The World Health Organisation has established that adolescents are considered to be those between 10 and 19 years of age. It is at approximately twelve years of age when the changeover to permanent dentition is complete and these teeth must accompany us throughout our lives.

 Adolescence is characterised by rebelliousness, rejection of parental authority, psychological and hormonal changes. In addition to the lifestyle, diet and the lack of proper oral hygiene measures lead to tooth decay, gum inflammation and trauma.

Therefore, the oral hygiene at this stage is essential as there is an increased risk of dental problems. And it is at this time that young people should acquire good oral hygiene habits so that they can maintain them throughout their lives.

Oral health risks in adolescents

Nutrition: sugar-rich foods and drinks are often consumed, which contribute to the formation of dental plaque, the deterioration of enamel and the development of cavities.

Tongue and lip piercings: They encourage the development of plaque, bad breath, receding gums, tooth decay and the risk of tooth fractures. So be careful with them.

Bruxismtooth clenching or grinding of the teeth, day or night, which eventually leads to tooth wear and breakage, as well as headaches and pain in the facial muscles. It can be caused by stress due to an excessive workload at school, separation from parents, bullying, moving house, hyperactivity, the birth of a sibling, and other changes in their life.

Orthodontics: Wearing braces, especially fixed braces with brackets, can make oral hygiene more difficult for adolescents, so they need to be more thorough.

Smoking: Unfortunately, most smokers pick up this bad habit during adolescence. As a result, they are more at risk of tooth staining, bad breath and gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis. All of these can be factors that, in the long term, increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Hormones: At this stage, adolescents experience an increase in sex hormones, which can increase the risk of gingivitis.

Eating disorders: Both bulimia (binge eating and vomiting) and anorexia (excessive fear of gaining weight) are serious disorders which, in addition to being life-threatening, erode tooth enamel.

What can we do to promote oral hygiene in adolescence?

Every age has its motivations and adolescents, in general, are very sensitive to their personal appearance. Many brush their teeth to avoid visible dirt and bad breath, but few take care of them to avoid cavities or gum problems. Some tips for improving dental health are:

1.- Limit the consumption of carbonated beveragesThe sugar in soft drinks can cause tooth decay and the acidic additives can erode and damage tooth enamel.

2.- Avoid piercings in the mouth.

3.- Safety in sport: wearing a mouth guard to prevent dental injuries.

4.- A healthy diet and adequate hydration.

5.- Correct brushing: carry out a deep brushing with a fluoride toothpastetwice a day (or after meals) and flossing. 

6.- Avoid the use of bleachesIt is recommended to visit a specialist for personalised advice as, depending on the age of the adolescent, the pulp of the tooth may not be formed, which can cause the tooth to become loose. will lead to greater sensitivity if bleaching products are used improperly.

7.- Regular dental check-ups at least twice a year and professional hygiene when recommended by the dentist.

With good oral hygiene habits in adolescence and regular visits to the dentist, we can maintain good dental health.