Children: The Secondary Years

This age group has such a diverse range of interests and is a major developmental time where social habits are made and changed. We have listed a lot of information and links so you can have a read or if more information is required please make an appointment and speak to one of our dentists

Mouthguards

Most contact sports sensibly require participants to wear a mouthguard. Their ability to help protect teeth in a collision is well-documented. Low quality and incorrectly fitted mouthguards can be loose fitting and uncomfortable, they can slip, interfere with speaking abilities and more often than not you will get a lot of objections to using them. We provide a fitting service to ensure that your child’s mouthguard is as comfortable as possible, in a colour or pattern they like and offers the best protection.

Sports drinks

Keeping hydrated whilst being active or playing sport is very important. Fizzy drinks, sports drinks or energy drinks can actually do your teeth a lot of damage.

Water is the best drink available to do this. Advertisers will try to tell you that their drinks contain all things you have lost through sweat – remember they are advertisers – water is best.

Why are sports drinks bad for your teeth?

When you are playing sport you tend to breathe through your mouth. This results in a dry mouth which in turn exacerbates and increases the damaging effect of sugar and acid on the teeth.

Dehydration from sporting activities can also reduce the amount of saliva you produce. Saliva is one of your body’s natural protections against the effects of sugar and acid wear. If there’s not much of it around and then you replace your fluid loss with a sports drink your poor teeth are under siege!

In addition many sports drinks are acidic (which can erode the enamel on teeth producing sensitive teeth) and they can be high in caffeine (which changes the way the body handles water and saliva) again putting your teeth at risk.

Read the label before purchasing a sports drink

Avoid drinks which contain sugar, honey, rice syrup or “organic dehydrated cane juice”.

Avoid acidity and avoid drinks containing

  • Citric acid (a flavor enhancer)
  • Sodium benzoate” (a preserving agent)
  • Generally if the ingredient ends in an “ate” it’s an acidic preservative of some kind

What to do

  • Drink plenty of WATER before, during and after playing sports.
  • If you choose to drink a sports drink, consume them in moderation

We highly recommended professionally made mouthguards for all contact sports and don’t forget they should be worn during training too.

Grinding splints

Teenage years can be a time of stress and anxiety which can often trigger teeth grinding or clenching whilst asleep. Severity can range from infrequent clenching to outright mashing.

Symptoms

There are many symptoms but here are some of the more commons ones we see:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Jaw pain
  • Earaches
  • Tooth pain
  • Chronic pain in the mouth or ear area
  • Worn-out tooth enamel
  • Flat teeth
  • Wear spots on teeth
  • Damage to insides of cheeks
  • Tongue indentations

It may be possible to obtain some temporary relief by attempting the following

  • Use a warm, wet washcloth on the jaw
  • Massage jaw muscles, the neck, and face to relieve tension on trigger points
  • Get some physical therapy
  • Do exercises to relax the jaw
  • Visit a physiotherapist/osteopath/chiropractor
  • Use muscle relaxants to relax the jaw

Grinding can cause serious damage to otherwise healthy and well maintained teeth.

It is essential to protect the teeth by using a specially made grinding splint

Potential consequences of unchecked grinding can include

  • Fracturing of teeth
  • Aching jaws
  • Recurring headaches
  • Tooth pain
  • Wearing down of teeth and enamel
  • Loss of teeth
  • Development of jaw joint disorders

Grinding splints

We are able to make a custom mouth splint. These are immediately effective as the splint takes the brunt of the grinding and they stop the teeth being further damaged.

Benefits of a Grinding splints

  • You save your teeth and therefore hugely reduce the chances of expensive dental repairs

Reducing the causes of Grinding

It’s also important to try and reduce the grinding so have a think about incorporating the following into your lifestyle:

  • Reducing stress
  • Drinking more water
  • Getting more sleep
  • Not chewing gum or other objects
  • Consciously relaxing the face and jaw throughout the day
  • Buying a teeth grinding splint
  • Avoiding alcohol, which increases the urge to clench the teeth
  • Avoiding caffeine, which can make you jumpy and tense
Eating disorders

Eating Disorders are serious and potential life threatening illnesses with both psychological and physiological effects.Eating disorders can occur regardless of gender, age or cultural background and they can develop due to a range of psychological, familial, cultural and environmental factors.

