If you’re a teenager or young adult, you need to protect your mouth and teeth by maintaining good oral health. Here we discuss our top 5 dental health tips for teens and young adults to help you maintain your amazing smile.
Although regular brushing and flossing are important, the oral health of those in this age group is also often associated with risk factors such as diet, smoking, alcohol and mouth and tongue piercings.
1. How to best avoid dental cavities
Anyone who has teeth can get cavities, including teenagers and older adults. When you consume food and drinks that are sugary or starchy (high in carbohydrates), the bacteria that naturally live in your mouth and in plaque, break down to form acids. These acids attack and dissolve the outer surface of the tooth (enamel). This process is known as demineralisation.
The first sign of demineralisation is a chalky white spot. At this stage, the decay process can be reversed. If you suspect you have the start of tooth decay, make an appointment to see your dentist.
2. Prevent tooth decay with healthy eating
To help prevent tooth decay, it’s recommended that you limit sugars and processed foods to mealtimes, rather than between meals. Healthy snacks may include cheese, natural yoghurt, fresh fruit and vegetables, dry biscuits, nuts and wholegrain bread. Chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow will also help protect against cavities.
3. Prevent tooth decay with healthy drinking
Choosing to drink water (with a preference for tap water) and plain milk, both with and in-between meals, will help prevent tooth decay. It’s also advisable to limit soft drinks, sports drinks, juice, flavoured water and other carbonated drinks. These will all increase your risk of dissolving your tooth enamel and tooth decay.
4. Prevent tooth decay by cleaning your teeth properly
You can maintain good oral hygiene at home by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, using a toothbrush with a small, compact head and soft bristles. When the bristles appear ‘shaggy’ it is time to change toothbrushes.
Flossing once a day is also recommended as one of the important health tips for teens. While there may be some bleeding at first, this should subside after a few days if tooth cleaning is thorough. If bleeding persists, seek advice from a dentist or other oral health professional.
5. Minimising injuries to the mouth and teeth when training or playing sport
To help protect yourself from the risk of an oral injury, it’s important to wear a professionally fitted mouthguard when training and playing sport.