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Dental health for older children and teens

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Older children (roughly age six and above) and teens are particularly vulnerable to problems with their teeth and gums.

Sugary snacks such as sodas, candy and chewing gum when combined with poor choices about dental health care often lead to problems with cavities. Although gum disease is more often an adult problem, it can begin at an earlier age.

Good dental habits such as brushing twice a day and flossing can be more challenging for parents to supervise especially as teens need more privacy and experience the natural tendency to rebel.

As social connections become more important for teens, peer pressure may become an important motivator to maintain a clean mouth and fresh breath. However, it is still the parent's responsibility to continue regular visits for their children to your dental professional.

Children and teens often experience rapid growth, which may contribute to problems with crooked teeth, misaligned jaws (upper and lower teeth don't meet correctly) or other structural problems.

Braces

This age is a prime candidate for orthodontia treatments (braces or other treatments). Your dentist will advise you during regular checkups if it appears that some corrective steps are necessary.

In many cases, a dentist specially trained in orthodontia (orthodontist) will work with your family dentist to provide the necessary corrective steps.

Orthodontia is not just for appearance sake. Problems with a child's jaws and mouth can distort speech, make chewing difficult, cause problems as permanent teeth come in and result in a lower quality of life.

Another danger to older children and teens is injury to the jaws, mouth and teeth from sports accidents. All children are at some risk for injury as a natural part of playing.

However, organized sports can raise the danger of an accident. Many organized sports activities require participants to wear some form of mouth and teeth guard.

Your dental professional can help you and your young athlete decide which type of mouth guard is appropriate for the sport. It is important the guard fit properly and provide the needed protection.​