Changes in the mouth are often the first physical signs of an eating disorder. The harmful habits and nutritional deficiencies that often accompany disordered eating can have severe consequences on one’s dental health. An eating disorder may cause lingering or even permanent damage to the teeth and mouth.

Dentists are potentially one of the first clinicians that a person with an eating disorder will come into contact with. Early intervention is critical for any patient with an eating disorder. Research has shown that the sooner treatment occurs, the better chance the individual has of recovery.

Our dentists are in a unique position to provide their patients with nonjudgmental support which can be instrumental in encouraging the individual to seek help to recover from the eating disorder.

Some symptoms

  • Tooth erosion or the break down of tooth enamel
  • Dry mouth resulting from dehydration, laxative and diuretic misuse or recurrent vomiting.
  • Bad breath resulting from malnutrition
  • Individuals who have had an eating disorder for an extended period of time may also develop osteoporosis.
  • Erosion on the front of the teeth may become noticeable over time and teeth will often appear thin, yellow, shiny and perhaps even transparent near the tips
  • There are many other symptoms which your dentist an observe and monitor which are not visible to the untrained eye

Strategies to improve dental health

There are several recommendations that our dentists may provide for the maintenance of dental health of individuals with eating disorders.

  • Brushing daily with desensitizing toothpaste that also contains fluoride will not only treat and prevent hypersensitivity, but will also help keep enamel strong thereby preventing decay.
  • For individuals who vomit frequently, a fluoride rinse can be used immediately following brushing to provide greater protection to the teeth.
  • Individuals with bulimia should take extra care to rinse their mouths with a sodium bicarbonate mouthwash following an episode of purging in order to neutralize the acidity in the mouth
  • Appropriate amounts of calcium and vitamin D will help to maintain healthy bones including the jaw.
  • Daily flossing will prevent build-up of food and bacteria between teeth, thereby preventing decay.
  • Choosing water, milk or tea instead of highly acidic fruit juices or sugary sodas will help to keep teeth stronger and healthier.

The importance of dental check-ups

Our dentists will also work gently with the patient to encourage treatment and since many of the dental problems associated with eating disorders may not be noticeable to the untrained eye, regular dental appointments are crucial to ensure oral health.

Where to get more information or help

  • Your doctor
  • Dentist or oral healthcare professional
Oral piercings

Any piercing in or around the mouth can cause damage to your oral health as the mouth’s protective layer of skin has been broken.

Infection is the most common risk associated with oral piercings because the mouth contains an abundance of bacteria. The time immediately after piercing is most critical but the risk of infection is always present and you should be extremely conscious of your oral care. Handling the jewelry with unwashed hands or ingesting certain types of food and drink can spark an infection even months after your piercing.

Pain and swelling at the piercing site should always checked out by a dentist.

Other complications can arise as a result of an oral piercing such as injuries to the gums and teeth as well as teeth sensitivity stemming from the components of the jewelry. More extreme complications from tongue piercing can be an obstructed airway either from swallowing the jewelry or a swelling due to an infection or uncontrolled bleeding of the tongue. Plus, the jewelry banging against your teeth can crack your teeth, or at the very least, lead to excessive wear and tear and more pronounced problems later on.

Undergoing this procedure should be done only after carefully considering all the risks and possible complications. If you or someone you know is considering an oral piercing, a consultation with a dental professional before having the procedure done is strongly suggested.

Things to watch for when having your piercing completed

  • Ensure the piercing instruments have been properly sterilised beforehand to avoid the risk of hepatitis B and C, tetanus or HIV
  • Watch the size and position of barbells in the tongue so teeth will not be damaged
  • Watch the position of mouth piercings to ensure they do not rub against the gum
  • Never sleep with piercings in.

