As your children and teenagers are headed back to school, you might be giving them a pep talk concerning the choices they make and avoiding influences like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. We all know there are multiple reasons why these items are not good for your children, but how does it affect their dental health?
Alcohol is also something many teens experiment with, which can contribute to mouth cancer as well as tooth enamel erosion and cavities when consumed often or in great amounts. It’s important to emphasize to them that there is a reason why there is a specific drinking age, so the teeth can more fully develop.
When it comes to illicit drug use, if teens are using them regularly, they are subjecting their oral health to side effects such as dry mouth which causes halitosis, dental erosion, tooth decay and gum disease. Another side effect might be teeth grinding (bruxism), which can also lead to worn down enamel. Some drugs increase cravings for sweets and soda, which puts them at greater risk for dental cavities.
Teens who use tobacco or smoke can find themselves with chronic bad breath and stains on their teeth since both cigarettes and other forms of tobacco contain nicotine and tar. They can even invite more damaging results such as gum disease, tooth loss or cancer of the mouth.
Similar to cigarettes, vaping or e-cigarettes are considered a “safer” option for some people since it’s a vaporized form of tobacco smoke. In reality, they are not any safer and can have just as many harmful effects. They can cause inflammation that could lead to gum disease and other teeth and mouth problems. Many people develop painful sores, lesions and sore throats from vaping.
What You Can Do
Many of these activities – if not all – can result in costly repairs and suffering for years to come. We want to help your teen prevent any long term effects by emphasizing the importance of avoiding alcohol, drug use and tobacco, at least until their teeth have fully developed. Some things you can do to protect your children and teens include the following:
- Discuss the risks of these kinds of choices
- Practice good oral hygiene (brushing twice a day, flossing once a day)
- Regularly visit their dentist
- Set a good example; avoid tobacco use or vaping (or even stop altogether for your own health benefits!)
To protect your child’s dental health, be sure to explain the disadvantages and how they can create a great smile to last for years. If they need more convincing, we’ll be happy to give you and your child more information on the effects of these products. Feel free to give us a call today to set up an appointment or ask us any questions. We are happy to help!