The World Health Organization identifies the adolescence part of life that occurs immediately after childhood and prior to adulthood where growth and development takes place.
This time period typically ranges from the age of 10 to the age of 19. It is considered to be a highly critical transition in life because of the tremendous pace in which growth and numerous changes take place within the body. Biologically-speaking, adolescence ranks in second when it comes to growth and development to the infancy stage of life. Those that specialize in pediatric dentistry recognize the fact that adolescents have many unique needs.
In this multi-part series, you will be introduced to those needs. You will also be presented with numerous oral health care steps that will aid in the proper growth and development of the teeth, preventing common problems, and will help to ensure the optimal oral health of an adolescent. This guide is designed to serve as an informational directory for individuals that are parents and/or legal guardians of individuals from 10 years old to 19 years old.
Why do Adolescents Have Distinctive Oral Health Needs?
There are numerous reasons why adolescents have very specific dental health needs. These include – but, are not at all limited to, the following:
- Today, there is an increased risk among adolescents for dental caries.
- Busy lifestyles, sports participation, and similar events could result in a higher chance of a traumatic injury to the mouth and an increased risk for the development of periodontal disease.
- Many of today’s adolescents have very poor habits when it comes to nutritional choices.
- It is common for people aged 10 to 19 to undergo orthodontic and restorative-based care.
- Many adolescents have an extreme fear or anxiety when it comes to dentists and dental procedures.
- There is a high risk for individuals from 10 to 19 to use products that contain tobacco and alcohol. Additionally, many may experiment and/or develop an addiction to drugs.
- Female adolescents have a high risk of becoming pregnant.
- Many adolescents may develop an eating disorder due to esteem and self-image issues.
- There is an increase in social needs and psychological needs among adolescents.
- Many adolescents become more aware of their appearance and have a desire to engage in activities that they believe will improve their appearance – such as purchasing and using tooth whitening products.
A pediatric dentist is required when it comes to adolescent oral health care. The treatment of this age group is considered to be multi-faceted and may prove to be extremely complicated. For this reason, a specialist is required.
That specialist will obtain an accurate medical history, a comprehensive social history, and will ensure the development of an effective treatment plan for the oral health issues being experienced by the adolescent.
In addition to this, a pediatric dentist may speak with the adolescent in a confidential manner to obtain the information that is necessary to properly treat the individual.
Next week, we will continue this series by expounding on some of the most common issues that occur with adolescents and will provide guidelines that will help prevent or treat those issues.