The state of the nation’s children’s dental health never seems far from the headlines. Although the NHS insists there has been a vast improvement over the past decade, the fact that nearly 26,000 five-to-nine year olds were admitted to hospital for tooth decay in England in 2013-14[i], means the time for action is now. But a focused, multi-agency approach, based on education and prevention, must consider how a child’s needs change as they grow older and move into adolescence.
Just like other life stages, hormones play a significant part, making a good oral health routine crucial. Research has shown that puberty’s rush of ‘sex hormones’ affects the periodontium.[ii] This is an unavoidable factor; as for an ‘avoidable’ one, a smoking habit usually starts, and gets established, during adolescence, and obviously has many serious consequences for dental and systemic health.
Like smoking, eating disorders are often initiated during the teenage years. Individuals who develop bulimia nervosa may experience acid erosion to the surface of the teeth as a result of vomiting. Anorexia nervosa can lead to increased caries, xerostomia and osteoporosis due to a lack of essential nutrients.
Energy drinks are popular during examination time as they are marketed as boosting energy, decreasing fatigue and enhancing concentration. However, they are often full of sugar, too. Skipping breakfast – or grabbing something unhealthy on-the-go – is also common. New research has shown that teens are twice as likely to suffer from halitosis if they miss breakfast[iii] and, with these years being a defining time socially, bad breath can be a great motivational tool to trigger better oral care!
With finances also likely to be an issue we need to look at simple, cost-effective ways to boost teens’ dental health between appointments. Education about the causes of halitosis, proper brushing techniques and the dangers of smoking of course are important, but they could add some adjunctive products, too, such as CB12 mouth rinse and Boost chewing gum which are clinically proven to neutralise the gases that cause halitosis and keep the the mouth fresh all day.
With such a drive to improve children’s dental health, we much not forget what comes after. Late adolescence is full of social, psychological and financial pressures and regular trips to the dentist are unlikely to be a priority, especially if an individual has just left home for the first time. The best solutions are always the simple ones, and no one wants to be known as the person with bad teeth or breath! Guidance and support is not just for kids, and will provide life-long benefits.
For more information on CB12 and the extensive research behind it, please visit www.cb12.co.uk
[ii] Apoorva, S. M., and A. Suchetha. "Effect of sex hormones on periodontium."Indian J. Dent. Sci 2 (2010): 36-40.
[iii] RANI H et al (2015) ‘Oral malodour among adolescents and its association with health behaviour and oral health status’, International Journal of Dental Hygiene, 2015