As a teen, you've got plenty to do -- going to school, homework, participating in after-school activities, spending time with friends, perhaps working a job, and other time commitments. Caring for your appearance also is a top priority, including your teeth. By doing so, you're rewarded with a bright, winning smile that really attracts attention!
Yes, it does! If you haven't brushed your teeth since the morning, your mouth is filled with cavity-causing bacteria. When the sugar and starch from the day's food, snacks, or drinks combine with plaque (that sticky film on your teeth), an acid is produced. That acid attacks your tooth enamel. If this is repeated often, those acid attacks can break down enamel and cause cavities while you sleep. So, those few extra minutes it takes to brush your teeth really are important for cavity prevention.
Commercial products claim they will make your breath fresher, but the only way to make sure your breath is truly fresh is to practice good oral hygiene. In fact, too many breath mints and hard candies with sugar can lead to tooth decay. If you are constantly using breath mints, breath sprays, or mouth rinses in an effort to cover up bad breath, you may have a problem that needs correction.
If you neglect daily hygiene over time, bad breath can become a symptom of more serious dental problems. Teeth that are not cleaned properly become a place for bacteria to multiply in your mouth, causing cavities and gum disease. Gum disease produces bad breath and that's gross! So brush, floss, and brush or scrape your tongue.
If you smoke, bad breath comes with the habit. Smoking also puts you at an increased risk for developing gum disease. Brushing and flossing your teeth may slow the development of gum disease but smoking can lead to serious oral health problems, including oral cancer.
Hunger can contribute to bad breath. This is because of the chemical changes that occur as your body turns fat and protein into the energy it needs. Chemical changes caused by taking prescription or over-the-counter medications can also affect mouth odor.
No! Every year, more than 200,000 people are treated by dentists and oral surgeons for sports-related injuries, including broken and knocked-out teeth, concussions, jaw fractures, and neck and head trauma. Many of these could be avoided if athletes and sports enthusiasts used a mouth guard. Anyone participating in sports, especially contact sports, should wear protective mouth guards for safety.
Different types of mouth guards provide various advantages and degrees of protection -- from off-the-shelf to custom-fitted.
If you let good oral care habits slip away, you might be setting yourself up for some undesirable or painful events. Taking care of your teeth by brushing at least twice a day, cleaning between your teeth, avoiding smoking, and protecting yourself from injury by wearing a mouth guard does make a big difference. It matters to your mouth -- just a few minutes daily for clean teeth, fresh breath, and a magical smile!
by Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO