Adolescence & Oral Care

There is evidence that demonstrates how periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care at an early age.

It is much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of periodontal diseases. Therefore, it is important that children receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visits. Be aware that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, this may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who exhibit severe periodontitis, especially if it appears resistant to therapy.

An important step in the fight against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child early. Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself and schedule regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.

Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and bad breath.

If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work w healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person’s sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem.

Tongue Piercings 

The use of intraoral (in the mouth) jewelry and piercing of tongue and lips have been gaining popularity among adolescents and young adults. Jewelry and other jewelry accessories may lead to increased plaque, level gingival inflammation, and/or  recession and caries.

Oral piercings involving the tongue, lips, cheeks, and  uvula  have been associated with pathological conditions including  pain, infection, scar formation, tooth fracture, metal hypersensitivity reaction, localized periodontal disease, speech impediment, Ludwig’s Angina, hepatitis,and nerve damage.

Life-threatening complications associated with oral piercings have been reported, including  bleeding, edema, endocarditic and airway obstruction.

Unregulated piercing parlors and techniques contribute a vector for disease transmission (hepatitis, tetanus, and tuberculosis).

Tobacco USE  

The AAPD opposes the use of all forms of tobacco including cigarettes, pipes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and alternative nicotine delivery system. Most studies show that people who do not use tobacco as a teen never use it. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco use. Help your child to avoid tobacco in any form.

Tobacco in any form can harm your child’s health. Teens often use smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew, and snuff, believing that it is a safe alternative to smoking. Unfortunately, studies have shown that smokeless tobacco is more addictive than smoking cigarettes and it may be more difficult to quit. One can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as 3-4 months, snuff use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.

Parents whose children are using tobacco should watch for the following signs of early precancerous lesions:

  • A sore that won’t heal
  • White or red leathery patches on lips, on or under the tongue
  • Pain, tenderness, and numbness anywhere in the mouth and lips
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, moving the tongue

Early signs of oral cancer are usually painless and people often ignore them. If it is not caught in the early stages, oral cancer requires extensive, sometimes disfiguring surgery, often with fatal consequences.