Oral Health - Teens

Good oral health tips for teens:

  1. Brush twice a day.
  2. Floss every day.
  3. Eat well.

Good oral health is part of good overall health.

Why is brushing and flossing so important?

  • Brushing and flossing protect teeth from tooth decay by removing food and plaque from the teeth.
  • Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Flossing reaches places that the toothbrush can’t.
How to brush your teeth - click to show/hide
How to floss your teeth - click to show/hide

What kind of foods cause tooth decay?

  • Foods high in sugar that stay in the mouth longer, such as hard candy, sticky foods, fruit leathers, and dried fruit. Eating more sugar will produce more acid in the mouth.

What kind of foods are good for my teeth?

A healthy diet is very important for good oral health. Eating healthy foods will help reduce tooth decay and gum disease. Limiting the amount and how often sugar is eaten is very important in the prevention of tooth decay.

How to ensure a healthy mouth:

Healthy choices for between meal snacks:

Mostly nutritious and low in sugar

Occasional snacks are nutritious but contain sugar

Treats have a lot of sugar which sticks to teeth.

  • nuts
  • eggs
  • fruits
  • cheese
  • pretzels
  • popcorn
  • crackers
  • white milk
  • plain yogurt
  • raw vegetables
  • sunflower seeds
  • unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
  • ice cream
  • fruit muffins
  • milk shakes
  • milk pudding
  • chocolate milk
  • pop
  • cake
  • raisins
  • cookies
  • candies
  • chocolate bars

*Be sure to only have treats when you can brush teeth afterwards

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What are wisdom teeth?

  • Wisdom teeth, also called "third molars", are found at the very back of your mouth and are the last teeth to come in.
  • They have been called wisdom teeth because they usually appear during the late teen years, which have been called the "age of wisdom".
  • Wisdom teeth do not make you smarter, but they can be painful and give you problems. You may not get all four wisdom teeth.

Should wisdom teeth be removed?

  • Not everyone’s wisdom teeth need to come out.
  • Wisdom teeth that become trapped in the jaw bone are called "impacted" and may need to be removed. Consult a dentist or oral care provider for more information.

What are the symptoms associated with wisdom teeth?

You may experience:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Pus coming from the gum ( gum infection )
  • Tooth decay/cavities  (wisdom teeth that are partially out of the gum are prone to decay)

See an oral care provider if your teen has any of these symptoms, or have any other concerns.

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An image of a girl holding a soccer ball and wearing a blue mouthguard.
Of all the body parts, the mouth area is injured the most during contact sports. Wearing a mouthguard (PDF file) (order resource) while active is a simple but effective way of protecting teeth.

What does a mouthguard do?

  • A mouthguard acts like a shock absorber that helps to protect and cushion your teeth, lips mouth and jaw when playing contact sports.
  • Wearing a mouthguard can help prevent serious injuries like broken jaws, chipped teeth and cuts to your tongue and cheeks.

When is wearing a mouthguard a good idea?

  • During any sport where the mouth is at risk for injury. A few examples are hockey, basketball, football, soccer and wrestling.

How to take care of a mouthguard

  • Rinse your mouthguard under cool water after each use and air dry.
  • Occasionally clean it with a mild soap and water.
  • Check your mouthguard regularly. If it shows signs of wearing down, tearing or cracking, it must be replaced. If it is custom made contact your dental professional.

What are the different kinds of mouthguards?

Choosing a mouthguard is very important. There are three types of mouthguards to choose from.

  • Custom-made 
    They are made by a dental professional and are individually designed, which ensures the best fit.
  • Self-adapted 
    They can be purchased in most sports stores. They are moulded to fit the mouth by boiling the mouthguard in water and then biting into the warm plastic. They can feel bulky and interfere with breathing and speaking.
  • Ready-made 
    They can be purchased in most sports stores. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but little can be done to adjust the mouthguard to fit your mouth properly. They are often too bulky, loose, and uncomfortable and can interfere with breathing and speaking.
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A photo of a pieced tongue.No one should pierce their own body nor let a friend do it. It’s not worth the risk.

How is tongue and lip piercing done?

  • Tongue and lip piercing should only be done by a professional body artist using sterile equipment.
  • The area to be pierced must be thoroughly cleaned before piecing with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • The body artist creates a hole with a disposable needle through the tongue or lip. Piercing guns should not be used.
  • Then new sterile jewellery is inserted through the hole.
  • There may be a small amount of bleeding

What should your teen know about tongue piercing?

  • Once pierced, the tongue swells quite a lot at first, so an extra long barbell is inserted into the hole.
  • After the swelling goes down, a shorter barbell should replace the longer one to avoid tooth fracture and irritation of piercing.
  • The tongue takes about 4 weeks to heal.

