Teen Talk

Teens are important, too. With many social and peer pressures, dealing with oral health issues and asking important questions can sometimes be embarrassing or intimidating. Here teens can learn about what matters to them regarding oral care and have their questions answered.

Western Heights Dental, Knoxville TN

Oral Health Basics for Teens
If you are a teenager, you know that your mouth is a very important part of your body. In fact, you probably think about and look at your mouth more than you realize. It is not only the opening for putting lots of food in but also it is the smile that you flash to friends and potential mates! So, you want it to be healthy and clean.

Since your smile is likely the first thing people see when they look at you, it is good to know how to maintain it. Your teeth, tongue and lips also help you chew, digest food and talk. Imagine how you would talk and look without teeth.

A proper diet with plenty of healthy choices is the best way to keep your oral tissues healthy. Drinking plenty of water and brushing and flossing after eating will keep your teeth strong, cavity-free and beautiful. Your breath will be fresher, too… and that is very important to your social life.

There are some conditions of the mouth that you should know about:
Canker sores (apthous ulcers) often occur in the adolescent and teenage years. No one really knows why but often stress, dietary issues, hormones, and allergies can cause a breakout. They can be very painful and last between 1 and 3 weeks. Over the counter numbing gels and rinses can help with the pain when you eat. Ask your dental hygienist for advice the next time you go for your dental cleaning or check-up.

Oral herpes or cold sores (Herpetic Stomatitis) can be a breakout of painful, clustered blisters in the mouth or on the lips. Often, oral herpes can be transferred to you by kissing someone with an active herpes virus. Try to avoid sharing drinks or eating utensils with someone with a herpetic lesion. If you have a problem with oral herpes, be considerate of your friends and family and be aware of how easy it is to pass it on.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums (gingival) and appears as red, swollen and sometimes bleeding gum tissue. It is usually caused by the bacteria found in plaque and tartar, which collect on the teeth if you do not brush and floss often enough or properly

Periodontal Disease is a progression from gingivitis that has not been treated and where pockets form between the gums and the teeth that harbour harmful bacteria. If left untreated, this can lead to bone damage around the root of the tooth and cause the tooth to become loose and eventually be lost.

Tooth Decay occurs when bacteria collects in food and plaque that is left on the teeth. It feeds on the sugars and starches and produces an acidic waste product. This acidic substance, if not removed, will break down the hard dental enamel that protects our teeth, causing a lesion in the tooth called a cavity. If this cavity is not repaired when it is small, it can grow unnoticed until the nerve in the tooth is affected and the tooth could die. The only way to save a tooth that is damaged like this is with a root canal treatment where the live nerve is removed from the tooth to eliminate pain.

Oral Piercing can do serious and irreversible damage to tissues in your mouth and to your teeth. Be well informed of the dangers before taking this risky step. Ask your oral health care professional if you have concerns.

Wisdom teeth start to grow into the mouth in the mid to late teens but often there is not enough room and they remain stuck (impacted) in the jaw. If you experience discomfort or pain in the area at the end of your rows of teeth, you should contact your dentist for an x-ray and possible removal (extraction).

Taking good care of your mouth as a teen, will help set you up for a lifetime of happy, healthy and beautiful smiles!

Smoking and Your Oral Health Western Heights Dental, Knoxville TN

From the second a puff of smoke from a cigarette enters your mouth, you put your body at risk. The first to be affected are your lips, tongue, inside of your cheeks, roof of your mouth and your throat. Your risk of oral cancer and other smoking related problems increases with every cigarette you smoke, the days you smoke and the number of years of a smoking habit.

Other conditions include heart disease, high blood pressure, lung cancer and other cancers. It makes your skin wrinkle making you look older and affects your sense of taste and smell.

Oral Side Effects of Tobacco Use

  • Tooth staining (tar deposit or smoke stain)Western Heights Dental, Knoxville TN
  • Red and sore palate (roof of the mouth)
  • Gums that do not heal
  • Gum recession (especially with chewing tobacco)
  • Bad breath
  • Sores that do not heal (some are hidden from view)
  • Cancer
  • Black hairy tongue (oral hairy leukoplakia)

“I want to quit but I can’t!” Quitting smoking might be one of the hardest things you will ever do. But you need to remember one important fact: If you quit early enough, the risk of developing oral cancer drops rapidly.

Yes you will have withdrawal symptoms but there are ways to try to overcome or deal with them. Used in combination with counseling or support groups, they can be very successful.

You can get help and advice from your medical or dental professionals or their associations as well as local community centres, health clinics and heart and lung associations.

Effects of Drugs on Oral Health (Meth Mouth)

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can cause shortness of breath, hyperthermia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage and rampant tooth decay. Some users describe their teeth as “blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling or falling apart.” Often, the teeth cannot be salvaged and must be extracted.

Detect Problems Early
If detected early you can have a fighting chance against oral cancer. The best way is to have regular checkups with your dental hygienist and dentist. Let them know you are a smoker in your health questionnaire. This will help them assess your oral condition.