Dentistry for Teenagers (12-18)

As a parent, you can be rest assured that these are going to be some challenging years for a variety of reasons.

Even if you have a child that is well-behaved, it is still a challenge! While your child’s dental health probably isn’t the first thing on your mind during these years, it’s still very important!

Here are a few tips from Children’s Dental Zone on how to keep your child’s teeth healthy during these years:

As a teenager, self-esteem and factors that influence it are probably one of your main priorities, the main factor perhaps being a healthy and beautiful smile. The teenage years are also a time in a person’s life where you develop habits that often carry you through life, which means that it is crucial to develop habits that will not lead to harmful effects. If you live in the Johns Creek, GA area and would like to ensure that you are on the right track in your dental care, your pediatric dentist from Children’s Dental Zone is here for you.

The following is a list of common dental issues that we encounter with teenage dentistry:

Oral Piercings

Today, it is quite common to see teenagers with pierced lips, cheeks or tongues, and most teens may see the appeal without knowing the dangers associated with this decision. A piercing may chip or fracture your teeth, which could lead to your needing a filling, a crown, or even a root canal. Because your mouth is naturally filled with bacteria, an oral piercing could also cause blood clots, nerve damage, heart infection, brain abscess, and many others. If the jewelry becomes lose, you could also choke! If you are still considering oral piercings, we recommend that you see us for a consultation.


Smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the most serious health hazards, and it is important to become well-educated on the dangers in order to avoid starting this habit. The consequences of tobacco use range from minor issues – such as stained teeth and bad breath – to much more serious issues, including oral cancer and periodontal disease, i.e., gum disease. If you currently use tobacco products, make sure to inform your dentist of that as well as of any oral problems you might be experiencing, such as any unusual pain, swelling, etc. If you do not smoke or chew tobacco, we strongly recommend that you do not start!

*A common misconception teenagers have is that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking. That is not true: In fact, one can of chewing tobacco is equivalent to about 60 cigarettes.

Eating Disorders

Two common disorders are anorexia – not eating due to an irrational fear of gaining weight, which leads to vomiting; and bulimia – binge-eating followed by intentional vomiting. Aside from a variety of health issues and potentially life-threatening situations, eating disorders directly contribute to an acid erosion of the tooth’s enamel. We have a variety of treatment options that would restore your teeth, including dental crowns and fillings. While we cannot treat the disorder itself, we would likely be able to direct you to someone who can. If you, a friend, or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, contact us immediately.

Dietary Habits

Carbonated beverages and snack foods, which teenagers tend to eat frequently, contain excessive amounts of sugar, starches, and acidic flavorings. These can increase the formation of plaque, leading to an erosion of the tooth’s enamel and ultimately tooth decay. To avoid these issues, we recommend that you eat a balanced diet from the five major food groups and choose healthy snacks, such as raw fruits and vegetables, cheese or yogurt, nuts, etc. Drinking water instead of soda will also help avoid potential dental problems. If you have any questions on what you should be eating to promote better oral health, talking to us would be a good option.

Academic Stress

Academic stress is another common issue that teenagers experience, which can lead to involuntary grinding of teeth while sleeping. Symptoms include difficulty in moving your jaw, a clicking sound when doing so, and/or overall tooth and jaw sensitivity. These symptoms might be early signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) – a painful condition that constricts jaw movement – so we recommend that you visit our office immediately if you experience any of the above. We may need to provide you with a night guard that prevents you from grinding your teeth.

Mouth Guards

Because teenagers often participate in sports, it is important to remember that such activities may also cause damage to your oral health. Potential problems include cut lips, chipped or broken teeth, missing teeth, as well as root and bone damage. If you play sports and do not have a mouth guard, you should see us as soon as possible. We will create a custom mouth guard to fit over your upper teeth – sometimes over braces or other fixed dental devices – so that you are protected from the above hazards involved in playing sports.


Many children and teenagers experience dental issues such as crooked or crowded teeth and/or poor jaw alignment. Aside from a lower self-esteem and social anxiety, these dental issues are a risk for the proper function of teeth as well as for overall dental health. Among today’s orthodontic options, we offer metal braces and Invisalign® – clear, plastic aligners that move the teeth to their ideal position. Our teenage patients tend to choose Invisalign because it is removable, making it easier to maintain proper oral hygiene than with braces, among other benefits. However, to determine which treatment is right for you, contact us for a consultation.

Teeth Whitening

If you are a teenager and would like to have your teeth whitened, we strongly recommend that you contact us to help you choose a whitening option that is right for you. Today’s variety of whitening products can cause serious damage to your teeth if used incorrectly. You may not even be in need of teeth whitening if you visit your dentist regularly for thorough cleanings, which takes care of surface stains among other things. Whitening toothpastes are another safe option for removing surface stains. If staining persists, you may need professional whitening, but it is important to speak with us prior to making any decision.

Tooth Decay

We know at this age it’s a challenge to get your child to care about their oral health and tooth decay, however it’s very important. If their teeth start to decay significantly during their teen years, it can set them up for a life of dental challenges.

While you can’t control everything you do, we encourage you to make healthy eating choices as a family, as this can significantly limit the amount of junk food they consume (sugar is one of the primary causes of tooth decay).

Say No to Smoking or Tobacco Use

Fortunately, smoking and tobacco use is on the decline in teens. As is well documented, tobacco can wreak havoc on your teeth, gums, and can significantly increase your child’s risk of oral cancer.

Protecting Your Teeth During Sports

As your child gets older, sports get much more competitive. Regardless of the sport, the ball (or puck) starts moving faster, and the hits get harder. The question is, do you really want your child to be wearing a flimsy, insecure, over the counter mouth guard when they get hit square in the mouth with a soccer ball, basketball, or even a baseball?

We didn’t think so.

At Children’s Dental Zone we highly recommend that you invest in a custom mouthguard for your teen, and we will be happy to point you in the right direction. While these mouthguards are a bit of an investment, they pale in comparison to what your medical bills might be if several of your child’s teeth get knocked out!

Keeping Your Breath in Check

No teenager wants bad breath and as a parent, if you lead with this angle, you might can get your child to take very good care of their teeth!

In addition to routine oral hygiene, your teenager can chew sugar-free gum, as well as use mouthwash daily to help prevent bad breath. A tongue scraper can also be a great investment as well.

If you are finding that your child seems to have chronic bad breath, it could be due to something other than their hygiene (such as an issue with allergies or acid reflux). If this is the case, we recommend seeing your primary care provider.

Keeping Their Smile Beautiful

In addition to avoiding tobacco and sugary foods, another “life hack” that can keep your child’s teeth whiter and brighter is to avoid coffee and dark colas. While one every now and then won’t hurt them, over time drinking several dark colas or coffees per day could stain your child’s teeth, and turn those bright whites to dingy yellow.

No one wants that! So if your child likes to drink sodas (most teens do), they should limit their intake, and drink through a straw.

To learn more about teenage dentistry from us at Children’s Dental Zone, please contact your Johns Creek pediatric dentist today!

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