Smilestones : Teens

Diet and Your Teen’s Teeth: Avoiding a Pulpectomy

 Diet: Can it affect Your Teen’s Teeth?

You already know that your diet can have a huge impact on your child’s overall health. Eating the right foods can nourish the body, help maintain a healthy weight, and keep disease at bay. But can your teen’s diet also impact the teeth? Absolutely! The sugar from food and drinks creates a breeding ground of bacteria in your teen’s mouth. Bacteria then produce acids that break down tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay and cavities. With simple teeth cleanings and dental fillings, we can stop cavities from becoming worse. But if left untreated, your teen may require more serious treatment, like a pulpectomy or tooth extraction. A pulpectomy is often referred to as a ͞baby root canal͟. During a pulpectomy, we will remove the diseased pulp tissue and disinfect the remaining nerve tissue.

Avoiding a Pulpectomy

Beyond dental treatment, you can help ensure your child’s mouth stays healthy. It all starts with a good diet full of fresh fruits and veggies and less sugar. Avoid sugar in the form of soda, juice, and sports drinks, and help your teen eat fewer starchy snacks, like crackers and potato chips. These snacks stick to teeth, producing more sugar in the mouth. Try to encourage snacks such as fresh fruit, veggie sticks, yogurt, or cheese. Your teen can also try pure chocolate to satisfy sugar cravings. It does not stick to the teeth but melts off of the grooves. If your teen does eat chips or desserts, remind them to drink water to wash food particles off of their teeth. To read more on your teen’s diet and oral health, click here.

Pediatric Dentistry Benefits

 What is Pediatric Dentistry?

Pediatric dentistry is a type of dentistry that focuses on overall oral health specifically for children and teens. While we work with children as young as infants and toddlers, older children and teens can benefit greatly from a pediatric dentist. Our doctors are trained to give your teen the right dental care in a comfortable environment.

What is a Pediatric Dentist?

A pediatric dentist is similar to a pediatrician. Pediatric dentists must take additional training to understand the best ways to protect your child’s oral health. They also stay current on the latest technology and practices. All dentists must take four years of college and four years of general dental school. But only pediatric dentists also receive two to three years of training in both children’s hospitals and dental schools. At the Smile Shoppe Pediatric Dentistry, our pediatric dentists are specially trained to give your teen the customized care they need. We love working with young patients of all ages to create healthy dental habits for life. Why go anywhere else? For more information, click here.

About Brushing and Flossing

About Brushing and Flossing

Brushing Right

When it comes to brushing and flossing teeth, your teen probably thinks they are professional by now, but even the most seasoned brushers can benefit from a few reminders! Make sure your teen uses a brush with soft, round bristles to ensure gentle cleaning, and remember to buy a new brush approximately every three months. An old toothbrush can lose its ability to effectively remove plaque. This also ensures your teen is still using the right size brush for their mouth as they have most likely outgrown the smaller child-size toothbrushes.

Dental Cleaning for Teens

Dental hygiene is important to keep your teen’s teeth healthy and cavity free. By now, your teen should know how to properly brush and floss their teeth. But it’s still important to remind them how to brush and floss to ensure they are using the right technique. To ensure proper teeth cleaning and reduce plaque, your teen should: Grip the brush at a 45-degree angle facing the teeth. Brush in small, gentle circles about half a tooth wide. Be sure to brush the inner and outer surface of each tooth. Brush the chewing surfaces of each tooth, holding the brush flat over the teeth. Gently brush the tongue to remove food particles. Floss gently between teeth every day.

Tooth Whitening for Teenagers

Tooth Whitening for Teenagers

Tooth whitening has grown in popularity in recent years with an abundance of over-the-counter options and even tooth whitening centers at the mall. Below are some guidelines to keep in mind for whitening in teenagers:
  • Wait until at least the age of 14. By this age, the tooth pulp is fully formed and the whitening process causes less sensitivity.
  • Drink dark drinks like soda and coffee through a straw to prevent discoloration of the upper front teeth.
  • Wait until braces are removed before starting whitening procedures. Take excellent care of your teeth while braces are on to prevent tooth discoloration or cavities.
Remember, all patients should have their teeth whitened under dental supervision—not at home. It is the safest way to prevent or limit complications and side effects of the whitening ingredients. Let us know if you are interested in tooth whitening and we can recommend treatment.

What About Gum Disease?

While many people believe periodontal (gum) disease is an adult problem, in fact studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and teens.  Advanced forms of periodontal disease are more rare in children than adults, but can occur. Chronic gingivitis is not uncommon in children.  It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal (gum) disease.

Adolescence and Oral Care

There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care. Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself and schedule frequent dental visits.  Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth and bad breath. If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now.  It’s much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult.  Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits.  A healthy smile, good breath and strong teeth all contribute to a young person’s sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

What is a Sealant?

A sealant is a white coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The resin flows into the pits and grooves of the back teeth.  Once they are covered, food and plaque cannot get in. The sealant forms a barrier against acid attacks. Tooth decay often occurs on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The good news is that sealants can help protect these surfaces from tooth decay and improve your child’s chances to stay filling-free.

What if my Child is Very Nervous?

As pediatric dentists, we receive extensive training in creating an atmosphere where your child can comfortably receive treatment. We select behavior management techniques appropriate for each child. For the especially nervous child we offer in-office sedations, including oral sedation protocols, as well as utilizing a nurse anesthetist for more complicated cases. For patients with special health care needs and very young children, we offer general anesthesia in a hospital setting. Our goal is the same for each child; a successful outcome in a safe environment.

What Role Does Sugar Play in Tooth Decay?

There are three things needed to produce a cavity: bacteria, a susceptible tooth (not sealed) and sugar.  Everyone has some bacteria in their mouth.  These bacteria feed on the sugars in the mouth produced by the breakdown of starchy foods or the simple sugars in things such as soda or candy.  As the bacteria eat, they produce an acidic waste.  Once bacteria colonize and feed on sugars in the mouth, the group produces enough acid to cause decay. There are two primary lessons to be learned from this explanation.  The less sugar and starch in a person’s diet, the less likely bacteria will thrive, grow and produce decay causing acids.  The simple act of brushing and flossing the teeth will disrupt and remove colonizing bacteria so they will be unable to produce enough acid to cause decay.  Diet and oral hygiene habits are directly related to cavity causing decay!

Are Cavities Contagious?

Sort of…read on! There are three things needed to produce a cavity: bacteria, a susceptible tooth, and sugar. Everyone has some bacteria in their mouth, but some people have more cavity producing bacteria than others. Anyone or child who has an “active” cavity in their mouth has a higher level of cavity producing bacteria. When food, drinks, utensils, toothbrushes and more are shared, this bacteria can be passed to another person. Children do not have this cavity producing bacteria when they are born, they can acquire it from a parent/caregiver or even another child. In fact, signs of cavity producing bacteria can be identified by a pediatric dentist before the child’s first birthday!