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Teens and Teeth: A Risk You Need to Know

dental services Methuen MAWhen it comes to guidance with oral hygiene, the teenage years might be likened to a desert island. During early childhood, parents spend so much time teaching their children how to brush and floss that they trust their efforts will be fruitful in the long term. Often, teens need continual support to stay motivated to care for their teeth as well as is needed. In addition to possibly dropping the ball on brushing and flossing, teens face another risk to their long-term oral health. According to studies, the fast-paced lifestyle that most teens lead is putting them at risk of decay, gum disease, and poor bone health.

According to one report published in the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, teens are even at risk of enamel and tooth damage that cannot be reversed. The loss of enamel is referred to as erosion. Just like a hillside can erode due to strong winds and rain, the outer material that is intended to protect teeth erodes when we consume certain types of foods and beverages – the foods and drinks that are especially appetizing to teenagers. You know, those sugary sodas and high-carb French fries that are cornerstones to weekly meals!

Research has pointed to the danger of acidic ingredients such as those found in most carbonated beverages; things like carbonic acid, tartaric acid, citric and phosphoric acid. The breakdown of enamel around restorations like dental crowns, ceramic or composite fillings, and even dental sealants is attributed to acidity. Furthermore, studies have also linked the consumption of phosphoric acid to poor calcium absorption.

Calcium and Teens

There is a common misconception that calcium becomes more vital as we age (and primarily as women age). However, studies indicate that bone development is at its peak between the ages of 9 and 18 years-old. During this time in life, adolescents need 1300 mg of calcium a day. When acidity is inhibiting calcium absorption, the benefits of supplementation dwindle, creating unnecessary risk. For example, one body of research has confirmed a correlation between bone fractures in teenage girls and their consumption of soft drinks.

Because nearly 100 percent of the calcium in the body is stored in teeth and bones, and because the teen years are a crucial time for bone development, it is essential that teens consume calcium-rich foods like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Leafy greens are also an excellent source of calcium. If necessary, a daily supplement may also be taken to offset the calcium depletion that coincides with the standard teenage diet.

We are interested in helping your family avoid unnecessary dental risks. To schedule care that counts, contact our Windham or Methuen office.