Teenage years are probably the most awkward period in one’s life. It’s that time when you worry too much just about anything, most especially on how you look.
Dental problems are just one of the many issues teens have as they go through the adolescent period. Most of these dental concerns are so common that they were deemed normal part of life.
Learn more about what these concerns are and find out what you and your dentist can do about it.
Crooked or Misaligned Teeth
Misalignment of teeth is a very common dental anomaly that occurs not just in kids and teens, but even in adults as well.
It often occurs when the space left for the erupting permanent teeth is too little or too much. Too little space leads to crowding, while too much space results to spacing or diastema.
Both can result to an unpleasant smile, malocclusion (a.k.a. bad bite), early wear of teeth, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems. To correct misalignment, installation of dental braces is often necessary.
Dental braces are placed in the patient’s mouth by an orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in the correction of malocclusion.
Braces are typically made of metal secured in position by colorful dental elastics. But for some teens, metal display is an issue so there’s also ceramic braces that looks less obvious and Invisalign which, as its name suggests, is virtually invisible.
Consult your dentist to find out which option is best for you.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
The third molars, more commonly known as the wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. They come out at the age of 17 to 21.
Most of the time, there isn’t enough space for them or their position simply does not allow them to erupt straight up.
In both cases, they are referred to as impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth must always be removed unless contraindicated. If left in the mouth, they may lead to other problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and damage to adjacent teeth.
Impacted teeth are extracted through a surgical operation known as odontectomy. In this procedure, which is done under local or general anesthesia, the dental surgeon makes an incision on the area of the impacted tooth.
The overlying gum tissue is then lifted or reflected to expose the tooth. Bone reduction may be done as necessary.
Once the tooth is extracted, the gum tissue is then put back into its original position and the incision is closed with sutures. Complete healing of the surgical site takes about 3-6 months.
Tooth decay pertains to the destruction of tooth structure by the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. It is caused by eating lots of sugary foods without brushing the teeth after.
Much as it is the most common dental disease, it is also very preventable. The best way of avoiding it is to practice good oral hygiene and do regular visits to your dentist for consultation, professional cleaning, and topical fluoride application.
Fluoride helps make the teeth stronger to stop further decay.
But if the decay is already extensive and tooth enamel has been worn off, your dentist will remove the decay and fill the cavity with an appropriate filling material.
And if the destruction has reached the pulp, the damage is said to be irreversible and a simple filling won’t solve the problem. In such case, the treatment would either be root canal or extraction.
Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is brought about by accumulation of bacteria in the tongue and teeth.
In most cases, a simple improvement in one’s oral hygiene is enough to get rid of this problem.
A good oral hygiene means brushing at least twice a day and using floss to clean in-between teeth. And as always, regular dental visits are also necessary.
Tooth discoloration may result from surface stains or from changes within the tooth. Surface stains are referred to as extrinsic stains.
This type of stain affects only surface of the enamel, and is commonly caused by smoking and consuming dark-colored food and beverages.
Intrinsic stains, on the other hand, are those that affect the inner structures of the tooth – the dentin and pulp.
Causes of intrinsic stains include too much fluoride, tetracycline antibiotics, and trauma. Discoloration may also be age-related.
As we age, our teeth appear more yellow as the enamel thins out, causing the yellow-colored dentin to show through.
Extrinsic stains can be removed by regular brushing using whitening toothpastes and by professional cleaning.
But if you want your teeth to be whiter than their natural color, bleaching is recommended. Intrinsic stains won’t respond to whitening products nor bleaching.
To get rid of them, your dentist will either cover the stains with tooth-colored filling material or put veneers on the facial surface of the teeth.