Immediate aftercare

  • The area should be cleaned routinely using a disinfecting mouthwash until the piercing heals.
  • Don’t play with or rotate the ornament after placement
  • Avoid smoking, chewing tobacco or placing foreign objects, like fingernails, pencils or sunglasses, in your mouth

Daily maintenance should include:

  • Removing the jewelry when eating or sleeping.
  • Brushing jewelry and teeth daily.
  • Rinsing with an alcohol-free rinse
  • Removing jewelry before sports or other physical activity that may harm the mouth.

If some type of oral piercing appeals to you remember continual daily maintenance is required to avoid injury and infection that could lead to loss of the piercing or more seriousconsequences such as the loss of tissue in and around the mouth.

Regular dental visits are needed to examine the piercing site and the adjacent teeth and soft tissues.

Braces

Braces are fitted by a qualified orthodontist who has the ability to correctly plan a suitable outcome for your child.

Some reasons for which you may need braces are

  • Unsightly crowding
  • Problems with bite alignment
  • Unsightly spacing
  • Trauma

Braces can be difficult to clean and broken braces require a trip to the orthodontist but doing both is vital in maintaining the integrity of your braces and your oral health during treatment so you can experience a wonderful outcome.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Use an electric toothbrush will help keep all your surfaces clean
  • To clean under the wires easily use a small brush called ‘Piksters’
  • Avoid hard foods such as nuts and hard biscuits.
  • Foods such as apples and carrots should be grated or chopped into small pieces before eating to reduce the stress on your braces.
  • Avoid sticky foods such as caramels, toffees, muesli or fruit bars. No chewing gum!
  • Habits such as nail biting, unnatural tongue thrusting, pencil chewing and nervous picking at your wires can also break braces.
  • Have regular check-ups with your dentist

If the teeth and braces are not kept clean there can be permanent changes to your teeth such as:

  • Areas on the enamel surface may begin to lose minerals (the early stage of tooth decay) leaving unsightly white spots on your teeth at the end of treatment
  • Teeth erosion can occur around the brace and when the braces are removed you are left with a square of different height in the centre of your tooth and a patch work appearance for your smile

Pain

Sometimes after appointments where the wires are adjusted there can be some pain. This can be managed with paracetamol (or your normal pain medication) and will usually only last 24 hours. If it lasts longer than a couple of days please contact your orthodontist.

What if my braces break?

If you get a broken wire which causes pain and or irritation, cover the loose end with wax, a small cotton ball, piece of gauze gum and get to your orthodontists as soon as possible

Smoking

The effects of smoking on your oral health can range from teeth yellowing and bad breath through to complete loss of all teeth. Any side effects of smoking can start immediately and be visible within a very short time frame.

The most common oral problems affecting people who smoke include:

  • Stained teeth
  • Reduced ability to taste food
  • Bad breath.
  • Oral cancer (a fast progressing cancer)
  • Increased risk of gum disease
    Red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums
  • A persistent discharge (pus) coming from your gums
  • Gums that are loose and pull away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Gaps or spaces appearing between your teeth.
  • Poorly healing tooth sockets after a tooth extraction, which is very painful.
  • Complications after tooth extractions and surgery in the mouth
  • Increased risk of pain after other oral and gum surgery.
  • Whitening of the inside of mouth (tongue, roof of mouth, gums etc – basically anything which is pink)
  • A higher risk of developing acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG), a very painful condition of the gum, which smells and tastes terrible.
  • Dental implants being less likely to integrate or ‘take’

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Dentist or oral healthcare professional
  • Quitline 13 7848 (13 QUIT)

Things to remember

  • Visit your dentist regularly for advice about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy
  • Have regular oral cancer checks.
  • Try to quit smoking.
Alcohol

Alcohol is the largest cause of drug-related deaths among Australian teenagers.

