How Teens Can Develop a Healthy Smile

How Teens Can Develop a Healthy Smile

Oct 28, 2013

It’s important for teens to take good care of their teeth, just as it is for people of all ages. Good oral health includes brushing twice daily, flossing each day, and seeing the dentist for regular checkups. In addition, there are specific issues that affect teens that you also need to be aware of.


Most people think braces make your teeth straighter so that they look attractive. However, braces are necessary for other reasons too. Untreated orthodontic problems can make it difficult to eat. A bad bite can also increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease because a bad bite can make it hard to clean your teeth.

The good news is that you are not limited to the type of braces your parents had to wear when they were teens. Now there are many styles available, including tooth-colored plastic braces, metal braces in a variety of colors, and removable clear retainers. Ask your dentist to discuss your options with you at your next visit.


Oral piercings have become popular with teens, yet they can be dangerous to your dental health. You can easily develop an infection as there are millions of bacteria in your mouth. You can even end up with a serious systemic infection such as hepatitis.

Piercings in your mouth can also cause your tongue to swell. A swollen tongue can close off your airway, and increase your risk of choking. In addition, biting hard on a piercing can damage your teeth. Talk with your dentist if you are considering oral piercings.


You already know that smoking cigarettes is dangerous for your lungs.  However, tobacco use negatively impacts your oral health too. It’s not just cigarettes that are bad for you, either. Any form of tobacco is harmful and can cause oral cancer. Tobacco use can also lead to gum disease, which means you can end up losing your teeth permanently. Additionally, tobacco use affects the way you:

  • Look. Tobacco stains your teeth and tongue and can make it difficult to correct cosmetic dental issues.
  • Smell. Tobacco gives you bad breath. It also affects the way things smell to you.
  • Taste. When you use tobacco, it dulls your senses and affects the way things taste.

Eating Disorders

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, more than 10 million Americans suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Although eating disorders stem from physical, emotional, and social issues, they can also seriously impact your dental health.

  • Bleeding gums. Poor nutrition causes your gums to bleed.
  • Chronic dry mouth.  A poor diet can lead to decreases saliva which causes dry mouth.
  • Chipped and broken teeth. Frequent vomiting damages the enamel on your teeth, causing them to chip and break.

People with eating disorders need counseling and should see their health care providers right away for support and assistance.

Wisdom Teeth

Most of your permanent teeth arrive by the time you turn 13. However, your wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to come in and usually appear from ages 17-21. When they don’t have enough room to grow in, or start growing in the wrong position, your dentist may need to remove them. Sometimes wisdom teeth are removed to make room for braces. Your dentist will monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth when you come in for your routine exams, as everyone’s teeth grow in differently.

Of course the best way to take care of your teeth is by brushing and flossing. See your dentist at least once every six months for a thorough cleaning and routine exam. Then you will have a beautiful smile for years to come.

Image Source – D Sharon Pruitt:

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