Teenagers are very susceptible to cavities and gum diseases, especially during puberty. The teenage period is the ideal time to set in place great healthy habits that will have lifelong benefits. Most of your dental concerns should be centered on solid preventive issues. Although your teenage life is very busy, you must take control of your own oral health.

Teach your teen to care for their teeth

To begin with, it is important to monitor your oral hygiene. Ideally, everyone should brush after every meal or at least after breakfast and before going to bed. During the long period of sleep, an unclean mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Please watch our oral hygiene video to review proper brushing and flossing techniques. Brush gently with a soft-bristled brush for a minimum of two minutes. Continual improper brushing could lead to tooth wear and sensitivity. Brushing and flossing will reduce bad breath, but you should not use mouthwash as a substitute to oral hygiene. Although fluoridated mouthwashes contain bacteria-fighting agents, they are not as effective as brushing and flossing to remove plaque. Fluoride rinses should be used in addition to brushing and flossing. The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist twice a year to ensure that you are keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Keeping your attractive smile healthy requires that you eat balanced meals and avoid junk food. Good eating habits keep your whole body, your teeth and your gums healthy. Eat a variety of food from all the major food groups. Avoid starchy, sticky and sugary foods that stick to your teeth for long periods of time. Be aware of the food that can weaken your teeth. Juices and sodas contain excessive amounts of sugar and acid that can wear down your enamel and cause cavities. Use a straw to help these drinks avoid contact with your teeth and to minimize damage to your mouth. We also recommend drinking water to flush away remaining food and beverages from the mouth. Good alternative food choices when snacking or in a rush include nuts, fresh fruits, raw vegetables, cheese, yogurt, milk and water.

Active teens are more vulnerable to dental trauma due to sports injuries and accidents. You will need to see us as soon as possible if you have a dental emergency. Visit our emergency dental section to familiarize yourself with what to do in such cases. Please wear your helmets and sports guards as indicated, especially when you might have rough contact with other players and hard surfaces. These guards will protect your teeth and jaws from fractures and tooth loss. We can provide you with custom-made mouth guards that will give you a much better fit than over-the-counter guards.

Athletes should pay as much attention to their oral health as their bodies. Fitness buffs often have cotton mouth, in which saliva is reduced because of heavy breathing. Too little saliva can lead to dental decay because saliva’s role is to protect teeth from acid in the mouth. This problem is exacerbated when athletes consume a diet rich in carbohydrates and drink a lot of sports drinks high in sugar. It is recommended to drink water instead to relieve dry mouth and use fluoride rinses to fight cavities.

Tooth damage can also result from habits such as clenching and grinding teeth (bruxism). Academic and social stresses can result in sensitivity and premature wear of the teeth due to bruxism. Grinding can also cause jaw soreness and clicking of the joints. If you are experiencing such symptoms, our dentist in Chicago, Illinois, could fit a night guard for you to wear in order to protect your teeth and your joints.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can damage your teeth for life by wearing down the tooth’s enamel. You could end up needing extensive dental procedures such as crowns, root canal treatments and extractions. When applicable, we will integrate eating disorder counseling with dental treatment. It is important that you are honest with us about your condition and trust that we can help and advise you about what is best for your health.

Habits such as cigarette smoking and chewing tobacco can have harmful effects on your total health. Chewing or smoking tobacco will cause staining of your teeth and bad breath. They can make you more prone to gingivitis and gum diseases. Please be aware of the risks of lung cancer and disfiguring surgeries following mouth cancer. Simply quit tobacco use of any kind!! Your life can be at stake!!!

Oral piercings are risks to your health and your teeth. Oral piercings can lead to tooth fractures by constantly hitting and chipping your teeth during talking and eating. Piercings can also cause swelling, painful infections, blood clots, blood poisoning and breathing problems. To treat dental fractures, you may need fillings, crowns or even root canals. A word of caution: think seriously about the risks involved before getting any oral piercing.

Be aware of unsupervised whitening methods such as tanning sessions and drugstore kits. Serious damage to your teeth could result from not following proper instructions. Please discuss the timing and the right products to use with your dentist when interested in whitening your teeth. Most products are not indicated for young teenagers.

If you follow the recommended guidelines and properly care for your teeth, you can enjoy a lifetime of beautiful and healthy teeth! Please call Tooth Fairy World at 773-327-3331 or 773-947-8884 today to learn more and to book an appointment with Dr. Marylene Vitiello.