Teen dental health is in an odd position of sorts, partially because no one talks about it much. Teendom is that awkward spectrum where you’re lumped up with the kids or squeezed in with the grown-ups. But much like adults and children, teens do have their own unique oral health issues beyond either group. As such, we must discuss these too.
When talking about teens, “transition” is the key term to note. You go from child to adult in your teenage years, both literally and figuratively. Aside from the physical changes your body undergoes, during this time, you also go through foundational experiences that ease you into the challenges of the adult world. The same thing goes for their dental issues. Dental health for teenagers, then, involves both physical and psychosocial elements.
What, then, are the issues that plague teen dental health?
Oral piercings may look cool, but they take a toll on your dental health
When you’re finding your way through adulthood, it can feel like you’re continually going through a series of trial and error. It’s no wonder, then, why most teens tend to experiment during this time—particularly with their bodies. As such, tattoos and body piercings are quite popular at this age.
Oral piercings, in particular, have grown in their popularity for their different appearance and aesthetic. They do have their risks, though—and while teens who do get oral piercings are old enough to know how to take care of them, the risks are all the same.
For one, the mouth is typically full of bacteria, so any oral piercing will be liable for infection. Because of this, you’ll need to make sure that the piercing is clean always. In extreme cases, it can lead to hepatitis. And because the piercing is on a sensitive membrane, you’re liable to get more injuries in that area as well.
Another risk is the damage it can do to your teeth. Because these piercings close to the teeth, it’s easy to injure your teeth on piercings consciously or unconsciously. Similar to grinding your teeth, constant chewing on your facial piercing could turn minor tooth cracks into something more significant, leading to an infection of the pulp. That said, if you’re a teen who does have an oral piercing, you’ll need to take extra care of your pearly whites.
A teen’s hormones may affect the state of their mouth
During your teenage years, your hormone levels begin to fluctuate as your body prepares for adult functions. In women, for instance, the fluctuation of progesterone and estrogen could bring increased blood flow to the teeth, causing their gums to become swollen. In men, low testosterone could mean a higher vulnerability to oral diseases.
Knowing this, then, teens might need to take heed of those seasonal oral ailments, as they may be a sign of hormone fluctuations. While their teeth and gums may return to normal after the change, if their oral health is weak at the time, it might be harder to bounce back. It’s during these times, then, that you might want to double down on your oral care.