What should your teen know about lip piercing?

  • A small hoop or stud is placed through the bottom part of the lip. The lip piercing can take up to 3 months to heal.

What to do after a piercing?

  • Hands should always be washed before touching the piercing. Anything that is in contact with the piercing should be as clean as possible.
  • For 3 months following the piercing, rinse the mouth with antibacterial mouthwash after eating or drinking.
  • The piercing as well as the teeth, gums and tongue should be kept clean.
  • When taking care of the jewellery, follow the proper steps as given by the piercer.

What are the risks with tongue and lip piercing?

  • Infections, such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS and Strep (Streptococcus).
  • Chipped teeth.
  • Damage to the nerves.
  • Allergic reaction to the metal jewellery.
  • Increased saliva flow.
  • Difficulty eating or speaking.
  • Possible change in taste of food.
  • Trauma and infection to the gum tissue.
  • Scar tissue can change speech.
  • Jewellery can block airway if swallowed or inhaled.
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What are the main causes of bad breath?

What are some of the other reasons for bad breath?

  • Possible sign of medical condition
  • Sinus infections
  • Lung infections
  • Fasting

How to prevent bad breath?

  • Practicing good oral hygiene is important.
  • What can I do for my natural teeth to have fresh breath?
    • Brush teeth  at least twice a day.
    • Finish by brushing the tongue and rinsing the mouth out with water or mouthwash.
    • Floss teeth  once a day.
    • Have regular check-ups.

If these steps have been completed and bad breath still occurs, contact your oral care provider or your physician.

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An image of a young lady smiling. Please consult an oral care provider regarding any of these treatments.

The simplest two ways to improve a smile
 

  1. Brushing and flossing  your teeth are the most important things to do to ensure your teeth last a lifetime.
  2. Regular dental check-ups ensure a healthy mouth.

What is bleaching?

  • Bleaching can whiten discoloured teeth.

What is bonding?

  • Bonding is a type of plastic filling material used to repair minor tooth chips, or close gaps between the front teeth.

What is a dental bridge?

  • A bridge is a permanent replacement for missing teeth that are cemented to the natural teeth on either side of the space.

What is a crown (cap)?

  • A crown (cap) is a permanent covering made of special material that is cemented over a single tooth and it fits like a thimble over your finger.

What are dental implants?

  • Implants are a permanent replacement for missing teeth that are surgically placed into the jawbone.

What is orthodontics?

  • Orthodontics is a method used to move teeth into position using one or more appliances such as braces or retainers.

What is a partial?

  • A partial is a removable replacement for missing teeth, which are held in place by metal clasps that are attached to the teeth on either side of the space.
  • They need to be removed when sleeping and to be cleaned.

What are veneers?

  • Veneers are permanent thin porcelain “shell” that are cemented to the front of the teeth.
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Dental injuries happen, knowing what to do when one occurs can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth.

Managing a toothache

  • If swelling is present place cold compresses on the outside of the cheek in the area of the toothache.
  • Do not use heat or place aspirin on the aching tooth or gum area.
  • See your oral care provider as soon as possible.

What to do with a broken tooth

  • If there is facial trauma apply a cold compress to the face to keep swelling down.
  • Call your oral care provider immediately.

What to do if a permanent tooth gets knocked out

  • Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown, which is the part of the tooth that is normally exposed.
  • Do not touch the root. If the tooth is dirty, rinse in cold milk or saliva. Do not scrub.
  • If possible, put the tooth back in place. If this is not possible place the tooth in a container of milk or tuck inside the cheek.
  • Go to your oral care provider or emergency department immediately.

What to do if tongue or lip gets bitten

  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean tissue or cloth.
  • Apply a cold compress if there is swelling.
  • If the bleeding cannot be controlled, seek medical attention.

What to do if an object gets wedged between teeth

  • Do not try to remove any object with a pointed or sharp instrument.
  • Try to remove the object carefully with dental floss.
  • If you cannot remove the object, go to your oral care provider.

What to do if a jaw may be fractured

  • Prevent the jaw from moving by wrapping a towel or necktie under the chin and tying it at the top of the head.
  • If swelling is present, a cold compress may be applied. Go to the emergency department immediately.

What to do for a lost filling

  • See your oral care provider as soon as possible.
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If you or your family has trouble paying for dental treatment Halton has financial assistance programs to help kids aged 17 and under get dental care.

How do I apply for assistance?

  • Before booking an appointment with your oral health care provider, call the Halton Region Health Department to find out if you qualify. One of our Oral Health team will help you through the process. Dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

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