Teen Habits and their Effect on Oral Hygiene

1184390_72579423Parents strive to teach their children good habits at a young age with the hope that they will continue a healthy lifestyle into adulthood. But once kids hit their teenage years, rebellion takes over and those productive manners may go out the window. Keeping up with good oral health habits as an adolescent can ensure that the gums, teeth and mouth are in top condition for a lifetime. Here are a few things to consider in order to maintain those pearly whites and fresh breath:

Gum

For many teenagers, chewing gum is routine. From the classroom to going out with friends, teenagers have a strange tendency to always be chomping down. While some gum can actually improve breath and help avoid dry mouth, typical packs from the super market are loaded with sugar. Instead of picking up a stick of gum with a layer of “fruit,” try sugarless gum made with the natural sweetener xylitol after meals. Consider having this all-natural gum around the house so your teenager won’t be tempted to pick up a sugar-loaded pack.

Piercings

Body piercings have become much more acceptable in modern society, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences that come along with them. Tongue and lip piercings can cause teeth to chip and gums to recede. In addition, these piercings can be prone to infection, which causes bad breath and creates other issues throughout the entire mouth. Encourage children to avoid this type of body art.

Soda/sports drinks

Teenagers can sometimes down soda like it is water! There are countless harmful side effects to drinking these carbonated beverages, and they can wreak havoc on the entire mouth. Not only is one can filled with 38 grams of sugar or more, its sticky, syrupy texture lingers on the teeth, gums and tongue for much too long. Drinking just one bottle of soda pop a day can increase the amount of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth, cause bad breath, promote tooth decay and dry out the mouth. Unfortunately, sports drinks are not much better. Kids who play sports in school tend to carry along one of these beverages after or during a meet or game, but they are often loaded with a similar amount of sugar as soda. Instead, encourage teenagers to drink plenty of water, or even coconut water. Coconut water is all-natural and rehydrates better than typical sports drinks.

Coffee

A cup of Joe can stain teeth, but black coffee is actually not as bad for the mouth as many people think – although it can cause bad breath. However, teenagers tend to load their cup with sugar and cream and a splash of coffee. Frappes and other sugar-infused drinks from a coffee shop are not good for the mouth or waistline. These sweet treats should not be included in a daily diet, and try to encourage teens to think of these drinks as just that – a treat.

Bad eating habits

Remember when you could sit down and eat an entire pizza or bag of chips? Teenagers eat like garbage disposals, and while it may not pack on the pounds at this age, it can cause bad breath. Junk food and fast foods lack nutritional value – vitamins and minerals helps to balance out anaerobic bacteria – and are hard for the body to digest. This could directly lead to bad breath, a particularly embarrassing situation for teenagers. Parents should encourage teens to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that will keep breath fresh and help reduce dental plaque.

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