Thank you for rejoining us this week as we continue our series, “Adolescent Oral Health Care Guide”.
Last week, we started this multi-part series by outlining the fact that the World Health Organization considers those between the ages of 10 and 19 to be “adolescents”. This period of life involves an immense amount of growth, development, and change.
Pediatric dentists know and understand that – because of the fast-paced growth, development, and change – adolescents have very unique oral health care needs. That, combined with other points such as poor nutritional habits, poor hygiene levels, and fluctuating, require the consistent care and treatment of a specialized dental professional. You also learned that the oral health treatment regimen of the adolescent is considered to be multi-faceted and potentially complicated.
This week, we will start by reviewing some of the most common oral health issues faced by adolescents. You will also be provided with guidelines that will aid in the prevention and/or treatment of these complications.
According to statistics, approximately 52% of all adolescents have experienced some degree of dental caries (tooth decay). There are 13% of adolescents that have untreated tooth decay. The most common areas of the teeth detrimentally impacted by dental caries are the pit surfaces and the fissure surfaces of the molar teeth. In order to effectively prevent dental caries or treat dental caries that has already developed, the adolescent should engage in the following:
- First, the adolescent should ensure that they use toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain a high amount of fluoride.
- A pediatric dentist should be seen on a regular basis in order to provide the adolescent with professional topical-based treatments that include high amounts of fluoridation.
- Routine dental care should be pursued through a pediatric dentist. This includes examinations, cleanings, and the application of sealants to the teeth.
- The adolescent should be educated on how to properly care for their teeth and the surrounding areas of the mouth.
- Adolescents should be pushed to engage in positive and productive oral hygiene measures.
According to studies, the irreversible tissue-based damage associated with periodontal disease initiates in the late years of adolescence and the early years of adulthood. This information was pulled from epidemiologic files and immunologic data from doctors, pediatric dentists, and general dental practitioners.
The prevalence associated with gingivitis is becoming increasingly popular among adolescents due to the increase of sex hormones. Puberty directly impacts the composition that is associated with the subgingival-based microflora within the mouth.
Additionally, the fluid accumulation within the gingival-based tissues is drastically increased. In order to prevent and/or treat this oral health issue, the following should be performed:
- The adolescent should be placed on an age-appropriate oral health hygiene program that includes the regular removal of plaque, flossing, specific brushing techniques, and regular cleanings performed by a pediatric dentist.
- The adolescent should be educated on the signs and symptoms of gingivitis and encouraged to tell an adult of their dentist immediately if any of the signs or symptoms start occurring so that treatment may immediately begin.
- If the adolescent requires specialized treatments for issues such as tooth exposure, receding gum lines, and implant placement, they should be immediately referred to the type of specialist that may be able to handle the issue at hand.