Here at Riverside Dental Care, our dentists work with people of all ages, from young children to the young at heart. With all our patients, our dentists have seen how having a healthy smile can impact our patients, particularly adolescents. Along with our dentists’ observations, researchers have begun to back up what our dentists have seen among younger dental patients.
Oral Health Needs To Be Established Early On
Starting as early as a year old, your child can be taken to start their biannual visits to the dentist. These early visits, even if your child doesn’t have many teeth to check and clean, can help your child in several ways.
- More comfortable in the future – Most of us have either seen or heard of a child being too terrified to even go to the dentist. By going to the dentist early and regularly, your child’s biannual dental cleanings should be an easier experience.
- Catch problems early on – Even before a child’s primary teeth are replaced by permanent teeth, dental issues can occur. By practicing regular oral care such as brushing, flossing, and dental visits, issues can be caught early on.
- Helps young children understand oral hygiene – Many young children tend to resist doing things if they don’t know why they should care to do the task requested, such as brushing their teeth when told to do so. With early visits to the dentist, children can learn why it is important to take care of their daily dental “chores” of brushing and flossing.
Without these things, young children may have many different aspects of their lives impacted. In fact, one study noted that children who had toothaches which weren’t addressed were four times more likely to have an overall lower grade point average. This effect may be due to the pain that the children experienced, which may have made it difficult to focus, or the school they missed to have the toothache addressed.
Along with the impact on their academics, children with poor oral health became more prone to becoming sick. But generally, it’s not until children transition into the teenage years that the emotional impact of poor dental health is really felt.
Dental Issues Can Impact Teens’ Self-Esteem
As most parents realize quickly, teenagers are generally painfully aware of how they appear to others, especially their peers. Recently, researchers investigated how dental issues impacted teenagers’ self-esteem and how that emotional impact led to other problems. Some of the significant issues that teens with dental problems tended to struggle which impacted their self-esteem were:
- Difficulty with correct pronunciation if their dental issues included missing teeth or malocclusion (misaligned teeth).
- Tooth loss, particularly of an anterior tooth, can impact the way a teen perceives their overall attractiveness, as a healthy smile plays a large part in facial attractiveness.
- Toothaches and gum disease can make it painful to eat, leading to either awkward chewing or difficulty eating altogether.
The authors of the study concluded that those teenagers who believe that they have a bad smile, for whatever reason, also have accompanying low self-esteem. This sense of low self-esteem can impact teens in all aspects of their lives, from job prospects to relationships. So, it is essential for parents to help their teens have the healthiest smiles possible.
How To Help Teens Have Healthier Smiles
Parents play a critical role in the healthy development of their children’s oral care. Some of the best things you can do as a parent for your children’s dental health are:
- Bring teens in for biannual dental cleanings – Sometimes, it can be tough to make sure you come in for your own biannual cleanings, let alone making sure your children go to their appointments. But by ensuring that children receive quality dental care early in life, you can set your children up for superior oral health as they become adults.
- Develop a dental plan with our dentists – Not all dental issues can be addressed during a dental cleaning appointment. If your child has a serious malocclusion or other dental issues which will require extensive intervention, our dentists can work with you to create a long term plan to address these problems, so they don’t seriously impact your child in the future.
- Ensure your children have the necessary supplies – In most cases, having a soft-bristled toothbrush and dental floss is all a child needs in the way of dental supplies. However, if there are other issues, such as being prone to tooth decay, our dentists may recommend other things to help your children preserve their dental health.
If you are ready to help your children enjoy healthier smiles with experienced dentists, contact us for an appointment.