dental implants. Give us a call today to schedule a visit.