As you get older you are gaining more and more responsibility. You might be starting your first job and learning to drive a car soon. You might have more choices in the types of foods you eat and what you spend your hard-earned savings on. What kinds of choices you start making are going to impact you more and more. Some of these choices will also impact the health of your teeth and mouth. Making the right choices to protect your oral health can be hard and confusing, which is why dental professionals are here to help.
Drinks and Foods
Taking your savings to the local fast-food store or supermarket to grab a sugary sweet might be fun. However, it is important to be aware of what you are putting into your body, how often, and how that can affect your dental health. Fast foods and packaged snacks are a convenient way to satisfy your hunger, however, there are often lots of hidden sugars in these foods that can cause harm to your teeth. Bacteria living on our teeth and around our gums will feed on sugars and acid is produced as a waste product that damages the teeth. For even as long as 20 to 30 minutes after you have eaten sugar your teeth are still being attacked by acids. When this acid is left there for a length of time, cavities and holes in the teeth can form, sometimes becoming sensitive or painful and requiring fillings or other dental work. Bacteria can also irritate the gums causing inflammation and bleeding, this also may be worse when going through puberty.
What are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to sugary drinks and foods? When it comes to beverages, sports drinks, flavoured milk, soft drinks, and frozen cokes or slushies are typically jammed with sugar! Some sugared drinks have 2 to 3 times the amount of the recommended daily intake. Foods with sugars include chocolate, candy, biscuits, and cakes. While everyone enjoys a good snack, it is important to try and limit them as it will expose the teeth to more acid attacks throughout the day.
The recommended sugar intake for adults is 6 six teaspoons, always talk to your doctor as this may be different for you. Always read the label and see how much sugar is in what you’re eating. Look for healthier alternatives like water, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, along with limiting snacking.
Sports and Mouth Guards
Protecting your pearly whites is important during sports so we don’t go home with missing or broken teeth. In lots of sports, wearing a mouthguard is now compulsory during training and play, although even when it is not compulsory mouth guards can be very useful. Boil and Bite mouth guards from chemists may be quick and simple; however, the amount of protection they give is very low and they tend not to stay in very well.
Dental professions always recommend a custom-fitted mouthguard. You can get one from your dental clinic and it will be precision moulded to suit the shape of your teeth and gums. It will assist in reducing concussions, trauma, and damage to your teeth. While you are still growing you may need a new mouthguard every season so always check before you start back for the sports season that your mouthguard still fits.
Vaping and Smoking
As you get older peer pressure from friends and family can be difficult to ignore. Vaping or smoking with mates is one of those pressures that can arise. As you probably already know, smoking is bad for our oral health, but did you know vaping is as well? Vaping can be very appealing as it comes in delicious fruity flavours, some also contain nicotine which can be highly addictive. But remember, these flavours are just there hiding the dangerous chemicals even those claiming to be nicotine-free are not free of these dangers. What are the risks of vaping and smoking? Oral cancer on the tongue, gums, lips, and other tissues is serious and can be a life-changing illness. Those who vape or smoke are more likely to get gum disease and tooth decay. Hardened plaque, or tartar, can accumulate more easily and requires professional cleaning to remove. Staining of the teeth and bad breath can also occur. Remember you have a choice; your GP and dental profession are here to help you.
How to take care of your teeth at home?
Use an electric or soft manual toothbrush at least twice per day. This can be a struggle on those days we are busy or feeling lazy but remember the bacteria will be sitting around till you brush them off. Avoid brushing immediately after having sugar as it will brush acids further into the teeth. Brushing at a 45-degree angle so the bristles touch the gumline and teeth. Remember to spit and not rinse with fluoridated toothpaste. Flossing once per day at night will help get any of that hidden plaque the toothbrush cannot reach.
Taking care of your teeth from an early age can help set you up for life. Your mouth health can affect the rest of your body as well, so understanding how to look after it is key. Be aware of what sugars you are having and go for more tooth-friendly options. While this may be hard at first you can do it. Mouthguards are great at reducing damage caused by sports, having a custom well-fitted mouth guard will ensure this. Vaping is increasingly prevalent with teenagers, so being aware of the impacts it can have and knowing you have a choice is important. Maintaining routine dental visits every 6 months and having good at-home oral hygiene is key to having good mouth health.