Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is important for overall health at any age, the teenage years being no exception. Brushing, flossing, maintaining a healthy diet and visiting your dentist on a regular basis help ensure a healthy and attractive smile. At a time when you're faced with making choices about many aspects of your life, it's important to consider the impact that certain behaviors and decisions - both positive and negative - can have on your oral health and the appearance of your smile for years to come.
1 Drinking Soda
The number of teenagers who consume soda today has nearly doubled from what it was several years ago. Sodas and other carbonated beverages typically contain an excessive amount of sugars and acidic flavorings that erode tooth enamel, which can ultimately lead to tooth decay.
Sipping soda through a straw can reduce the contact these beverages have with your teeth, essentially minimizing the damage. In addition, drinking water after soda helps to rinse your mouth and reduce your risk of cavities. To help keep your teeth strong for your lifetime, limit your intake of carbonated beverages.
If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do, it's time to quit.
Smoking and/or chewing tobacco stains your teeth, contributes to bad breath, and increases your risk of developing periodontal disease (gum disease) and oral cancer. If you use tobacco products, be honest about it with your dentist or hygienist. Be sure to discuss any problems you may be experiencing with your mouth, too.
Bulimia - binge eating followed by vomiting, and anorexia - a fear of gaining weight that leads to not eating, and/or eating very little and then vomiting, are serious eating disorders. In addition to the associated risk of health complications, these disorders also damage the appearance of the teeth by eroding the enamel in a visible "tell-tale" way.
Dentists can usually identify eating disorders based on the effects, and can recommend psychological counseling or offer a referral to a physician. Although dentists can restore teeth damaged by the acid erosion caused by the constant purging using dental crowns, composite fillings and other treatments, they cannot treat the eating disorder.
If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder, call your physician or dentist for help.