√ Stay on top of brushing and flossing. Teenagers can be fiercely protective of their independence but that doesn't mean you have to stop reminding them of good oral habits like brushing and flossing daily. You can also put together an oral hygiene toolkit for them to take to school and set a good example by brushing and flossing your own teeth every single day!
√ Drink plenty of water. It may be impossible to monitor what teenagers drink throughout their school day, but you can help them stay healthy at home by keeping little to no soda in the kitchen. To increase the fun factor of drinking plain water, buy your teenager a water bottle that can be taken to school.
√ Ask your dentist about mouthguards. If your teen plays sports, it's important to protect his or her teeth during high and low-impact activity. Your dentist can provide recommendations for mouthguards -- both custom-made and over-the-counter -- so be sure to get expert dental advice about which mouthguard is best for your teenager.
Watch out for:
Oral Piercing Infections -- More and more teenagers are getting their tongues and lips pierced, but studies show that oral piercings can cause a host of dental problems like cracked or chipped teeth, gum injuries and even nerve damage. If your teenager already has an oral piercing, make sure that regular dental visits and periodic teeth and gum checks are performed at home. If your teen is thinking about getting an oral piercing, schedule a dental visit beforehand for advice.
Gum Disease -- Gum disease may seem like a dental problem that affects only adults, but it often starts during puberty. Hormonal changes can cause your teen's gums to be extra sensitive, especially if your teen is female. Wearing dental braces can also make brushing and flossing difficult, leaving your teen's gums vulnerable to plaque and tartar buildup. So if you notice that your teen's gums are bleeding while flossing or that they have bad breath, schedule a dental appointment. Your dentist can make a proper diagnose and start your teen on gum disease treatment.
Eating Disorders -- Anorexia and bulimia are serious diseases that can cause great damage to your teeth as well as your body. If your teenager has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, you'll obviously want to get them the proper medical and psychological help they need. But don't forget to take your teenager to the dentist, too. A dentist can help with dental problems such as large cavities, mouth lesions and bleeding gums, which are commonly associated with eating disorders.
Canker Sores -- If your teenager wears braces, he or she may be more susceptible to developing canker sores. Canker sores often go away on their own, but practicing good oral hygiene and avoiding acidic foods can also help your teen fight off future outbreaks. If canker sores or cold sores are causing your teenager extreme discomfort or last longer than three weeks, contact your dentist for help.