Many people put off going to the dentist until something goes wrong, like a toothache, a sports accident, or a common oral health problem like gingivitis. Teens are no exception. With busy school schedules, extracurricular activities, jobs, and busy social lives, your teen may be especially reluctant to go to the dentist for a check up if “nothing is wrong.”
Putting off preventive dental care like check ups and cleanings increase your teen’s risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems in the short- and long-term. (An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure after all, as the old saying goes.)
At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care & Orthodontics, our dentists, Dr. Nathalie Phaeton and Dr. Ki Youn Kil, and our dental team offer dental and orthodontic services for children and teens at our office in Falls Church, Virginia.
In a perfect world, brushing and flossing alone would be enough to keep your children’s teeth and gums as strong and healthy as possible. While good oral hygiene practices at home go a long way toward achieving that goal, they can only go so far in preventing the plaque and tartar buildup that causes cavities and gum disease.
And that’s assuming your teens are practicing good oral hygiene on their own. You might think gum disease isn’t something a typical teenager has to worry about, but the truth is that gum disease can strike at any age. Teenagers are subject to the same factors that increase the risk of gum disease in adults, from poor oral hygiene and diet to a family history and hormones.
If your teen wears braces, regular dental check ups are especially important because it can be difficult for them to adequately brush and floss their teeth around the appliances.
Hormones can also make gums more sensitive, so a teen going through puberty can be especially at risk for developing gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. When caught and treated early, gingivitis is reversible and doesn’t progress to advanced gum disease (periodontitis).
In addition to cavities and gum disease, young teenage teeth (typically between the ages of 12 to 14) are still developing, and dental check ups allow our dentists to monitor any changes to their bite and alignment pattern that may indicate they need orthodontic treatment.
Wisdom teeth typically start erupting around age 17, so check ups are especially important as wisdom teeth are sometimes impacted (when a tooth doesn’t have enough room to erupt from the gum). This can cause problems like pain, gum sensitivity, and symptoms similar to gum disease such as bad breath, swelling and tenderness, and bleeding.
The general rule of thumb is every six months for most people, but our dentists may recommend a shorter or longer check-up schedule for your child depending on their oral health profile and individual circumstances.
For more information about dental check ups and preventive dental care, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.