Dentistry for Teens
We offer pediatric dentistry services to teenagers in and around the Mt Airy, Maryland area.
Tongue Piercing – Is it Really Cool?
You might not be surprised anymore to see people with pierced tongues, lips, or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be.
There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), and receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!
Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva, and injuries to the gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.
So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break – skip the mouth jewelry.
Tobacco – Bad News in Any Form
Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco.
Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew, or snuff, is often used by teens who believe that it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is an unfortunate misconception. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes and may be more difficult to quit.
Teens who use it may be interested to know that one can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.
If your child is a tobacco user, you should watch for the following that could be early signs of oral cancer:
- A sore that won’t heal.
- White or red leathery patches on the lips and on or under the tongue.
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
Because the early signs of oral cancer usually are not painful, people often ignore them. If it’s not caught in the early stages, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. Even worse, it can kill.
Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid bringing cancer-causing chemicals in direct contact with their tongue, gums, and cheek.
Adolescent Dentistry FAQs
Can teens get dental sealants?
We recommend dental sealants for patients who are between 11 and 13. Patients can receive protective dental sealants once their second set of molars emerge to protect against cavities.
How often should teens go to the dentist?
Teenagers should visit the dentist every six months. Routine dental visits keep their teeth clean and allow us to keep track of developments in their oral health.
Can tobacco cause gum disease?
Tobacco use can contribute to gum disease. Nicotine causes dry mouth and restricts the blood vessels, which slows healing. This means harmful bacteria can easily collect on the gums and hide between teeth in tobacco users. Smoking, vaping, or using other tobacco products can lead to gum disease if tobacco users do not care for their smiles.
Why does tobacco cause dry mouth?
The nicotine contained in tobacco contributes to dry mouth because it decreases saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food debris and bacteria. In turn, dry mouth can increase the risk of developing bacterial infections like gum disease. Patients who smoke, vape, or use tobacco products need to be aware of dry mouth, gum disease, and other dental problems they can experience because of nicotine.
Is gum damage from smoking reversible?
Early signs of gum disease, like gingivitis, are reversible with a good oral hygiene routine. However, quitting tobacco products is the best way to help reverse the damage from gum disease. Smoking cigarettes, vaping, and using tobacco will continue to damage the gums if patients do not quit.
How long does it take for a tongue piercing to damage teeth?
It can take several days for a tongue piercing to damage teeth. The metal of the tongue-piercing can accidently crack, break, or otherwise damage your teeth when you eat or speak. Tongue piercings can be dangerous for teens as their teeth continue to develop.