“Binge drinking” can mean different things to different people, but some common definitions are:

  • Drinking so that you can deliberately get drunk
  • Occasional and irregular bouts of heavy drinking
  • Normally being a responsible drinker, but often overindulging

Some of the immediate risks of binge drinking include:

  • Having accidents
  • Getting into fights or arguments
  • Feeling depressed
  • Missing work
  • Passing out
  • Loss of valuable and personal items like wallets, jewellery, phones and iPod
  • Having unsafe sex

Long-term risks of alcohol abuse include:

  • Oral Health problems including oral cancer
  • Liver damage
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Sexual problems
  • Weight problems
  • Depression

Oral Health effects from Binge Drinking

  • Binge drinking which results in vomiting causes the enamel on the surface of the tooth to be eroded away.
  • Tooth decay, fillings and worse.
    High sugar content in most alcoholic drinks can lead to tooth decay. Sugar combines with the bacteria to eat into your tooth enamel and create cavities. If left unchecked, this can progress to loss of teeth.
  • Dehydration can occur when drinking alcohol as can another condition called dry mouth. Both dehydration and dry mouth cause a decrease in saliva production which allows bacteria to thrive and puts your teeth under siege
  • Over time colored alcoholic drinks like red wine and sangria can stain teeth
  • Increased risk of oral cancer.

Things you can do:

  • Drinking water after an alcoholic beverage can help return saliva production to normal.
  • Drinking in moderation will greatly limit tooth decay because of the reduced sugar intake and reduced dehydration.

Where to get help

  • Youth Central – a Victorian Government Website
    http://www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/health-relationships/binge-drinking
  • Lifeline
    Crisis Support and Suicide prevention
    13 11 14
    www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/substance-abuse-and-addiction
  • Al-Anon
    To help people manage and control excessive drinking and helping families and friends of alcoholics with the effects of living with someone whose drinking is a problem
    www.al-anon.org.au/
  • Oral Health
    If you need help bringing your oral health back give us a call or book online today
    9882 5566
    www.riversdaledental.com.au
Illegal drugs

Medical experts agree—the regular use of illegal drugs can harm the body and cause significant oral damage. This includes erosion of tooth enamel, gums and other parts of the mouth. While the specific symptoms may differ from drug to drug, many common side effects do exist.

Marijuana

Long term studies have found that people who smoke marijuana have a higher incidence of advanced gum disease which destroys bones, gums and tissue because of inflammation and infection. In some cases, this can even lead to tooth loss among users in their thirties.

Cocaine

Cocaine (or coke) is another popular drug with serious oral health side effects.

  • When mixed with saliva, cocaine creates an acidic substance that harms tooth enamel and welcomes more bacteria.
  • It also causes dry mouth conditions which also increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Users who rub cocaine over their gums can develop gingivitis, receding gum lines and if infections persist, tooth loss.
  • Some users will clench and grind their teeth which can erode tooth enamel over time.

Heroin

Use of heroin leads to tooth decay in a unique way as it causes intense cravings for sugar products which results in damage to the tooth enamel.

Methamphetamine

Methamphetamines harm teeth in ways that combine the worst of all drug-related oral issues.

  • Methamphetamine users put themselves at risk of advanced tooth decay and gum disease which often leads to tooth loss as well.
  • Their remaining teeth often have a stained and rotting appearance.
  • Dry mouth conditions and the acidic nature of methamphetamines greatly contribute to dental decay through reduced saliva production and acid attack on the enamel
  • Lastly, methamphetamine users may crave sugar like heroin users and grind their teeth like cocaine users.

Protect Your Oral Health

Prolonged drug use can have terrible effects on your teeth and oral health. While strong oral care habits can help lessen some of the above symptoms, the best way to improve your condition is to steer clear of all harmful alcohol and drug practices.

Where to get help

  • Lifeline
    Crisis Support and Suicide prevention
    13 11 14
    www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/substance-abuse-and-addiction
  • Direct Line
    Free counselling for drug use or drug use by a family member or friend
    1800 888 236 (VIC)
    www.counsellingonline.org.au/
  • Al-Anon
    To help people manage and control excessive drinking and helping families and friends of alcoholics with the effects of living with someone whose drinking is a problem
    www.al-anon.org.au/
  • Oral Health
    If you need help bringing your oral health back give us a call or book online today
    9882 5566
    www.riversdaledental.com.au